30 May 1879
|Died||7 April 1961 81) (aged|
|Alma mater||King's College London|
|Occupation||Painter, interior designer|
Vanessa Bell (née Stephen; 30 May 1879 – 7 April 1961) was an English painter and interior designer, a member of the Bloomsbury Group and the sister of Virginia Woolf.
Vanessa Stephen was the elder daughter of Sir Leslie Stephen and Julia Prinsep Duckworth.The family included her sister Virginia, brothers Thoby (1880–1906) and Adrian (1883–1948), half-sister Laura (1870-1945) whose mother was Harriett Thackeray and half-brothers George and Gerald Duckworth; they lived at 22 Hyde Park Gate, Westminster, London. She was educated at home in languages, mathematics and history, and took drawing lessons from Ebenezer Cook before she attended Sir Arthur Cope's art school in 1896. She then studied painting at the Royal Academy in 1901.
Later in life, she alleged that during her childhood she had been sexually abused by her half-brothers, George and Gerald Duckworth.
After the deaths of her mother in 1895 and her father in 1904, Vanessa sold 22 Hyde Park Gate and moved to Bloomsbury with Virginia and brothers Thoby and Adrian,where they met and began socialising with the artists, writers and intellectuals who would come to form the Bloomsbury Group. The Bloomsbury Group's first Thursday evening meetings began at Bell's house in Gordon Square. Attendees included: Lytton Strachey, Desmond MacCarthy and, later on, Maynard Keynes, Leonard Woolf, Roger Fry and Duncan Grant.
She married Clive Bellin 1907 and they had two sons, Julian (who died in 1937 during the Spanish Civil War at the age of 29) and Quentin. The couple had an open marriage, both taking lovers throughout their lives. Bell had affairs with art critic Roger Fry and with the painter Duncan Grant, with whom she had a daughter, Angelica in 1918, whom Clive Bell raised as his own child.
Vanessa, Clive, Duncan Grant and Duncan's lover David Garnett moved to the Sussex countryside shortly before the outbreak of the First World War, and settled at Charleston Farmhouse near Firle, East Sussex. John Maynard Keynes was also a close friend and frequent member of the household, until his relationship with Lydia Lopokova, whom Bell disliked. At Charleston, Bell and Grant painted and worked on commissions for the Omega Workshops established by Roger Fry. Her first solo exhibition was at the Omega Workshops in 1916. On April 7, 1961, Bell died from a brief illness at Charleston, Firle and was buried in the Firle Parish Churchyard. When Duncan Grant died in 1978, he was buried next to her.
In 1906, when Bell started to think of herself as an artist, she formed the Friday Club to create a place in London that was more favourable to painting.Vanessa was encouraged by the Post-Impressionist exhibitions organised by Roger Fry, and she copied their bright colours and bold forms in her artworks. In 1914, she turned to Abstraction.
Bell rejected the examples of Victorian narrative painting and rejected a discourse on the ideal and aberrant qualities of femininity. She also designed book jackets for all of her sister Virginia's books that were published by Virginia and Leonard Woolf's publishing company, the Hogarth Press.
Bell is one of the most celebrated painters of the Bloomsbury group. She exhibited in London and Paris during her lifetime, and has been praised for innovative works and for her contributions to design.
Bell's paintings include Studland Beach (1912),The Tub (1918), Interior with Two Women (1932), and portraits of her sister Virginia Woolf (three in 1912), Aldous Huxley (1929–1930) and David Garnett (1916). Bell also worked with Duncan Grant to create murals for Berwick Church in Sussex (1940–42).
In 1932, Bell and Grant were commissioned to produce a dinner service for Kenneth Clark.With oversight from Kenneth's wife Jane Clark, they produced the Famous Women Dinner Service: 50 plates painted with portraits of notable women throughout history. The collection eventually passed on to a private collector, and passed out of public view until 2017. The full collection was exhibited in London in early 2018.
