This hardly seems to be a still life so much as a figure painting, with pale and delicate Chinese women greeting each other on a flower-strewn meadow below a tranquil bay. Like the work of her teacher, Terrick Williams, this painting is drenched in light, with the deep cast shadows of a sunny day. It is superficially oriental in its subject matter, but also, more profoundly, in its use of space and colouring; the artist is confident enough to leave the bare sweeps of wall and painted sky, and to set the white porcelain against a ground which is little darker. A tour de force of decorative art.
Freda Marston, née Clulow (1895-1949), was born in Hampstead, and studied at the very first polytechnic – Regent Street Polytechnic, founded in 1838 – followed by four years in Italy with John Terrick Williams, RA. Williams was a landscapist working in oils, watercolour and pastels, and his luminescent style greatly influenced his pupil. In 1922 she married another landscape painter, Reginald St Clair Marston (1886-1943).
She was a prolific artist, exhibiting at the Royal Academy, RBA (Royal Society of British Artists), ROI (Royal Institute of Oil Painters), RI (Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours), the Royal Society of Artists Birmingham, the Brook Street Art Gallery, Connell and Sons Gallery, the Fine Art Society, the Glasgow Institute of Fine Arts, Manchester City Art Gallery and the Royal Society of Women Artists. She was elected to the RBA in1924 and the ROI 1925. She was also the only female artist commissioned by British Rail, the London, Midland & Scottish and the London & North Eastern Railways to produce posters and the shallow horizontal paintings used for artwork in railway carriages.
Works in public collections include Flood the Amberley (Towner Art Gallery); Duncombe Park, Yorkshire, and Lastingham, Yorkshire, both original British Railways carriage prints (National Railway Museum).