Mary Potter was a painter of still lifes and landscape. Born in Beckenham, Kent, she studied at the Beckenham School of Art before being awarded a scholarship to the Royal College of Art. Potter declined and instead, in 1918, took the Orpen bursary and began her studies at the Slade. After gaining a full scholarship the following year, Potter became a protégé of the new Professor, Henry Tonks, eventually graduating with seven awards.

Potter had been made a member of the Seven and Five Society early in its history, in 1921, and their exhibitions provided her first source of critical praise. From 1922 Potter also exhibited with the New English Art Club under her maiden name (Attenborough). This was followed by a move to the London Group, who split from the NEAC, in 1930 when she was made a member. Potter's first solo exhibition took place at the Bloomsbury Gallery in 1932 and was well-reviewed.

Her work was exhibited at the Tate Gallery in 1980 and at the Serpentine Gallery in 1981. Her paintings are represented in the Tate and many public collections in the UK and abroad. She is now recognised as one of the foremost women painters of her time.