Duncan Grant was one of the principal figures in the Bloomsbury Group, a set of writers, artists and intellectuals based in London. Often overshadowed by their unconventional and bohemian lifestyle, the group’s artistic contribution was central to the overhaul of Victorian rigidity and paved the way for modern British art.


Born in Scotland and brought up in India, Grant set up his own studio in Fitzroy Square in 1910, having followed the advice of French painter Simon Bussy to take up painting. In 1913, artist and influential art critic, Roger Fry, founded the Omega Workshops and invited Vanessa Bell and Grant to be creative directors. The Omega Workshops were an experimental design collective, aiming to dissolve the barrier between the fine and decorative arts, bringing them together through boldly patterned rugs, linen, furniture and ceramics.


The present work is atypical of Grant’s mature style and reasonable conjecture, taking into consideration the date inscription, would suggest that the artist begun this...



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Duncan Grant was one of the principal figures in the Bloomsbury Group, a set of writers, artists and intellectuals based in London. Often overshadowed by their unconventional and bohemian lifestyle, the group’s artistic contribution was central to the overhaul of Victorian rigidity and paved the way for modern British art. 


Born in Scotland and brought up in India, Grant set up his own studio in Fitzroy Square in 1910, having followed the advice of French painter Simon Bussy to take up painting. In 1913, artist and influential art critic, Roger Fry, founded the Omega Workshops and invited Vanessa Bell and Grant to be creative directors. The Omega Workshops were an experimental design collective, aiming to dissolve the barrier between the fine and decorative arts, bringing them together through boldly patterned rugs, linen, furniture and ceramics. 


The present work is atypical of Grant’s mature style and reasonable conjecture, taking into consideration the date inscription, would suggest that the artist begun this composition in 1926 and then returned to it in 1970. Taking up the work again in 1970 when Grant was in his mid-80s, this bold still life is characterised by an abstracted approach to formal composition and a decorative treatment of spatial relationships. The influence of Grant’s textile designs and his work at Omega can be felt here despite the gulf of time in between these two seemingly disparate periods in the artist’s career. This further reinforces the possibility that Grant revisited his earlier composition in later life. In part influenced by the later work of Henri Matisse (1869-1954), Grant here considers the canvas surface as a flat plane upon which objects and free-forms are arranged together as a loosely related assemblage. 


In stark contrast to a more academic approach to the genre, Grant can be said to extract the focus of his study from the background upon which these objects rest. The effect being one of playful disorientation for the viewer as all strict attention to perspective is diminished. While the fruit and bowl retain their sense of form, reinforced by tonal contrasts and simplified shadowing, the table upon which they sit in rendered two dimensional, as if seen from above. The resultant composition is a still life that defies a more logical structure. Grant has remained faithful to his broader approach to design, reducing all form to the most essential of characteristics.

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500 Years of British Art