Fred Mayor (British, 1865-1916)

Magdalen College, Oxford

Watercolour and pencil


In this painting, Mayor catches Magdalen in his usual impressionistic style, with an effective use of splashes of colour and careful use of lighting. Born near Ripon in Yorkshire, Mayor was educated at St Edmund’s School Canterbury where he excelled both at drawing and cricket. The former became his profession and he began with a studio in Chiswick shared with Frank Brangwyn. In 1886 he followed the well-trodden path of spending time in Paris, studying at the Academie Julian, and also meeting Wilson Steer and Walter Sickert who influenced his work and were lifelong friends of his. In 1888 at the age of just twenty-one a painting of his was accepted at the Royal Academy of Arts. In 1899 he moved to join the artists’ colony in Staithes, Yorkshire, where other artists included Harold and Dame Laura Knight. He met, and subsequently married, another artist – Sheffield-born Hannah Hoyland. Married life began by eloping to Montreuil-sur-Mer in northern France where Mayor developed his characteristic impressionistic style. He died in 1916 whilst undergoing a routine operation for asthma, which was required before he could become a war artist.