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duncan grant
(1885-1978)



Duncan Grant
The Tub c. 1913

Biography:

  • British painter.
  • Born 1885 in Inverness.
  • Died 1978 in Aldermaston.

duncan grant Duncan Grant (full name Duncan James Corrowr Grant) was born in Inverness, Scotland in 1885. He was brought up until the age of nine in India and Burma where his father was posted as an army officer. He returned to England in 1894 to attend school. While at St Paul's school, London, he was brought up by his uncle and aunt Sir Richard and Lady Strachey (the parents of Lytton Strachey. He was encouraged by his art teacher and also his aunt, who organised private drawing lessons for him. Eventually, he was allowed to follow his desire to become an artist, rather than joining the army as his father wished, and he attended Westminster School of Art in 1902.

Grant's cousins the Stracheys, with whom he had spent summer holidays as a schoolboy, played an important part in his life during this period. He spent the summer of 1905 with Lytton Strachey, and around the same time Pippa Strachey took Duncan to a meeting of the Friday Club where he first met the artists in the Bloomsbury group.

At the beginning of 1906 he went to Paris, taking with him a letter of introduction from the French artist Simon Bussy and 100 from an aunt sympathetic to Grant's artistic interests. He rented an attic room in a cheap hotel and enrolled at Jacques Emile Blanche's new art school, La Palette. While in Paris he copied paintings in the Louvre.

During his year in Paris, Grant developed a number of other important connections. He met the British artists Wyndham Lewis, Henry Lamb and Augustus John, and made friends with the American writer Gertrude Stein. He was also visited by the newly married Vanessa Bell and her husband Clive, along with Vanessa's sister Virginia Woolf, and their brother Adrian.

Returning to London, Duncan Grant formed relationships over the next few years that were to affect the course of his life and work. In 1908, he became the lover of John Maynard Keynes, a university friend of his cousin Lytton Strachey. They travelled to Italy, Greece, and Turkey, seeing much that would influence Grant's artistic style.

In 1909 he moved to 21 Fitzroy Square and became a regular visitor at Virginia and Adrian Stephen's Thursday evening gatherings which formed the nucleus of the Bloomsbury Group. He also became a co-director of the Omega Workshops in 1913, along with Roger Fry and Vanessa Bell. All of them shared an interest in the decorative arts as well painting on canvas.

In 1911 he worked on his first major commission, collaborating with other artists on a series of murals for the refectory of what is now South Bank University. The art critic of The Times thought that his murals Bathing and Football could have a "degenerative influence on the children of the working classes" - though both panels are now in the Tate Gallery.

From 1914 Duncan lived and worked with Vanessa Bell, moving to Charleston with her and his lover David 'Bunny' Garnett. Vanessa was married to Clive Bell, but he had moved on to an affair with someone else and only visited at weekends. Despite Duncan Grant's homosexuality, he and Vanessa remained together for nearly fifty years, and they had a daughter Angelica who was born in 1918. Angelica was led to believe that her father was Clive Bell, and she only discovered the truth as an adult.

Like most of the members of the Bloomsbury group, Grant was a pacifist. In order to be exempted from military service during World War I, he and David Garnett moved to Wissett in the Suffolk countryside to become farm labourers. Although they were at first refused exemption by a tribunal, they appealed and were eventually recognised as conscientious objectors.

He had his first one-man exhibition in 1920 and his work was exhibited regularly until the end of his life. Grant and Bell were in great demand to paint murals and decorations. Duncan Grant enjoyed a reputation as one of the most important British Artists until the late 1930s, after which period the influence of pre-war Bloomsbury was eclipsed by the second world war.

Vanessa and Grant also travelled widely in Europe and spent much of their time living in Cassis in the South of France. After Vanessa Bell's death in 1961 he continued painting, dividing his time between Charleston and London and also travelling to Turkey, Morocco and France. He was a friend of the poet Paul Roche and taught his daughter the actress and painter Mitey Roche. He died of pneumonia at Aldermaston in 1978.


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Gallery:


duncan grant opussyquinusque, the cat c.1932  the charleston trust duncan grant portrait of vanessa bell c.1915  the charleston trust duncan grant angelica as ellen terry in freshwater 1935  the charleston trust duncan grant the tub c.1913 duncan grant carpet design
duncan grant bathing duncan grant portrait of a woman (1927) duncan grant pamela fry duncan grant virginia woolf duncan grant mantlepiece


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Duncan Grant
Still Life - The Dinner Table
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Duncan Grant Juggler and Tightrope Walker Art Print
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Opussyquinsque
Official Art Print



Duncan Grant Juggler and Tightrope Walker Art Print
Duncan Grant
Juggler and Tightrope Walker
Official Art Print



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Duncan Grant
Still Life - The Dinner Table
Official Postcard



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Fairground at Henley Regatta
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Fishing Boats in the Mediterranean
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Tidmarsh Mill
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Lytton Strachey
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