This atmospheric study, painted during the Second World War, has recently been identified as an interior view of the threshing barn at Charleston.

Duncan Grant, Vanessa Bell and David Garnett first discovered Charleston during the First World War when Grant and Garnett, both conscientious objectors, were looking for farm work. They were immediately taken by the rustic farmhouse and over the following decades transformed the house into an eclectic artistic abode famed for its bold interior decoration. These inter-war years, described by Quentin Bell as ‘the golden age of Charleston’, came to abrupt end with the death of Julian (son of Vanessa and Clive Bell) in 1937. Two later years later war broke out again and from this moment on, Grant and Bell lived permanently at Charleston.

During the Second World War, Grant turned his attention to painting still-life and interior views in and around Charleston. The present work is one such example and was painted in the...

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This atmospheric study, painted during the Second World War, has recently been identified as an interior view of the threshing barn at Charleston.

Duncan Grant, Vanessa Bell and David Garnett first discovered Charleston during the First World War when Grant and Garnett, both conscientious objectors, were looking for farm work. They were immediately taken by the rustic farmhouse and over the following decades transformed the house into an eclectic artistic abode famed for its bold interior decoration. These inter-war years, described by Quentin Bell as ‘the golden age of Charleston’, came to abrupt end with the death of Julian (son of Vanessa and Clive Bell) in 1937. Two later years later war broke out again and from this moment on, Grant and Bell lived permanently at Charleston.

During the Second World War, Grant turned his attention to painting still-life and interior views in and around Charleston. The present work is one such example and was painted in the winter of 1942. It shows an interior view of the threshing barn which sits adjacent to the farmhouse. The open barn door in the distance originally lead to the former farmyard which has now been replaced by an industrial milking parlour. The construction of the barn is highly distinctive and is based on a medieval prototype. Its L-shape with two connecting chambers is a special characteristic of barns in this part of Sussex. 

The present work is one of the largest paintings undertaken by Grant at this date and allows a fascinating glimpse into life at Charleston during the wartime years.

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500 Years of British Art