Beatrice Fenton was born on July 12, 1887 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to ophthalmologist Thomas H. Fenton and Lizzie Remak Fenton, who was the daughter of prominent lawyer Gustavus Remak.
From 1903-1904 Fenton began to study art at the Philadelphia School of Industrial Art under Alexander Stirling Calder. Through her father's aunt, Mary Fenton Holmes, she met Thomas Eakins who advised her to sculpt in clay in order to overcome flatness in drawings. In 1904 Eakins painted a portrait of Fenton as the central figure in The Coral Necklace.
Fenton was attracted to sculpture and continued her studies in this field from 1904-1908 at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, under Charles Grafly. Here she began life-long friendships with fellow students Marjorie Martinet and Emily Clayton Bishop.
A Cresson European Traveling Scholarship enabled Fenton to visit Belgium, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Greece, France, and England during the summer of 1909. She returned to the Pennsylvania Academy and won a second scholarship that financed further travel to Spain, France, Holland, Belgium, and England in 1910 with Marjorie Martinet. On her return from Europe Fenton began working as an artist in Philadelphia.
Both Fenton and Martinet were deeply affected by the sudden death of Emily Clayton Bishop in 1912, and spent several years promoting Bishop's sculpture. Martinet, who changed the spelling of her surname from Martenet to Martinet in June 1918, established her own art school in Baltimore, Maryland, and later taught painting at the Maryland Institute of Art. Fenton and Martinet maintained a close relationship for fifty years, primarily through correspondence.
Fenton's first success came with a portrait bust of her father's friend, painter and etcher Peter Moran, brother of Thomas Moran. The bust was purchased by the painter's friends for the Art Club and in 1915 won Honorable Mention in the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco. The success of Fenton's Seaweed Fountain in 1922 generated many commissions, primarily for fountains.
Martinet taught at Oldfields School from 1925 to 1961. From 1942 to 1953, Fenton taught at the Moore College of Art in Philadelphia, and later joined the faculty of St. John's Night School for Adults.
Beatrice Fenton died February 11, 1983 in Germantown, Pennsylvania.