In 1916, Bell's first solo exhibition was held in the Omega Workshop in London, a prominent place for exhibitions which supported young artists and introduced design work to the public. Bell became the director of the Omega Workshop around 1912.
Iceland Poppies (1908) was exhibited at the New English Art Club in the summer of 1909. It was praised by Walter Sickert and marks Bell's artistic maturity.
Designs for a Screen: Figures by a Lake (1912), gouache on board, was influenced by Nabis paintings by Édouard Vuillard and Maurice Denis and might have been a part of Bell's exhibit Design for Screen, which was shown at the Friday Club Exhibition in February 1912.
Design for Overmantel Mural (1913), oil on paper, depicts herself and Molly MacCarthy naked in Bell's studio at 46 Gordon Square.
Street Corner Conversation (also created in 1913) features four individuals in conversation amidst massive geometrical forms.
Summer Camp (1913), oil on board, illustrates a summer camp organized at Brandon on the Norfolk-Suffolk border near Thetford.
By the Estuary (1915), oil on canvas, is a modestly scaled landscape showing her fondness for clarity of design in which segments of contrasting color harmonize.
Nude with Poppies (1916), oil on canvas, is a preliminary design for a headboard which Bell painted for Mary Hutchinson.
In 2021, Bell was one of four featured women artists at an exhibition at the Laing Gallery, Newcastle.
Bell was portrayed by Janet McTeer in the 1995 Dora Carrington biopic Carrington , and by Miranda Richardson in the 2002 film The Hours .
Bell is the subject of Susan Sellers' 2010 novel Vanessa and Virginia and of Priya Parmar's 2014 novel Vanessa and Her Sister. In 2015 she was portrayed by Phoebe Fox and Eve Best in the BBC mini-series Life in Squares .
Bell was portrayed by Emerald Fennell in the 2018 film Vita and Virginia .
Adeline Virginia Woolf was an English writer, considered one of the most important modernist 20th-century authors and a pioneer in the use of stream of consciousness as a narrative device.
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".
Duncan James Corrowr Grant was a British painter and designer of textiles, pottery, theatre sets and costumes. He was a member of the Bloomsbury Group.
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.
Lydia Lopokova, Baroness Keynes was a Russian ballerina famous during the early 20th century.
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.
Firle is a village and civil parish in the Lewes District of East Sussex, England. Firle refers to an old-English/Anglo-Saxon word fierol meaning overgrown with oak. Although the original division of East Firle and West Firle still remains, East Firle is now simply confined to the houses of Heighton Street, which lie to the east of the Firle Park. West Firle is now generally referred to as Firle although West Firle remains its official name. It is located south of the A27 road four miles (9 km) east of Lewes.
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.
Quentin Claudian Stephen Bell was an English art historian and author.
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.
Monk's House is a 16th-century weatherboarded cottage in the village of Rodmell, three miles (4.8 km) south of Lewes, East Sussex, England. The writer Virginia Woolf and her husband, the political activist, journalist and editor Leonard Woolf, bought the house by auction at the White Hart Hotel, Lewes, on 1 July 1919 for 700 pounds, and received there many visitors connected to the Bloomsbury Group, including T. S. Eliot, E. M. Forster, Roger Fry and Lytton Strachey. The purchase is described in detail in her Diary, vol. 1, pp. 286–8.
Frances Spalding is a British art historian, writer and a former 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".
Barbara Hiles Bagenal (1891–1984) was an artist associated with members of the Bloomsbury Group, primarily Vanessa Bell and Saxon Sydney-Turner. She was a long-time friend of fellow "Bohemian" and artist Dora Carrington.
Anne Olivier Bell was an English art scholar. She was part of the Bloomsbury Group and best known for editing the diaries of Virginia Woolf. As a member of the Monuments Men, she was responsible for the protection of cultural artefacts in Europe during the Second World War and earned the military rank of Major.
Henrietta Catherine Garnett was an English writer.
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