Duncan James Corrowr Grant
21 January 1885
|Died||8 May 1978 93) (aged|
|Known for||Member of the Bloomsbury Group|
|Partner(s)|| Vanessa Bell |
Duncan James Corrowr Grant (21 January 1885 – 8 May 1978) was a British painter and designer of textiles, pottery, theatre sets and costumes. He was a member of the Bloomsbury Group.
His father was Bartle Grant, a "poverty-stricken" major in the army, and much of his early childhood was spent in India and Burma. He was a grandson of Sir John Peter Grant, 12th Laird of Rothiemurchus, KCB, GCMG, sometime Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal.Grant was also the first cousin twice removed of John Grant, 13th Earl of Dysart (b. 1946).
Grant was born on 21 January 1885 to Major Bartle Grant and Ethel Isabel McNeil in Rothiemurchus, Aviemore, Scotland. –1901, where he was awarded several art prizes.Between 1887 and 1894 the family lived in India and Burma, returning to England every two years. During this period Grant was educated by his governess, Alice Bates. Along with Rupert Brooke, Grant attended Hillbrow School, Rugby, 1894–99, where he received lessons from an art teacher and became interested in Japanese prints. During this period Grant spent his school holidays at Hogarth House, Chiswick, with his grandmother, Lady Grant. He attended St Paul's School, London (as a boarder for two terms), 1899
From about 1899/1900 to 1906 Grant lived with his aunt and uncle, Sir Richard and Lady Strachey and their children. When Grant was younger, he accompanied Lady Strachey to "picture Sunday" which gave him the opportunity to meet with eminent painters. Lady Strachey was able to persuade Grant's parents that he should be allowed to pursue an education in art.In 1902 Grant was enrolled by his aunt at Westminster School of Art; he attended for the next three years. While at Westminster, Grant was encouraged in his studies by Simon Bussy, a French painter and lifelong friend of Matisse, who went on to marry Dorothy Strachey.
In the winter of 1904–5 Grant visited Italy where, commissioned by Harry Strachey, he made copies of part of the Masaccio frescoes in the Brancacci Chapel, in the Church of Santa Maria del Carmine, Florence.Grant also made a study of the Portrait of Federigo da Montefeltro, one half of the diptych by Piero della Francesca in the Uffizi and was greatly impressed by the frescoes of Piero in the Basilica of San Francesco, Arezzo. On his return, at the advice of Simon Bussy, Grant made a copy of the Angel musicians in Piero's Nativity in the National Gallery, London.
Grant was introduced to Vanessa Bell (then Vanessa Stephen) by Pippa Strachey at the Friday Club in the autumn of 1905.From 1906, thanks to a gift of £100 from an aunt, Grant spent a year in Paris studying at the Académie de La Palette, Jacques-Émile Blanche's school. During this period he visited the Musée du Luxembourg and saw, among other paintings, the Caillebotte bequest of French Impressionists.
In January 1907, and again in the summer of 1908, Grant spent a term at the Slade School of Art.In 1908, Grant painted a portrait of John Maynard Keynes, who he had met the previous year, while the two were on holiday in Orkney. A year later, the pair would share rooms on Belgrave Road.
In 1909 Grant visited Michael and Gertrude Stein in Paris and saw their collection that included paintings by, among others, Picasso and Matisse.In the summer, with an introduction from Simon Bussy, Grant visited Matisse himself, then living at Clamart, Paris.
In November 1909, Grant moved to 21 Fitzroy Square, where he occupied two rooms on the second floor of the building on the west side of the square.A few doors away, at 29 Fitzroy Square, lived Adrian and Virginia Stephen (later Virginia Woolf). Grant would later recall: 'a close friendship sprang up between Adrian Stephen and myself and I had only to tap on the window to be let in. The maid told Virginia "that Mr Grant gets in everywhere". But very irregular as my visits were, they became more and more a habit, and I think they soon became frequent enough to escape notice.'
In June 1910 Grant exhibited with the Friday Club at the Alpine Club Gallery.Later that year Grant would visit Roger Fry's Manet and the Post-Impressionists exhibition at the Grafton Galleries in Mayfair, which included work by the likes of Gauguin, Matisse and Van Gogh, where he was said to be particularly interested in the paintings of Paul Cézanne.
During the summer of 1911 Grant was invited by Roger Fry to contribute to the redecoration of the dining room at the Borough Polytechnic (now London South Bank University).Grant composed two oil paintings to fit with the theme of illustrating London on Holiday. Both his paintings, Football and Bathing, bear the influence of early Italian art and Byzantine mosaics. Grant also drew on his exposure to the work of the post-impressionists; The Times reported of his depiction of the figures that 'Mr Grant has used all his remarkable powers of draughtsmanship to represent the act of swimming rather than any individual swimmers.’
