Vanessa Bell Copies Vlaminck painting before selling it in Paris

Le Point de Poissy

PONT DE POISSY - PHOTO

The ancient bridge at Poissy, shown above, many times was used to provide passage across the Seine for an invading army  and was at other times destroyed and then rebuilt. The bridge was also painted by numerous Parisian artists, including Derain, Utrillo, Monet, Pissarro, and by Maurice de Vlaminck in 1910, following the 4 year period during which Vlaminck along with Matisse and Derain experimented using brilliant colours in non-naturalistic ways in their Fauve period from 1904 to 1908.

Vlaminck’s painting of the river and bridge shown below is restrained in its use of colour, reminding one more of a Cézanne of the 1890s than of a painting in the Fauve manner.

MAURICE DE VLADMINCK - LE POINT DE POISSY

This 60cm x 80cm canvas named simply Le Point de Poissy was shown in London by Roger Fry in 1910 as part of his exhibition of more than 200 pieces at the Grafton Galleries in Mayfair which he called Manet and the Post Impressionists.  This was the first major post-Impressionist exhibition to be mounted in the anglophone world and it caused an immediate and volatile reaction.  One critic for The Pall Mall Gazette, for example, went as far as to describe the paintings in the exhibit as the “output of a lunatic asylum”.

Clive and Vanessa Bell must have studied the painting and considered purchasing it at the time, as four years later in Paris they acquired it from its Parisian art dealer Kahnweiler.

Much later, they would sell the painting, but before doing so, Vanessa made a copy, which may now be seen in the Charleston Farmhouse located in the village of Firle, in the Lewes District of East Sussex.  The copy does not attempt to be a close imitation of the original but rather it is a Vanessa Bell painting, taking as its starting point the painting by Vlaminck.

Poissy le Pont (copy of Maurice de Vlaminck

Vanessa painted in a variety of styles during her life.  The portrait of  Dora Morris (below) seated next to a dresser with her reflection shows her ability to convey delicate nuances of personality in a subtle manner.

DORA MORRIS

There is a lightness and loveliness of colour in the fruit in her still life paintings.

APPLES

To see a slide show of Vanessa’s paintings in oil on canvas and in watercolour click

Duncan Grant

Duncan Grant was a charming person who devoted his life to art.  He endlessly experimented with various styles of painting throughout his life and he died at age 92.  He was born in Scotland in 1885, the son of a British Army officer and his first 8 years were spent with his father in India and Burma before he returned to England to attend Rugby School.  There he met Rupert Brooke and became interested in art, subsequently enrolling in Westminster School of Art and then attending Jacques-Emile Blanche’s La Palette in Paris in 1906 at the age of 21. While in Paris he copied Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin’s famous 18th Century still-life paintings in the Louvre and apparently was unaware of the existence of Matisse and Derain’s explosive works and the development of les Fauves art in Paris which was taking place at that time.

On returning to London, we know that Grant began to have gay relations with his first cousin Lytton Strachey, a prominent member of the Bloomsbury Group.  He would also become involved in a long-term relationship with John Maynard Keynes, the famous economist and a founding member of the Bloomsbury Group.

In 1910 Grant’s work was exhibited at the Grafton Galleries in London and two years later he helped Roger Fry select French and Russian paintings for the exhibition “British, French and Russian Artists”.  This was a groundbreaking exhibition for art in England which included works by Picasso, Matisse, Cézanne, Kandinsky, Grant and Fry.

In 1913 Grant joined with Roger Fry and Vanessa Bell to form the Omega  Workshops.  It was at this time when working closely together on numerous projects that Duncan and Vanessa’s lifelong partnership began. This eventually led to Grant moving into Vanessa’s home with her two young sons, Julian and Quentin, and becoming involved in an intimate relationship with her.  Five years later Vanessa became pregnant and gave birth to Grant’s child whom they named Angelica.

Duncan Grant and Vanessa often painted together in their studio at home and they were able to travel and paint in many villages and in the countryside in France, Italy, Spain and other countries.

If you would like to see a wide ranging selection of Duncan Grant’s work you can do so by viewing the two slide shows of Duncan’s works which are  executed in oils, most of which are available for viewing in England.

The first slide show of 100 works is at https://vimeo.com/76279394 .  A second show of 132 paintings is at https://vimeo.com/76284687 .

The source of this collection is the BBC’s collection of art on their website at http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/yourpaintings/.

The Bloomsbury Group

Now reading the refreshing and unpredictable Quentin Bell as he remembers his early life in Bloomsbury Recalled (published just 6 months before his death 1996).

Quentin was born in London in 1910 and began his life in the family home at 46 Gordon Square, Bloomsbury with his mother, Vanessa Bell and older brother during the flowering of the Bloomsbury Group.  Vanessa was the sister of Virginia Woolf, married to the art critic Clive Bell from Trinity College Cambridge where Vanessa’s brother Thoby had met Clive and formed friendships with him,  Leonard Woolf, Lytton Strachey, David Garnett, Duncan Grant, John Maynard Keynes and others who then began to meet regularly on ‘Thursday evenings’ for discussions of literature, art and philosophy in Gordon Square, in Bloomsbury, Loindon.

It was within this cultural milieu that Quentin began his life, along with his brother Julian.  Their half-sister Angelica would not be born for another 8 years by which time their father Clive had left home and was replaced by the painter Duncan Grant who fathered Angelica.

Clive, who himself had a reputation for unhidden multiple affairs, did not divorce Vanessa; he accepted the romantic relationship between Vanessa and Duncan and even agreed for Angelica to use the Bell name.

Duncan, her new painting partner and the father of Angelica, was bisexual.  Earlier he had had a romantic relationship  with Lytton Strachey and was involved in a long term relationship with the Cambridge economist, John Maynard Keynes.  Both Strachey and Keynes were active members of the Bloomsbury Group.  Keynes later surprised everyone when he developed an interest in women and married a Russian ballerina named Lydia Lopokova at age 38.

Quentin remarks on the emotional difficulties he experienced growing up in what he termed “a multi-parent family.”

Duncan Grant painted  subjects varying from still life interior arrangements to rustic   outdoor scenes in England, France, Italy and Spain. He received critical acclaim for his paintings and for his contributions to early 20th Century English Post-impressionistic painting.

Below is an abstract rendering of rooms which he painted in the interior of the Gordon Square home where he and Vanessa lived.

Duncan Grant - Interior at Gordon Square

The portrait of his daughter Angelica below was painted much later  in 1940.

Angelica Garnette 1940 Duncan Grant

Vanessa enjoyed decorating the rooms of whatever house she lived in, as shown by the photograph and painting below.  The  photo is of a room that she and Duncan used as their atelier in Charleston.  Below this is an oil painting by Duncan of another  decorated room, very different in style from his painting of rooms in Gordon Square shown above.

Artist's studio in Charleston

Interior by Duncan Grant:

Interior by Duncan Grant

Looking forward to reading Quentin Bell’s other books.