Julian Trevelyan was born into a highly educated and talented family in 1910, Julian Trevelyan's childhood environment was intellectually and culturally stimulating. His father was a classical scholar and poet and his grandfather a liberal politician and writer.
Julian revealed his talent for art at a young age and was encouraged by his teachers at Bedales School. Subsequently he studied English Literature at Cambridge where he was to join a social-circle of inspiring academics including George Reavey and Humphrey Jennings who introduced Trevelyan to French painting and Surrealist ideas.
Excited by what he learnt of Surrealism in France, Trevelyan left his course in Cambridge for Paris where he studied at S. W. Hayter's studio and worked alongside Max Ernst, Oska Kokoshka and Joan Miro. By 1936 Trevelyan was a confirmed Surrealist and exhibited at the famous International Exhibition of Surrealism at the New Burlington Galleries in London.
Perhaps concerned by the rise of political extremism, Trevelyan's motivations change and in 1938 he resigned from the English Surrealist Group and began to attend pacifist demonstrations. In response to the Spanish Civil War he produced work in support of the Republican government. During the Second World War he served as a camouflage officer with the Royal Engineers.
After the failure of his first marriage, Trevelyan married fellow artist Mary Fedden. Together they painted a series of murals for the Festival of Britain. The couple travelled widely, making sketches en route which were later worked up into paintings in their studio.
Trevelyan taught art at Chelsea School or Art and later became Head of the Etching Department at the Royal College of Art. He was eventually made fellow of the College. David Hockney was among his inspired pupils. In 1987 Julian Trevelyan was appointed Academician of the Royal Academy of Arts. He died the following year.