1.6.2 Bloomsbury Group (1905-1945)

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QUICK LINKS:
Lemon Gatherers, Grant
London on Holiday, Fry
River with Poplars, Fry
The Big Girl, Etchells
Studland Beach, Bell
Abstract Kinetic Collage Painting With Sound, Grant
Still life, Mantlepiece, Bell
Abstract Painting, Bell
Essay in Abstract Design, Fry

Vanessa Bell, Grant
Lytton Stretchey, Carrington
The Tub, Bell
Edith Sitwell, Fry
Arum Lillies, Bell
Self Portrait, Grant
E M Forster, Carrington
Roger Fry, Self Portrait, Fry
Girl at the Piano, Grant

The Bloomsbury Group aka 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.

[Source: thecultureprojectblog.wordpress.com]

[1620-10]


Image source: tate.org.uk
This painting has often been seen as a reflection of Duncan Grant’s visit to Tunis and Sicily in 1911, but he states that it was inspired by the Sicilian Players who appeared at the Shaftesbury Theatre in February–March 1908, and that it was painted at Fitzroy Square, where he lived 1910–11.
[Source: tate.org.uk]
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Lemon Gatherers1910Oil/MillboardGenre painting
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Grant, Duncan James Corrowr1885-1978, aged 93Scottish artistBloomsbury Group
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1620-11]

Tate Galleries, Millbank, Westminster, London SW1P 4RG UK57 x 82  
 In 1911 Roger Fry was invited to organise the decoration of the dining room at Borough Polytechnic in South London (now South Bank University). He persuaded Duncan Grant and two other young artists, Bernard Adeney and Frederick Etchells, to work alongside him and create designs illustrating the theme of ‘London on Holiday’.

Although Duncan Grant’s two pictures Bathing and Football, reflected his interest in both early Italian art and Byzantine mosaics, the paintings look strikingly modern. This is not solely due to the contemporary subject matter (bathers swimming in the Serpentine and footballers in Hyde Park), but also Grant’s interpretation of earlier styles, influenced perhaps by the contemporary French art of the Post-Impressionists that Roger Fry had introduced to him. The figures in the paintings are not carefully delineated individuals but rather provide an impression of the acts of swimming or of playing football.
[Source: tateorg.uk]

Image source: tate.org.uk
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
‘Bathing’ part of ‘London on Holiday’ (The Borough Polytechnic Murals)1911Oil/CanvasGenre painting
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Fry, Roger Eliot, Duncan Grant, et al1866-1934, aged 68English artistBloomsbury Group
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1620-12]

Tate Galleries, Millbank, Westminster, London SW1P 4RG UK228 x 306  

Image source: tate.org.uk
This view was painted from the bridge at Angles sur l’Anglin near Poitiers in France.

Fry had discovered the painting of Paul Cézanne in 1906, the year of Cézanne’s death, and had built an aesthetic theory largely based on the way Cézanne constructed his pictures. The style of this painting is like Cézanne in the suppression of detail, and in the organisation of the colouring into clear masses.

The shapes are deliberately made to look solid, even the clouds and the banks of reeds in the river.
[Source: tate.org.uk]
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
River with Poplarsc1912Oil/WoodLandscape
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Fry, Roger Eliot1866-1934, aged 68English artistBloomsbury Group
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1620-13]

Tate Galleries, Millbank, Westminster, London SW1P 4RG UK57 x 71  
Spending time in Paris, Etchells was well acquainted with the Continental avant-garde, and was on friendly terms with Picasso, Braque and Modigliani.

In London he formed a friendship with Roger Fry and through him other members of the Bloomsbury Group.

Later he gravitated towards Wyndham Lewis and the Vorticists.

Both Etchells’s sister Jessie and Madge Pulsford modelled for this painting, so it is not a formal portrait but rather a study in mood and style. The broken touches of paint and soft, Fauve-like colouring show how close Etchell’s work was to Duncan Grant’s at this time.
[Source: tate.org.uk]

Image source: tate.org.uk
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Big Girl, Thec1912Tempera on boardPortrait
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Etchells, Frederick1886-1973, aged 87English artistBloomsbury Group
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1620-14]

Tate Galleries / Estate of Frederick Etchells75 x 63  

Image source: tate.org.uk
In Bell’s Studland Beach [Verso: Group of Male Nudes by Duncan Grant] we are looking at a dramatically simplified landscape with two groups of people.

The crouching figures, beach houses and seascape are depicted as flattened shapes and broad bands of colour. The painting emphasizes what Bell’s husband Clive called significant form.

