Friday, June 11, 2010

vanessa bell


The elder sister of Virginia Woolf, the daughter of the prominent Victorian writer Sir Leslie Stephen, Vanessa Bell was a well-known painter and designer of the early twentith century. She was a central figure of a group of writers and artists known as the Bloomsbury. When she was seventeen, Vanessa began to take drawing classes. She entered the painting school of Royal Academy Schools in 1901.

In 1907, she married Clive Bell, a poet and an art critic who was also a member of the Bloomsbury group. Vanessa first had a love affair with the artist and critic Roger Fry, and later fell in love forever with the talented artist Duncan Grant. Both of these men were also prominent members of the Bloomsbury circle and had a substantial influence on Vanessa's attitude and on her art. Vanessa had three children, Julian and Quentin Bell, and Angeliclia, the daughter by Duncan.

Vanessa was very disappointed and discouraged in her early career as an artist, during which she exhibited several of her paintings at the New English Art Club and other venues. In addition to the income that she earned from the sale of few paintings, she provided illustrations to many books written by Virgina Woolf and decorated furniture and artifacts for the Omega market. She reached the height of her career a several years after Roger Fry's First Post-Impressionist Exhibition in 1910, during which she became influenced by French artists like Cezzane and Matisse. Vanessa often painted together with Grant. Therefore, several of their paintings contain the same theme.

In addition to her artistic talent, Vanessa was a good writer, who frequently wrote letters to her sister and other members of Bloomsbury. Even Virginia once wrote to Vanessa saying, "You have a touch in letter writing that is beyond me.

Although she was still married to Clive Bell, Vanessa lived separately with Duncan and her children at a farmhouse called Charelston. She lived happily there until her death in 1961 due to a heart failure.

Iceland Poppies, 1909


Caws, Mary Ann. Women of Bloomsbury. London: Routledge, 1990

Spalding, Frances. Vanessa Bell. London: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1985

Naylor, Gillian., Ed. Bloomsbury: The Artists, Authors and Designers By Themselves. Great Britian: Octopus Group/Amazon, 1990

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