The Cat’s Meow: Mary Fedden and Motley the Cat

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In the 1990s one of Britain’s best-loved artists, Mary Fedden began work on a series of illustrations for Susannah Amoore’s children’s book Motley the Cat. Showcasing her brilliantly colourful technique, and her deep-rooted love of cats, the original illustrations are included in the A Painter’s Paradise: Julian Trevelyan & Mary Fedden at Durham Wharf on 23 November. The sale will benefit the redevelopment of Durham Wharf to make it a space for the future generations of artists. Join us at Sotheby’s New Bond Street on 20th November for an afternoon of talks including a book reading of Motley the Cat by Sheila Hancock. To reserve your place contact britart@sothebys.com Click ahead to find out more about the illustrations and to see highlights from the sale.

A Painter’s Paradise
Julian Trevelyan & Mary Fedden at Durham Wharf
23 November 2016 | London

The Cat’s Meow: Mary Fedden and Motley the Cat

  • Mary Fedden, R.A., Splendid Motley. Estimate £2,000–3,000.
    ‘There is a cat called Motley. An enormous striped-like-a-tiger cat, with a scarlet collar, glittering lime-green eyes, and a great curves of wiry whiskers springing from either side of the widest nose ever seen on a cat.’



    (Mary Fedden & Susanna Amoore, Motley the Cat, Penguin, London, 1997)



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  • Mary Fedden with her cat at Durham Wharf. Photograph courtesy of The Durham Wharf Archive.
    Mary and Julian always had cats at their home and studio Durham Wharf, and, as Christopher Andreae writes ‘[Mary] knows their uncanny ways. In her paintings her cats are often statuesque and commanding, almost frozen as if they are pretending to be part of the still life’



    (Christopher Andreae, Mary Fedden Enigmas and Variations, Lund Humphries, Aldershot, 2007, p.124).

  • Mary Fedden, R.A., Motley. Estimate £2,000–3,000.
    Fedden’s illustrations for Motley the Cat whilst staying true to her unique style, also capture and convey the moving and magical story of Motley who is desperately seeking a home.



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  • Mary Fedden, R.A., Motley by the River. Estimate £2,000–3,000.
    Motley the Cat was aimed at children aged between 3–8 years-old. It was one of three published books that Fedden illustrated during the 1990s, the others being Jane Gardam’s 1998 The Green Man and Birds in 1999, with a foreword by Mel Gooding.



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  • Mary Fedden, R.A., Darius and Butterflies. Estimate £2,000–3,000.
    Fedden’s bold application of colour brings Motley to life and the luminous quality of gouache, which she applies to Indian rag paper with its rough textured surface, gives each of these illustrations a fresh, fun and vibrant feel.



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  • Mary Fedden, R.A., The Girls and Motley. Estimate £2,000–3,000.
    A magical and much-loved tale, in Motley the Cat , Motley is looking for a home of his own, and when he finds two little girls whose own beloved cat, Darius, sadly passes away, it looks like his search is over.



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  • Mary Fedden, R.A., Goodbye to Darius. Estimate £2,000–3,000.
    ‘The family was bewitched by the ferocious charm of this striped-like-a-tiger enchanter who had wandered so far from home. Joyful, he stayed overnight in that very tall house and leaped onto knees with road-digger purrs…’



    (Mary Fedden & Susanna Amoore, Motley the Cat, Penguin, London, 1997)



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  • Mary’s cats Alice and Paul at Durham Wharf. Photograph courtesy of The Durham Wharf Archive.
    A Painter’s Paradise: Julian Trevelyan & Mary Fedden at Durham Wharf celebrates the love, life and art of Mary Fedden and Julian Trevelyan, with the works sold to benefit the redevelopment of Durham Wharf by Turner Prize-winning architects Assemble , to make it a space for the future generations of artists, photographers and filmmakers to come.

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