Renowned Art
Duncan Grant



Duncan James Corrowr Grant (21 January 1885 - 8 May 1978) was a Scottish painter and member of the Bloomsbury Group.

He is a cousin of John Grant, Lord Huntingtower, being a grandson of the second Sir John Peter Grant.

Grant was born in Rothiemurchus near Inverness, Scotland and studied art at the Slade School and in Italy and Paris. He was a cousin (and for some time a lover) of Lytton Strachey: through the Stracheys Duncan was introduced to the Bloomsbury Group, where Maynard Keynes became one of his lovers.

Grant is often best-known for his painting in the wake of French post-impressionist exhibitions mounted in London in 1910. After Roger Fry founded the Omega workshops in 1913, Grant became co-director with Vanessa Bell. Although Grant had been an active homosexual, his relationship with Vanessa Bell blossomed and he lived with her and her two sons by her husband Clive Bell from before the start of the First World War. In 1916 they moved to the house named Charleston near Firle in Sussex. Duncan and Vanessa painted in Charleston and decorated the house itself with their paintings, and Clive stayed with them for long periods fairly often -- sometimes accompanied by his own mistress, Mary Hutchinson.

Although it is generally assumed that Duncan's sexual relations with Vanessa ended in the months before their daughter Angelica was born (Christmas, 1918), they continued to live together until Vanessa's death in 1961, with Duncan staying on at Charleston until shortly before his own death in 1978.

Living with Vanessa was apparently no impediment to Duncan's relationships with men, either before or after Angelica was born. (Angelica grew up believing that Clive Bell was her father; she bore his surname and his behaviour toward her never indicated otherwise). Duncan and Vanessa had an open relationship, although she herself apparently never took advantage of this after settling down with him and giving birth to their daughter. He was the great love of her life and she understood that if she was to keep him at Charleston with her she would have to allow him this freedom. The pain this decision cost her is related in Angelica's memoir, Deceived With Kindness. Duncan, in contrast, had many purely physical affairs and several serious relationships with other men such as George Bergen.

Grant worked with, and was influenced by, another member of the group, Roger Fry, who was also a former lover of Vanessa's. As well as painting landscapes and portraits, Fry designed textiles and ceramics.

In Grant's later years, the poet Paul Roche, whom he had known since 1946, went to considerable effort in looking after him. Grant eventually died in Roche's home in 1978.

Duncan Grant is buried beside Vanessa Bell in the churchyard of St. Peter's Church, West Firle, East Sussex.


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