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Francis and Vanessa

Peter Campbell

15 March 1984
Francis Bacon 
by Michel Leiris, translated by John Weightman.
Phaidon, 271 pp., £50, September 1983, 0 7148 2218 3
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Vanessa​ Bell 
by Frances Spalding.
Weidenfeld, 399 pp., £12.95, August 1983, 0 297 78162 6
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The Omega Workshops 
by Judith Collins.
Secker, 310 pp., £15.95, January 1984, 0 436 10562 4
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The Omega Workshops 1913-1919: Decorative Arts of Bloomsbury 
Crafts Council, 96 pp., £6.95, March 1984, 0 903798 72 7Show More
The Omega Workshops: Alliance and Enmity in English Art 1911-1920 
Anthony d’Offay Gallery, 80 pp., £4.95, February 1984, 0 947564 00 4Show More
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... the Continental Post-Impressionist stock is under scrutiny; and the Omega style is busting out all over. Its ‘vigorous vegetable growth’ (Frances Partridge’s description of Duncan Grant’s and VanessaBell’s decorations at Charleston) has been displayed and catalogued at the Crafts Council and Anthony d’Offay galleries. Judith Collins’s Omega Workshops gives the history, while Frances ...
2 December 1993
Selected Letters of Vanessa​ Bell 
edited by Regina Marler, introduced by Quentin Bell.
Bloomsbury, 593 pp., £25, November 1993, 0 7475 1550 6
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... Regina Marler puts it in her excellent biographical introduction, a rather different fate has befallen its visual artists. They are understood only too well, and patronised with faint praise. Clive Bell’s ‘Significant Form’ is an aesthetic curiosity, Roger Fry’s influence as a theorist long ago terminated. The pictures and decorative work of the Bloomsbury English Modernists – Bell, Fry ...
8 September 1994
Early Modernism: Literature, Music and Painting in Europe 1900-1916 
by Christopher Butler.
Oxford, 318 pp., £27.50, April 1994, 0 19 811746 9
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... could use them for his collages. Thus Blooms-bury played its part. In fact, as a result of this visit, Bloomsbury moved momentarily right into the forefront of early Modernism. Both Duncan Grant and VanessaBell immediately began making abstract collages, or ‘arrangements’ as they called them, using fabrics and papiers collés. Picasso himself, it should be noted, did not make the same move to ...

At the NPG

Jean McNicol: ‘Virginia Woolf’

10 September 2014
... akin to a portrait’ by looking at ‘telling ingredients in each period of her life’, is a blown-up photograph of the exposed side wall of the house. Some of the panels that Woolf’s sister, VanessaBell, and Duncan Grant had painted for the third-floor drawing room are, as Virginia told them, ‘still pendant’. ‘I cd just see a piece of my studio wall standing: otherwise rubble where I ...

Unreal Food Uneaten

Julian Bell: Sitting for Vanessa

13 April 2000
The Art of Bloomsbury 
edited by Richard Shone.
Tate Gallery, 388 pp., £35, November 1999, 1 85437 296 3
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First Friends 
by Ronald Blythe.
Viking, 157 pp., £25, October 1999, 0 670 88613 0
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Bloomsbury in France 
by Mary Ann Caws and Sarah Bird Wright.
Oxford, 430 pp., £25, December 1999, 0 19 511752 2
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... My grandmother was the painter VanessaBell. She died aged 81 when I was eight. I loved my grandmother, but 39 years later I have few memories of her. If, that is, a ‘memory’ is some kind of private mental property. The picture I have of ...

All This Love Business

Jean McNicol: Vanessa​ and Julian Bell

24 January 2013
Julian BellFrom Bloomsbury to the Spanish Civil War 
by Peter Stansky and William Abrahams.
Stanford, 314 pp., £38.95, 0 8047 7413 7
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... Julian Bell returned briefly to England in the spring of 1937. He was 29; he had been teaching in China for 18 months and was now determined to fight in Spain. Everyone knew this was his plan, or rather everyone ...

Echoes

Tom Phillips

2 April 1981
English Art and Modernism 1900-1939 
by Charles Harrison.
Allen Lane, 416 pp., £20, February 1981, 0 7139 0792 4
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... these pages’) is the classical theory of tragedy: Mr Harrison has a sure touch in finding those defects and spots of nature which grow within a man marked for decline. Artists such as Duncan Grant, VanessaBell, John Piper and Graham Sutherland depart from his text, and while it is tempting to quote the manner of their going it is more illuminating to give a sample of the way in which he addresses ...

