Duncan Grant (1885-1978)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more A Highly Important Collection of Works by Bloomsbury Artists from a Private North American Collection The works by Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant for sale here are mostly from a single private collection and constitute the most important group of their works ever to be offered at auction. The majority came directly from the artists' estates and had hardly been seen until the 1970s and 1980s, during which period the London-based dealer Anthony d'Offay, in a handful of remarkable exhibitions in London and New York, presented them to the public, many for the first time. Two shows in particular appear in the works' provenances - The Omega Workshops and British Modernist Art 1905-1930. The former, long in the planning, was held at Anthony d'Offay's spacious premises at 23 Dering Street and his smaller gallery at 9 Dering Street, in early 1984; the latter, organised for Hirschl & Adler, New York, was shown in the winter of 1987-88 and concentrated on the Camden Town Group, Vorticism and Bloomsbury. While the London exhibition contained some important loans, collectors availed themselves of many works on sale for the first time. In New York, paintings, designs, furniture and Omega objects found new homes across the Atlantic. It is not inappropriate here to acknowledge Anthony d'Offay's intervention in the unfolding rediscovery in the 1970s and 1980s of early twentieth-century British art. To be sure, other dealers made important contributions but Anthony d'Offay's went wider and deeper. The achievements of Epstein, Gill and Gaudier-Brzeska, the Vorticists, Bloomsbury, Spencer Gore and Gwen John - these and others were reclaimed for the full history of the period, beautifully presented and catalogued. Those scholars researching and writing about these artists will not easily forget the thrill of seeing outstanding works, in the upstairs quarters at 9 Dering Street or in the exhibitions below, which they had thought lost or were known to them only from old photographs. He helped form several discriminating private collections in Britain and abroad; the fruits of one of the finest of these are offered here today. The estates of Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant were a major challenge. Many of their early works had been stored in less than ideal conditions at Charleston, the artists' Sussex home. A decade before her death, Vanessa Bell had compiled an inventory of all works in the house by her and Grant, still a valuable source of information. Later, Grant had made valiant attempts, aided at various moments, by Sarah Whitfield, Simon Watney and the present writer, to order and catalogue the huge accumulations of paintings and works on paper, stretching back, in Grant's case, for over seventy years. What was needed was a ruthlessly professional approach and a campaign of cleaning, restoration and re-presentation. Anthony d'Offay did this; the revealing exhibitions began. He also missed few opportunities to acquire the Bloomsbury painters' work at auction or from private collectors or their heirs, including Lady Ottoline Morrell, Adrian Stephen, David Garnett and Quentin and Olivier Bell. It was in this way that many of the most striking and innovative works by Grant and Bell became known for the first time. These included their non-figurative paintings and abstract designs from c. 1912-16, Bell's canonical Studland Beach (1912 ;Tate), Grant's Head of Eve (1913; Tate) and portraits of Virginia Woolf, Lytton Strachey, E.M. Forster and others in the artists' circle. But for many, it was the refreshed showing of their contributions to the Omega Workshops and further decorative projects that enlarged the picture of their achievements. This component of their output adds glow and invention to the present collection. We are very grateful to Richard Shone for preparing this introduction and the catalogue entries for lots 217-225.
Duncan Grant (1885-1978)

Design for an Embroidered Panel

Duncan Grant (1885-1978)
Design for an Embroidered Panel
signed and inscribed 'D Grant Design for Embroidered Panel' (along the left margin)
oil on two sheets of paper, laid on panel
60 x 18 in. (152.4 x 45.7 cm.)
Painted circa 1932-34.
The artist's estate, until 1987.
with Meredith Long & Co., Texas, 1989.
with Anthony d'Offay Gallery, London, where purchased by the present owner.
Liverpool, Bluecoat Gallery, Duncan Grant, Designer, February 1980, no. 56: this exhibition travelled to Brighton, Museum and Art Gallery.
New York, Hirschl and Adler, British Modernist Art 1905-1930, November 1987 - January 1988, no. 135.
Special notice

Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.
VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 20% on the buyer's premium.

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André Zlattinger
André Zlattinger

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Lot Essay

Some of Grant's earliest known applied designs were for embroidered or cross-stitch firescreens and chair backs and date to 1912 - 13, in preparation for the opening of the Omega Workshops in July 1913. It was these designs (and others by Vanessa Bell and Roger Fry) that Paul Nash later praised as being the starting point 'of the modern movement in textile design'.

The closure of the Omega in 1919 did not put a stop to this particular aspect of Grant's (and Bell's) output as designers. Various friends carried out the designs in wool or silk but the principal executant was the painter's mother, Ethel Grant, a willing and expert needlewoman. The present exuberant design, a tall free-standing panel, was carried out by Ethel Grant and is today in Grant's Charleston studio. Usually dated to circa 1926, it is probably from the early 1930s when the flowers and butterflies, interlaced with generic leaf shapes, became a hallmark of Grant's decorative motifs.

We are very grateful to Richard Shone for preparing the catalogue entries for lots 217-225.

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