Friday, July 22, 2011

Duncan Grant and Bloomsbury

"Bathing" by Duncan Grant, 1911

This painting by British artist Duncan Grant was done in 1911 and now hangs in the Tate Gallery in London. He painted it for the dining room at Borough Polytechnic in South London (now London South Bank University).  He and other artists were commissioned to create art work for the school on the theme "London on Holiday."  Duncan Grant was born in Scotland in 1885, was a first cousin to Lytton Strachey, and became a part of the circle of artists and intellectuals that was known as the Bloomsbury Group.  He lived at Charleston Farmhouse in Sussex, England with the artist Vanessa Bell, sister of Virginia Woolf.

"Self-Portrait in a Mirror" by Duncan Grant, 1920

David Leeds has a wonderful art blog called "Husk of Meaning" and he invited me to write about an artist of my choice. So I chose Duncan Grant.  I had so much fun immersing myself in the world of Bloomsbury, the artists in particular, and spent a lot of time reading about Paris and London in 1910.  Today we can only imagine how exciting it must have been for artists in England, such as Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell, to find out what was going on in the art world in Paris in the years before World War I.  Cezanne, Picasso, Matisse and others were revolutionizing art, and things would never be the same.   Modernism was happening and it came to London via Paris.

Please go to "Husk of Meaning" to read the entire piece I wrote on Duncan Grant, one of my favorite artists.  I think you will want to bookmark David Leeds' blog to enjoy his interesting insights on many different cultural topics.  I am always inspired by what I read there!


Bt the way, have any of you been watching "Zen Vendetta" on Masterpiece Mystery on PBS?  It is a stylish Italian detective series that stars the dashing English actor Rufus Sewell.  Wouldn't he make a great Duncan Grant if they ever made a movie about him?  He was in the movie "Carrington," about another Bloomsbury artist, Dora Carrington. He played Mark Gertler, an English artist who had a relationship with Carrington.

 Rufus Sewell


  1. I love Rufus Sewell, and thought he was great in "Carrington." Yes, he's quite dashing, and would make a great Duncan Grant. He's always so good in period pieces. Loved him in "Dangerous Beauty" - which is a horrible title for a great film.

  2. Sunday, you need to get into Owen Wilson's After Midnight carriage and be suspended in that time for a bit!! Love this painting - looks so WPA too!! Will have to pop over to David's blog - I'm sure your piece is brilliant!

  3. Kathy, I want to rent "Carrington" and watch it again to see Rufus Sewell and the other actors who portrayed various members of the Bloomsbury Group. Forgot that he was in "Dangerous Beauty," another really good film.

    Stacey, isn't that painting fabulous! Yes, I would love to get into that carriage and visit Paris in that time period. "Midnight in Paris" was such an enjoyable film and has sparked so much conversation about Hemingway, the Fitzgeralds, etc. Just finished "The Paris Wife" which I loved!

  4. What a great story! Time and again, circles of friends wind up innovating through the mutual inspiration of each other's efforts. Your essay gives me a greater appreciation for the life and times of this amazing group as seen through the brush strokes Grant. Well done!

  5. Sunday,
    You may already know this, but "Dangerous Beauty" was taken from a biography called "Courtesan", about the life and poetry of Veronica Franco.
    Everyone who worked on the film wanted the title of the film to be "Courtesan", but after the distributors took a survey, they found that 95% of the country didn't know the meaning of the word - hence, "Dangerous Beauty" - which I always thought was such a commercial and lowly title for such a great film.

  6. Loved the piece! And thanks for the head's up about the detective series. Can't wait to watch

  7. You could be a casting agent! I agree!!!