Modern Makers II

Modern Makers II

Modern British Woman Artists

In the second of a series of articles focussed on Modern Makers, our Modern British Art Specialist, Philip Smith takes a look at four Modern British Woman Artists that broke the mould to pursue an art career in a male dominated sphere.

Our Modern British Art Specialist, Philip Smith takes a look at four Modern British Woman Artists that broke the mould to pursue an art career in a male dominated sphere in the second article in our series focussing on Modern Makers.


Winifred Nicholson (1893-1981)


Winifred Nicholson

Winifred Nicholson (British 1893-1981) | The Piper who played the Retreat at Tobruk, circa 1952
signed, titled and inscribed (on stretcher bar), oil on canvas | 70cm x 90cm (27.5in x 35.5in) | £7,000 - 10,000 + fees
MODERN MADE | Friday 23rd October 2020 | Mall Galleries, London


Winifred Nicholson was considered one of the foremost British colourists of her generation, who developed a personal impressionistic oeuvre largely focussed on landscapes and still lives, often combining the two subjects.

Born in Oxford, Nicholson attended the Byam Shaw School of Art, before studying abroad in Italy, Paris, India and Scotland. In 1920 she married the artist Ben Nicholson, and they exhibited together on numerous occasions including both being members of the avant-garde ‘7 & 5’ Society. After separating from Ben, she moved to Paris with her three children in 1932 where she met many of the leading artist’s of the European modernist movement including Piet Mondrian, Wassily Kandinsky and Naum Gabo.

She returned to Britain as war was looming in Europe, but continued to travel and work prolifically throughout the rest of her career including trips to the Scotland, Spain, Italy and Greece. Her work was widely exhibited and major exhibitions of her work have taken place at the Tate Gallery, London (1987), Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge and a retrospective touring exhibition organised by the Scottish Art Council visiting Edinburgh, Glasgow, Newcastle and Cornwall.



Mary Fedden (1915-2012)


signed and dated (lower left), oil on canvas | 49cm x 75cm (19.25in x 29.5in) | Sold for £12,500 incl premium
MODERN MADE | 27th March 2019 | Mall Galleries, London


“I really float from influence to influence. I found the early Ben Nicholson’s fascinating as were the paintings of his wife Winifred. I also admire the Scottish artist Anne Redpath and the French painter Henri Hayden” (Mary Fedden)

Mary Fedden’s work was commissioned for magazines and murals and her bold and expressive still lives with vivid and contrasting colours have become much loved by the British public.

From 1932 to 1936 she studied at the Slade School of Art in London under theatre designer Vladimir Polunin and one of her first jobs was as a stage designer for the Sadler’s Wells Theatre. Fedden went on to produce patriotic murals during the Second World War and then further murals for the Television pavilion at the Festival of Britain in 1951.

She taught at the Royal College of Art from the late 1950s, being appointed the first female tutor in the painting school, where her pupils included David Hockney and Allen Jones.

Fedden went onto have friendships with many of the leading artists of her generation including Henry Moore and John Piper.

Alongside being exhibited widely in Britain and her work being held by many leading international museums, Fedden was elected an academician of the Royal Academy in 1992, and held the position of President of Royal West of England Academy from 1984 to 1988. She was also recognised with an honorary doctorate from the University of Bath and an O.B.E. for her work.



Prunella Clough (1919-1999)


Pastel on paper | 45.5cm x 63cm (18in x 24.75in) | Sold for £1,560 incl premium
Deloitte Art Collection | 10th January 2008


Often recognised as one of the most significant British artist’s of the Post-War years, Prunella Clough became closely linked with the Post-War Neo-Romanticist School in Britain, particularly with John Minton, Keith Vaughan and Robert Colquhoun.

She largely turned her back on picturesque landscapes, spending her career exploring industrial wastelands and the urban fringes of society of British cities and ports. Her paintings are often a memory of the scene, exploring the everyday in a new way and investigating a poetry in objects often considered prosaic.

Clough studied at Chelsea School of Art, and during the Second World War worked in the Office of War Information as a draughtsman of charts and maps. She became a highly influential teacher in the Post-War years teaching at the Chelsea School of Art (1956-69) and Wimbledon School of Art (1966-97). Three months before her death in 1999 she was awarded the Jerwood Painting Prize, and posthumously she was a awarded a major exhibition at the Tate Gallery in London in 2007.



Elizabeth Frink (1930-1993)


LOT 227 | DAME ELIZABETH FRINK, R.A.(1930-1993) | FIREBIRD, 1962
Bronze on a black resin base, signed and numbered 6/8 | Height without base: 41.2cm (16.25in) | Sold for £14,400 + fees
The Country House Sale | 9th July 2008


Born in Thurlow, Suffolk, Elizabeth Frink studied at the Guildford School of Art (1946-49) and the Chelsea School of Art (1949-53), and taught at Chelsea School of Art (1953-61), St. Martin’s School of Art (1954-62) and at the Royal College of Art (1965-67) becoming one of Britain’s leading sculptors.

Frink was associated with a group of post-war sculptors, known as The Geometry of Fear Sculptors including Lynn Chadwick, Kenneth Armitage, Eduardo Paolozzi, William Turnbull and Reg Butler and became known for her expressionistic figures of animals alongside a number of public sculpture commissions. In her obituary in The Times noted the essential themes of her work being ‘the nature of Man; the ‘horseness’ of horses; and the divine in human form’, alongside examining ideas of aggression and masculinity through her sculptures.

Her work is held in many significant public collections worldwide including The Tate, London; an ‘Eagle’ at the JFK memorial in Dallas and the ‘Risen Christ’ at Liverpool Cathedral. Frink was awarded honorary degrees at the University of Surrey (1997), Open University (1983), University of Warwick (1983), University of Cambridge (1988), University of Exeter (1988), University of Oxford (1989) and University of Keele (1989). She also received a C.B.E. in 1969, and was created a Dame of the British Empire in 1982.



Auction Information


Modern & Post-War Art, Design & Studio Ceramics
Friday, 23rd October 2020 12:00
Mall Galleries | London


Consignments invited until Friday, 11th September 2020


Request a valuation



Modern & Post-War Design Department


A leading auction house in Modern, Post War and Contemporary Design, we hold specialist live and online Design auctions in London and Edinburgh that are known for their international reach and strong prices.

The sales cover all the major movements from Pre-War French and British Modernism and Art Deco, to works from the Mid-Century and Post-War, including Italian and Nordic Design, European and American Modernism, Studio Craft through to Contemporary Design, Glass and Studio & Contemporary Ceramics.


Learn more about our Modern & Post-War Design department ⇒


Recent Articles