In February 1910 Grant, along with Horace de Vere Cole, Virginia Stephen, Adrian Stephen and others, disguised themselves as an Abyssinian royal delegation and fooled their way on to HMS Dreadnought.The delegation was greeted by a band and given a tour of the battleship. As flag ship of the Home Fleet, the Dreadnought was a high-profile target for the pranksters, and as such the hoax attracted much attention in the press once discovered.
Grant is best known for his painting style, which developed in the wake of French post-impressionist exhibitions mounted in London in 1910. He often worked with, and was influenced by, another member of the group, art critic and artist Roger Fry. As well as painting landscapes and portraits, Fry designed textiles and ceramics.
After Fry founded the Omega Workshops in 1913, Grant became co-director with Vanessa Bell, who was then involved with Fry. Although Grant had always been actively homosexual, a relationship with Vanessa blossomed, which was both creative and personal, and he eventually moved in with her and her two sons by her husband Clive Bell. In 1916, in support of his application for recognition as a conscientious objector, Grant joined his new lover, David Garnett, in setting up as fruit farmers in Suffolk. Both their applications were initially unsuccessful, but eventually the Central Tribunal agreed to recognise them on condition of their finding more appropriate premises. Vanessa Bell found the house named Charleston near Firle in Sussex. Relationships with Clive Bell remained amicable, and Bell stayed with them for long periods fairly often – sometimes accompanied by his own mistress, Mary Hutchinson.
In 1935 Grant was selected along with nearly 30 other prominent British artists of the day to provide works of art for the RMS Queen Mary then being built in Scotland. Grant was commissioned to provide paintings and fabrics for the first class Main Lounge. In early 1936, after his work was installed in the Lounge, directors from the Cunard Line made a walk-through inspection of the ship. When they saw what Grant had created, they immediately rejected his works and ordered it removed.
Grant is quoted in the book The Mary: The Inevitable Ship, by Potter and Frost, as saying:
During World War Two, Grant received a short-term commission from the War Artists' Advisory Committee for two paintings, the most notable of which is an image of St Paul's Cathedral during the 1941 London Blitz as seen from the basement of a nearby bombed building.
In the late 1950s Grant was commissioned to decorate the Russell Chantry of Lincoln Cathedral. Grant modelled the figure of Christ in these murals on his lover Paul Roche. The Cathedral authorities closed the Chantry in the 1960s and it was used as a store room for many years. Grants' murals were eventually restored and the space reopened to the public in the 1990s.
Grant's early affairs were exclusively homosexual. His lovers included his cousin, the writer Lytton Strachey, the future politician Arthur Hobhouse and the economist John Maynard Keynes, who at one time considered Grant the love of his life because of his good looks and the originality of his mind. Through Strachey, Grant became involved in the Bloomsbury Group, where he made many such great friends including Vanessa Bell. He would eventually live with Vanessa Bell who, though she was a married woman, fell deeply in love with him and, one night, succeeded in seducing him; Bell very much wanted a child by Grant, and she became pregnant in the spring of 1918. Although it is generally assumed that Grant's sexual relations with Bell ended in the months before Angelica was born (Christmas, 1918), they continued to live together for more than 40 years. During that time, their relationship was mainly domestic and creative; they often painted in the same studio together, praising and critiquing each other's work.
Living with Vanessa Bell was no impediment to Grant's relationships with men, either before or after Angelica was born. Angelica grew up believing that Vanessa's husband Clive Bell was her biological father; she bore his surname and his behaviour toward her never indicated otherwise. Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell had formed an open relationship, although she herself apparently never had any further affairs. Duncan, in contrast, had many physical affairs and several serious relationships with other men, most notably David Garnett, who would one day marry Angelica and have four daughters with her, including Amaryllis Garnett. Grant's love and respect for Bell, however, kept him with her until her death in 1961.
Angelica wrote: "(Grant) was a homosexual with bisexual leanings".
In Grant's later years, his lover, the poet Paul Roche (1916–2007), whom he had known since 1946, took care of him and enabled Grant to maintain his accustomed way of life at Charleston for many years. Grant and Roche's relationship was strong and lasted even during Roche's marriage and five children he had by the late 1950s. Roche was made co-heir of Grant's estate. Grant eventually died in Roche's home in 1978.
Duncan Grant's remains are buried beside Vanessa Bell's in the churchyard of St Peter's Church, West Firle, East Sussex.
The Bloomsbury Group—or Bloomsbury Set—was a group of associated English writers, intellectuals, philosophers and artists in the first half of the 20th century, including Virginia Woolf, John Maynard Keynes, E. M. Forster and Lytton Strachey. This loose collective of friends and relatives was closely associated with the University of Cambridge for the men and King's College London for the women, and they lived, worked or studied together near Bloomsbury, London. According to Ian Ousby, "although its members denied being a group in any formal sense, they were united by an abiding belief in the importance of the arts." Their works and outlook deeply influenced literature, aesthetics, criticism, and economics as well as modern attitudes towards feminism, pacifism, and sexuality. A well-known quote, attributed to Dorothy Parker, is "they lived in squares, painted in circles and loved in triangles".