The figures in the left foreground of the canvas seem to be watching those in the upper right corner, bringing attention to the act of perception incorporated in painting.
[Source: galleryintell.com]
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Studland Beach1912Oil/CanvasGenre painting
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Bell, Vanessa1879-1961, aged 82English artistBloomsbury Group
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1620-15]

Tate Galleries / Estate of Vanessa Bell76 x 102  

Image source: tate.org.uk
 On 25 August 1914, Vanessa Bell wrote to Roger Fry from Asheham House, Sussex Duncan and I do nothing here but paint. He has started on a long painting which is meant to be rolled up after the manner of those Chinese paintings and seen purely by degrees. It is purely abstrac’.

In a letter to Fry from Asheham, dated 1 September 1914, she added Duncan has been doing most lovely still-lifes besides his long roll.

In reply to the question whether Chinese scroll painting was an influence, the artist wrote (June 1974) that Chinese scroll painting suggested that movement played a great part in establishing the relationship of pictorial forms, in Chinese art mainly landscape forms, in my attempt more purely abstract.
[Source: tate.org.uk]
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Abstract Kinetic Collage Painting With Sound1914Gouache, Watercolour on paperAbstract
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Grant, Duncan1885-1978, aged 93Scottish artistBloomsbury Group
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1620-16]

Tate Galleries / Estate of Duncan Grant28 x 450  
Vanessa Bell was a central figure of the Bloomsbury group, a group of artists, writers and intellectuals, formed in 1905.

This mantlepiece was in Vanessa Bell’s house at 46 Gordon Square in London, where the group would often meet.

The objects on it include handmade paper flowers from the Omega Workshops, a design company founded by Roger Fry, a member of the group. Bell’s use of an unconventional low viewpoint, fractured, abstracted forms and bright colours show her exploring techniques associated with Fauvism and Cubism.
[Source: tate.org.uk]

Image source: tate.org.uk
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Still Life On Corner of A Mantlepiece1914Oil/CanvasStill Life
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Bell, Vanessa1879-1961, aged 82English artistBloomsbury Group
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1620-17]

Tate Galleries / Estate of Vanessa Bell61 x 51  

Image source: tate.org.uk
Made in London in around 1914, this work is one of only four fully non-representational paintings within Bell’s oeuvre.

They show the artist experimenting with abstraction and investigating through her practice theories of significant form propounded by her husband, the art critic Clive Bell, and her close friend and former partner, the painter and critic Roger Fry.

The work represents a critical pivot in Bell’s career, when she was balancing theory against practice, form against signification, aesthetics against representation. The abstract geometrical forms in this work are reminiscent of the mosaic-like representation of the domestic environment and the mottled effect of colour in earlier works.
[Source: tate.org.uk]
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Abstract Paintingc1914Oil/CanvasAbstract
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Bell, Vanessa1879-1961, aged 82English artistBloomsbury Group
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1620-18]

Tate Galleries / Estate of Vanessa Bell44 x 39  
This is one of the very few abstract works by Fry to have survived, and is one of three he exhibited in 1915.

His use of the bus tickets was clearly inspired by Picasso. Fry has used real tickets and stuck them down to the painted board. They are for Route 88, which runs past the Tate Gallery, although from a different stage of that route.

It was Fry who gave intellectual focus to the Bloomsbury Group of artists and writers. He had trained as a painter in France and Italy, and with Sickert in London, but became best known as a highly influential writer, critic and lecturer.

Fry organised two exhibitions of Post-Impressionist art in 1910 and 1912, showing types of European pictures then little known in Britain.
[Source: tate.org.uk]

Image source: tate.org.uk
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Essay in Abstract Design1914-5Oil/Bus tickets/WoodAbstract
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Fry, Roger Eliot1866-1934, aged 68English artistBloomsbury Group
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1620-19]

Tate Galleries, Millbank, Westminster, London SW1P 4RG UK36 x 27  

Image source: charleston.org.uk
Bell began to work with Grant, a younger painter whose work she admired, from around 1913 and they subsequently fell in love.

This is one of two portraits of Bell by Duncan Grant. Its use of rich, vibrant colour and pattern demonstrates Grant’s adoption of a Post-Impressionist style.

At the time the portrait was painted, Bell was also experimenting with bold colour and simplified form in her own painting.
[Source: npg.org.uk]
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Vanessa Bell, Portrait of1915-6Collage/Oil/WoodPortrait
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Grant, Duncan1885-1978, aged 93Scottish artistBloomsbury Group
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1620-20]

Charleston, Lewes UK ? / National Portrait Gallery 127 x 102  
In the First World War, when this portrait was made, he was a conscientious objector. He wrote for various journals and magazines while his Eminent Victorians (1918), with essays on Cardinal Manning, Florence Nightingale and General Gordon, made his name and set standards for literary biography for the twentieth century.
[Source: npg.org.uk]

Image source: npg.org.uk
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Lytton Stretchey, Portrait of1917Oil/PanelPortrait
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Carrington, Dora1893-1932, aged 39English artistBloomsbury Group
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1620-21]

National Portrait Gallery, London UK51 x 61  

Image source: tate.org.uk
The Tub painted in 1917, has a simplified abstract background.

