Cecil Kennedy was born in Leyton, England on 4th February, 1905. He was born into a large Victorian family who were all very artistic. Kennedy is one of the most well known members of the English Contemporary School. He painted some portraits but will always be best remembered for his minutely detailed paintings of flowers.
Kennedy studied art in London and began exhibiting his work from an early age. Before he was 24, he had shown at the Royal Scottish Academy and the Royal Hibernian Academy, and he then went on to exhibit regularly at the Royal Academy and in the provinces.
During the early 1930’s Cecil Kennedy married Winifred Aves, and she was to become a major influence and inspiration to him. For sixty-four years they worked together as a creative team; she was very skilled at creating the beautiful flower arrangements that Kennedy painted, and over the years the couple collected many mid-eighteenth century Waterford vases which continually featured in his work.
In the Second World War, Kennedy was called up and he fought in the Eighth Army in Europe. During the winter of 1944 Kennedy was based in Antwerp, and it was here that he familiarized himself with the Dutch and Flemish Old Master flower paintings at first hand. He befriended Flemish painters and this interaction brought about a definite change in Kennedy’s painting style and technique.