Painter and graphic artist Freda Salvendy was born to Jewish parents in Vienna, Austria on 4 January 1887, although her family originated from Slovakia and she is often identified as a Czech artist. She began attending art school at the age of 15 and later continued her studies in Frankfurt with the artists Albin Egger-Lienz and Felix A Harta. Salvendy was a founding member of the Bewegung (‘Movement’), an association of artists who advocated spirituality as the purpose of art as opposed to the decorative tendencies of the Art Nouveau movement. She was also a member of the Wiener Frauenkunst (‘Viennese Association of Female Artists and Craftswomen’) and one of the few women to become a member of the Hagenbund, an influential art association in Vienna after the First World War. In the 1930s she travelled widely within southern Europe concentrating on landscape painting.
Following the rise of Nazism, Salvendy fled to England in 1938, where she found shelter in Mousehole, Cornwall, initially living with fellow artist, Ruth Adams and her family – including Ruth's sister Grace, who became her life-long companion. In June1939 she participated in First Group Exhibition of German, Austrian, Czechoslovakian Painters and Sculptors at the Wertheim Gallery in London. Probably through the influence of Adams, she also held a solo exhibition at the Laing Gallery, Newcastle in May 1940, prior to being interned as a so-called 'enemy alien' upon the Isle of Man in June 1940. Following release, she exhibited widely in both northern, central and south-western England including in Bradford (December 1940), the Czechoslovak Institute, London (January 1941), Leicester (May 1941), Reading (November 1941), and under the joint auspices of the Artists International Association (AIA) and the Free German League of Culture (FGLC) in the same year. In 1943 she exhibited in Wakefield and Newlyn, Cornwall; in 1944 in Newcastle and Gloucester; and in 1945, 1946, 1947, 1951, 1954 and 1960, alongside fellow Jewish artists at Ben Uri Gallery in London. Freda Salvendy spent her final years in Malvern, Worcestershire, England, where she died on 24 March 1965. Her work is represented in UK collections including the British Museum, the Laing Art Gallery, the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Art and the University of Sussex Art Collection. Posthumously, her work has been shown in exhibitions including 'The Better Half: Jewish Women Artists Before 1938' at the Museum Dorotheergasse /Jewish Museum in her native Vienna in 2016-17; in exhibitions on Czech artists at Ben Uri in 1998 and 2019, and at the Laing Gallery, Newcastle (alongside Ruth Adams) in 2019.