With The Tub we also see Bell returning to a more figurative style.

A letter to Roger Fry of 1918, provides a glimpse into her approach:
I’ve been working at my big bather picture and am rather excited about that. I’ve taken out the woman’s chemise and in consequence she is quite nude and much more decent.
[Source: tate.org.uk]
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Tub, The1917Oil/Gouache/CanvasGenre painting
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Bell, Vanessa1879-1961, aged 82English artistBloomsbury Group
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1620-22]

Tate Galleries / Estate of Vanessa Bell180 x 166  
Roger Eliot Fry, born into a Quaker family, was an English art critic and artist, best known as the champion of the movement he termed Post-Impressionism.

Sitwell was a British poet and critic and the eldest of the three literary Sitwells. She reacted badly to her eccentric, unloving parents and lived much of her life with her governess.

She never married but became passionately attached to Russian painter Pavel Tchelitchew, and her home was always open to London’s poetic circle, to whom she was generous and helpful.
[Surce: Wikimedia commons]

Image source: Sheffield Galleries and Museums Trust
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Edith Sitwell, Portrait of1918Oil/CanvasPortrait
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Fry, Roger Eliot1866-1934, aged 68English artistBloomsbury Group
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1620-23]

Sheffield Museum UK (?)  

Image source: artandarchitecture.org.uk
Vanessa Bell’s love of flowers is apparent throughout her career and they appear in much of her work, whether real, or paper flowers made for the Omega workshop.

This sobre arrangement of a few flowers in a distinctive and prominent vase set against a patterned background is typical of her still-life painting in the immediate post-war period.

The vase is placed on the kind of painted rush-seated chair she would have used at Charleston farmhouse in Sussex, where she and Duncan Grant went to live in 1916.

The shapes of chair-back and vase echo each other, and the bold design in the background repeats the outlines of the arum lilies.
[Source: artandarchitecture.org.uk]
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Arum Lillies1919Oil/CanvasStill Life
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Bell, Vanessa1879-1961, aged 82English artistBloomsbury Group
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1620-24]

Courtauld Institute of Art, London UK45 x 74  
Grant was a prominent member of the literary and artistic circle, the Bloomsbury group, which included the writer Virginia Woolf, the art critic Clive Bell and the economist, John Maynard Keynes.

In the background of this self-portrait, reversed in the mirror, Grant has included Matisse’s painting ‘Woman Seated in an Arm Chair’. Grant had persauded Keynes to buy this painting; he had visited Matisse in Paris some years earlier and was much influenced by his work.
[Source: nationalgalleries.org]

Image source: nationalgalleries.org
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Self Portrait1920Oil/CanvasPortrait
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Grant, Duncan1885-1978, aged 93Scottish artistBloomsbury Group
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1620-25]

National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh UK61 x 46  

Image source: bl.uk
Carrington’s portrait of Forster was achieved without a sitting. It was much admired by Henry Lamb who wrote to her: I think there is something so very good about your head of Forster.

Forster was an English fiction writer, essayist and librettist. Many of his novels examine class difference and hypocrisy, including A Room with a View (1908), Howards End (1910) and A Passage to India (1924). The last brought him his greatest success.
[Source: npg.org.uk/ Wikimedia commons]
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
E M Forster, Portrait of1924-5Oil/CanvasPortrait
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Carrington, Dora1893-1932, aged 39English artistBloomsbury Group
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1620-26]

British Library, London UK0  
Fry was not a vain man yet at various moments in his life he turned his attention upon himself, producing a series of introspective self-portraits.

As in all of these, in this work there is a level gaze, a careful, critical self appraisal in which the importance of looking seems to outweigh the expression of his personality.

This is the only portrait in which he is shown wearing a hat, and the light catching the edge of the brim creates a horizontal that balances the verticality of the face.
[Source: artfund.org]

Image source: wikimedia commons
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Roger Fry, Self Portrait1928Oil/CanvasPortrait
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Fry, Roger Eliot1866-1934, aged 68English artistBloomsbury Group
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1620-27]

Courtauld Institute of Art, London UK46 x 37  

Image source: tate.org.uk
Painted at Charleston; the girl is Angelica, daughter of Clive and Vanessa Bell.
[Source: tate.org.uk]
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Girl at the Piano1940Oil/CanvasGenre painting
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Grant, Duncan1885-1978, aged 93Scottish artistBloomsbury Group
LOCATION:SIZE (cms):  
Tate Galleries, Millbank, Westminster, London SW1P 4RG UK118 x 147  

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