VANESSA BELL (1879-1961)
VANESSA BELL (1879-1961)
VANESSA BELL (1879-1961)
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Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more
VANESSA BELL (1879-1961)

Autumn Bouquet

VANESSA BELL (1879-1961)
Autumn Bouquet
signed 'V Bell' (upper right)
oil on board laid on panel
28 ¾ x 20 3/8 in. (73 x 51.7 cm.)
Painted in 1912.
The artist.
Anglelica Garnett, 1961.
with Anthony d'Offay, London, by 1971.
Purchased by the present owner at the 2006 exhibition.
Exhibition catalogue, Artists of Bloomsbury: Paintings, Drawings and Watercolours, Rye, Rye Art Gallery, 1967, n.p., no. 23, illustrated.
Plymouth, Arts Council of Great Britian, Vanessa Bell: A Memorial Exhibition, April - May 1964, no. 22: this exhibition travelled to Bolton, Museum and Art Gallery, May 1964; Leeds, City Art Gallery, June 1964; Norwich, Castle Museum and Art Gallery, July 1964; and Brighton, Art Gallery, August 1964.
Rye, Rye Art Gallery, Artists of Bloomsbury: Paintings, Drawings and Watercolours, June - August 1967, no. 23.
Houston, Meredith Long & Company, Still Life, 2006.
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. This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.

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Pippa Jacomb
Pippa Jacomb Head of Day Sale

Lot Essay

One of the very earliest extant paintings by Vanessa Bell is a carefully composed, very delicate still life, Iceland Poppies, 1908 (Charleston Trust). The stylish range of colour is Whistlerian but the composition is modern. The next flowerpiece we encounter in Bell’s oeuvre is the present, highly contrasting work. Of still lifes in between these two paintings we know of only one, for a number of early paintings by Bell were destroyed in her studio during the London Blitz. The exception is Apples, 46 Gordon Square of circa 1908-09, (Charleston Trust) which shares elements of Camden Town still lifes, especially of Spencer Gore, but is otherwise cautious in approach and innocent of contemporary French art.

Then came the Grafton Galleries’ First Post-Impressionist Exhibition in late 1910. Luckily, unlike some of her contemporaries, Bell’s own work was not suddenly capsized by the example of Matisse and Picasso; she carefully assimilated what she needed in terms of colour and simplified composition. This lead to her superb Studland Beach, 1911 (Tate, London). By late summer 1912 she had been invited to exhibit at the Grafton Galleries’ Second Post-Impressionist Exhibition and from September to October there exists a substantial number of still lifes, landscapes and figures in interiors. Those weeks were spent at Asheham House in the South Downs where Bell was surrounded by her family and a changing cast of friends such as Frederick Etchells and his sister Jessie who, like Bell, had both been asked to show at the Grafton.

Two of Bell’s four exhibited works were painted at Asheham House – a landscape and a flowerpiece. The latter, called Nosegay, was illustrated in the Grafton catalogue, a welcome record of a painting long since lost. But its general composition is very close to the present work, which may have just preceded it. In the second week of September the weather turned cold and so Bell and Grant both painted still lifes of flowers indoors. Even so, there is an evocative photograph of the two artists looking at a vase of flowers set on a bamboo table on the terrace outside the house (see R. Shone, Bloomsbury Portraits, London, 1993, p. 78, fig. 60).

Nosegay shows Bell’s tendency at this time to cube her shapes and draw them towards a general geometric conception. Such simplification is apparent in the present work - a bunch of mixed late summer flowers in a glass vase or jar. Already Bell’s palette is brightening and she is soon to adopt in early 1913 a brilliant and exotic range of 'Post-Impressionist' colour which we can see beginning to bloom in the present painting.

We are very grateful to Richard Shone for preparing this catalogue entry.

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