Duncan Grant

Posted on November 11, 2010


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Scottish artist Duncan Grant, though primarily gay, spent much of his adult life with fellow artist Vanessa Stephen Bell, sister of Virginia Woolf and wife of art critic Clive Bell.

Grant was introduced to the Bloomsbury Group via his cousin Lytton Strachey, with whom he had a brief relationship. In 1908, he and economist John Maynard Keynes became lovers, traveling to Italy, Greece and Turkey in a trip that would have a great impact on his art. In 1913, he became co-director of the Omega Workshops – an ill-fated but influential artists cooperative producing everyday objects, furniture and eventually clothes that closed down in 1919 – with Roger Fry and Vanessa Bell.

His relationship with Vanessa Bell quickly developed into a romantic relationship, albeit an open one, and Grant moved with his current lover David Garnett to Charleston Farmhouse in Sussex, which Vanessa Bell had found for them. The three lived together for a time with Vanessa Bell’s two sons, with her husband Clive Bell visiting often. Garnett eventually moved out, and in 1918 Bell and Grant had a daughter, Angelica Bell, who was treated as if she were the daughter of Clive Bell (she was 17 when she was told that Grant was her real father).

The complicated interlinked relationships in the Grant-Bell family took a particularly strange turn when in 1942 Angelica Bell married David Garnett, her father’s former lover and the two had four daughters before separating.

Grant died in 1978, aged 93, some 17 years after the death of Vanessa Bell.

Duncan Grant has a page on Wikipedia, here.