Why we have them I can’t think

Rosemary Hill: ‘Mrs Woolf and the Servants’

16 August 2007
Mrs Woolf and the Servants: The Hidden Heart of Domestic Service 
by Alison Light.
Fig Tree, 376 pp., £20, August 2007, 978 0 670 86717 2
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... morality was pretty much confined to the four floors in between. The sisters were well aware of the inconsistencies, but at a loss to know what to do. ‘The more I think of it,’ the newly married VanessaBell wrote, ‘the more it seems to me absurd that we should have … 5 servants to look after a young & able-bodied couple & a baby.’ ‘Why we have them I can’t think,’ Virginia lamented ...
31 August 1989
Carrington: A Life of Dora Carrington 1893-1932 
by Gretchen Gerzina.
Murray, 342 pp., £18.95, June 1989, 0 7195 4688 5
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Lydia and Maynard: Letters between Lydia Lopokova and John Maynard Keynes 
edited by Polly Hill and Richard Keynes.
Deutsch, 367 pp., £17.95, September 1989, 0 233 98283 3
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Mazo de la Roche: The Hidden Life 
by Joan Givner.
Oxford, 273 pp., £18, July 1989, 0 19 540705 9
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Vera Brittain and Winifred Holtby: A Working Partnership 
by Jean Kennard.
University Press of New England, 224 pp., £24, July 1989, 0 87451 474 6
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Dangerous by Degrees: Women at Oxford and the Somerville College Novelists 
by Susan Leonardi.
Rutgers, 254 pp., $33, May 1989, 0 8135 1366 9
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The Selected Letters of Somerville and Ross 
edited by Gifford Lewis.
Faber, 308 pp., £14.99, July 1989, 0 571 15348 8
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... have lived in Hampstead and gone to Robert Bevan’s Sundays, or tramped with Eleanor Farjeon to Edward Thomas’s cottage. As it was, she found herself in Bloomsbury. Even if they were, as Quentin Bell called them, ‘as amorphous as friends can be’, they were nearly all highly literate, and judged accordingly. They treated her as a kind of peg-top doll, a sailor doll with blue eyes, ‘a thought ...

Wild Hearts

Peter Wollen

6 April 1995
Virginia Woolf 
by James King.
Hamish Hamilton, 699 pp., £25, September 1994, 0 241 13063 8
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... audience listened in a rapt silence and at the end I had tears in my eyes.’ Among the Bloomsbury ‘items’ commissioned by Kenneth and Jane Clark was a grand Wedgwood dinner service created by VanessaBell and Duncan Grant in 1935. The two artists chose to paint the 48 plates (out of 140 pieces) with a series of portraits of great women, including VanessaBell and Virginia Woolf themselves. ‘It ...

At Dulwich

Alice Spawls: Vanessa Bell

17 May 2017
... It​ seems to be a foregone conclusion that VanessaBell isn’t much good. There are those devoted types, of course, for whom the sensibility of her paintings, as well as their subjects, makes them windows into a beloved world. But perhaps they are seeing ...

At Tate Britain (2)

Rosemary Hill: Kenneth Clark

2 July 2014
... arguably too long in what he himself called the ‘virtuous fog’ of Bloomsbury, represented here by an Omega dinner service intended to celebrate famous women, badly painted in lugubrious hues by VanessaBell and Duncan Grant. The essence of what he believed, that art is ‘a long word which stretches from millinery to religion’, is captured in an unfinished portrait of Marie Countess of Schaumburg ...

At Dulwich Picture Gallery

Eleanor Birne: ‘A Crisis of Brilliance’

12 September 2013
... them during the day, but was always keen to get back to his beloved Cookham in time for tea (for him there was almost certainly no Friday Club – a weekly soirée of painters brought together by VanessaBell). Gertler’s painting of Carrington from 1912, Portrait of a Girl in a Blue Jersey, doesn’t suggest much of the charisma she must have had. Acres of blue jersey against a blue sky, with ...

No Clapping

Rosemary Hill: The Bloomsbury Memoir Club

16 July 2014
The Bloomsbury Group Memoir Club 
by S.P. Rosenbaum, edited by James Haule.
Palgrave, 203 pp., £20, January 2014, 978 1 137 36035 9
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... to Canada and nothing to Forster, who was disappointed. The domestic and sexual permutations would have caused no consternation among listeners who included Virginia and Leonard Woolf and Clive Bell. Nor, perhaps, would Forster’s own discomfort with the question of Sex, which played a large, complicated part in his own life: ‘You work it out,’ his essay goes on: ‘I can’t so well ...
7 November 1985
... years ago, Strachey’s books were not in paperback and Virginia Woolf was not the feminist idol she has since become. The reputation of E.M. Forster was in decline. The paintings of Duncan Grant and VanessaBell were not privately collected and had been demoted to the cellars of many public galleries. The art criticism of Roger Fry and Clive Bell was no longer considered significant, and few people knew ...

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