This sensitive yet briskly painted portrait of Angelica, daughter of Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, was painted at Charleston in c.1939 and captures a poignant moment of intimacy between mother and daughter.

Angelica was born and raised at Charleston and was thus immersed from a young age in a world with no creative boundaries. Her upbringing, however, was as unique as it was complex, and for the first eighteen years of her life, Angelica believed that her biological father was Clive Bell, Vanessa’s first husband. Much to Angelica’s annoyance, this startling news had little impact of her cordial but detached relationship with Grant and she later reminisced: ‘...my dream of the perfect father – unrealised – possessed me ... My marriage was but a continuation of it.’

In 1942, a few years after this work was painted, Angelica married David Garnett (or ‘Bunny’), a previous lover of Grant’s and a close family friend. Garnett, who was...

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This sensitive yet briskly painted portrait of Angelica, daughter of Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, was painted at Charleston in c.1939 and captures a poignant moment of intimacy between mother and daughter. 

Angelica was born and raised at Charleston and was thus immersed from a young age in a world with no creative boundaries. Her upbringing, however, was as unique as it was complex, and for the first eighteen years of her life, Angelica believed that her biological father was Clive Bell, Vanessa’s first husband. Much to Angelica’s annoyance, this startling news had little impact of her cordial but detached relationship with Grant and she later reminisced: ‘...my dream of the perfect father – unrealised – possessed me ... My marriage was but a continuation of it.’ 

In 1942, a few years after this work was painted, Angelica married David Garnett (or ‘Bunny’), a previous lover of Grant’s and a close family friend. Garnett, who was recently widowed, was a successful writer and together they lived at Hilton Hall in Cambridgeshire which, like Charleston, had become a popular haunt for artists, writers and intellectuals. After twenty-five years of marriage, Angelica and David separated and Angelica moved first to Islington and then to Charleston following Grant’s death in 1978. From 1980 she spent her remaining years in France

In the latter half of her life Angelica turned to writing and in 1984 published her memoir Deceived with Kindness, which describes in vivid detail her struggle to achieve independence from her Bloomsbury associations which she considered both a blessing and a burden. Further publications followed, including The Unspoken Truth: A Quartet of Bloomsbury Stories (2010), a loosely-veiled fictional account of a shy child who grows up surrounded by artists, striving for recognition and acceptance. 

  In the early 1980s Angelica advised on the restoration of Charleston and its interiors, and in 1994 gifted the Charleston Trust over 8,000 artworks by Grant and Bell. The present work remained in the possession of Anne Olivier Bell, wife of Quentin and editor of Virginia Woolf’s diaries, until her death in 2018 and is now being sold by her children to raise funds to support the Charleston Trust.

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500 Years of British Art