Born Mary Harriet Jellet (1897-1944) in Dublin, Mainie was an Irish painter who made it her life’s mission to bring abstract and modernist art into the mainstream in Ireland through the use of religious themes. She studied first at the Metropolitan School of Art in Dublin and under Walter Sickert at the Westminster Technical Institute in London, but then travelled to Paris with fellow artist and friend Evie Hone to study under André Lhote and Albert Gleizes. It was here that she came in contact with cubism and abstract art, returning to Dublin in 1921 with the hopes of introducing the Irish public to impressionist and modern art.
While at first her work was received poorly, through personal effort she was able to turn criticism into success. She represented Ireland at the 1928 Olympic Games as an artist, was commissioned for works for the Glasgow Empire Exhibition (1938) and the Irish Pavilion at the New York World Fair (1939). Jellett was also a co-founder of the Irish Exhibition of Living Art (1943).