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