Vanessa Bell was an English painter and interior designer, a member of the Bloomsbury Group and the sister of Virginia Woolf.
Arthur Clive Heward Bell was an English art critic, associated with formalism and the Bloomsbury Group. He developed the art theory known as significant form.
Roger Eliot Fry was an English painter and critic, and a member of the Bloomsbury Group. Establishing his reputation as a scholar of the Old Masters, he became an advocate of more recent developments in French painting, to which he gave the name Post-Impressionism. He was the first figure to raise public awareness of modern art in Britain, and emphasised the formal properties of paintings over the "associated ideas" conjured in the viewer by their representational content. He was described by the art historian Kenneth Clark as "incomparably the greatest influence on taste since Ruskin ...In so far as taste can be changed by one man, it was changed by Roger Fry". The taste Fry influenced was primarily that of the Anglophone world, and his success lay largely in alerting an educated public to a compelling version of recent artistic developments of the Parisian avant-garde.
The Omega Workshops Ltd. was a design enterprise founded by members of the Bloomsbury Group and established in July 1913. It was located at 33 Fitzroy Square in London, and was founded with the intention of providing graphic expression to the essence of the Bloomsbury ethos. The Workshops were also closely associated with the Hogarth Press and the artist and critic Roger Fry, who was the principal figure behind the project, believed that artists could design, produce and sell their own works, and that writers could also be their own printers and publishers. The Directors of the firm were Fry, Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell.
Dora de Houghton Carrington, known generally as Carrington, was an English painter and decorative artist, remembered in part for her association with members of the Bloomsbury Group, especially the writer Lytton Strachey. From her time as an art student, she was known simply by her surname as she considered Dora to be "vulgar and sentimental". She was not well known as a painter during her lifetime, as she rarely exhibited and did not sign her work. She worked for a while at the Omega Workshops, and for the Hogarth Press, designing woodcuts.
Julian Heward Bell was an English poet, and the son of Clive and Vanessa Bell. The writer Quentin Bell was his younger brother and the writer and painter Angelica Garnett was his half-sister. His relationship with his mother is explored in Susan Sellers' novel Vanessa and Virginia.
David Garnett was an English writer and publisher. As a child, he had a cloak made of rabbit skin and thus received the nickname "Bunny", by which he was known to friends and intimates all his life.
Charleston, in East Sussex, is a property associated with the Bloomsbury group, that is open to the public. It was the country home of Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant and is an example of their decorative style within a domestic context, representing the fruition of more than sixty years of artistic creativity. In addition to the house and artists' garden, Charleston hosts a year-round programme of Bloomsbury and contemporary exhibitions in a suite of galleries designed by Jamie Fobert Architects which opened in September 2018. Two restored barns are home to The Threshing Barn café and The Hay Barn where events and workshops are held throughout the year. The outer studio at Charleston hosts a permanent display of Bell and Grant's Famous Women Dinner Service, and there is also a shop selling Bloomsbury-inspired art, homeware fabrics, fashion, books and stationery.
Mikhail Fyodorovich Larionov was a Russian avant-garde painter who worked with radical exhibitors and pioneered the first approach to abstract Russian art. His lifelong partner was fellow avant-garde artist, Natalia Goncharova.
Mark Gertler, born Marks Gertler, was a British painter of figure subjects, portraits and still-life.
Angelica Vanessa Garnett, was a British writer, painter and artist. She was the author of the memoir Deceived with Kindness (1984), an account of her experience growing up at the heart of the Bloomsbury Group.
The Radev Collection is a private art collection comprising more than 800 works by Impressionist and Modernist artists including Georges Braque, Picasso, Mogdigliani, Duncan Grant, France Hodgkins, Ben Nicholson, and Lucien Pissarro. It is named after the Bulgarian emigre Mattei Radev, a picture framer and art collector, who moved in the social circles of the Bloomsbury group. It originated with music critic Edward Sackville-West, 5th Baron Sackville, who began the collection in 1938. It was inherited by the artist and art dealer Eardley Knollys in 1965 and later by Radev in 1991.
Richard Shone is a British art historian and art critic specializing in British modern art, and from 2003–15 was the editor of The Burlington Magazine.
The Bloomsbury Group plays a prominent role in the LGBT history of its day.
Life in Squares is a British television mini-series that was broadcast on BBC Two from 27 July to 10 August 2015. The title comes from Dorothy Parker's witticism that the Bloomsbury Group, whose lives it portrays, had "lived in squares, painted in circles and loved in triangles".
Stephen Tomlin was a British artist associated with the Bloomsbury Set. He was the youngest son of the judge and law lord Thomas, Lord Tomlin of Ash.
Mary Barnes Hutchinson was a British short-story writer, socialite, model and a member of the Bloomsbury Group.
Albert Simon Aimé Bussy was a French painter who married the English novelist Dorothy Bussy. He knew and painted many members of the Bloomsbury circle.