Cover image for The art of Bloomsbury : Roger Fry, Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant
The art of Bloomsbury : Roger Fry, Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant
Shone, Richard.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
London : Tate Gallery ; Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
293 pages : illustrations ; 30 cm
General Note:
"Published by order of the Trustees of the Tate Gallery."

"This catalogue is published to accompany the exhibition at the Tate Gallery, London, 4 November 1999 - 30 January 2000 and touring to The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens, San Marino, California, 4 March - 20 April 2000; Yale Center for British Art, New Haven Connecticut, 20 May - 2 September 2000."
Added Corporate Author:
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Call Number
Material Type
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Item Holds
N6768 .S566 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize

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The word Bloomsbury most often summons the novels of Virginia Woolf and E. M. Forster or images of artists and intellectuals debating the hot parlor topics of 1910s and 1920s London: literary aesthetics, agnosticism, defining truth and goodness, and the ideas of Bertrand Russell, A. N. Whitehead, and G. E. Moore. But the Bloomsbury Group also played a prominent role in the development of modernist painting in Britain. The work of artists Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant, Roger Fry, and their colleagues was often audacious and experimental, and proved to be one of the key influences on twentieth-century British art and design.

This catalogue, published to accompany a major international exhibition of the Bloomsbury painters originating at the Tate Gallery in London and traveling to the Yale Center for British Art and the Huntington Art Gallery, provides a new look at the visual side of a movement that is more generally known for its literary production. It traces the artists' development over several decades and assesses their contribution to modernism. Catalogue entries on two hundred works, all illustrated in color, bring out the chief characteristics of Bloomsbury painting--domestic, contemplative, sensuous, and essentially pacific. These are seen in landscapes, portraits, and still lifes set in London, Sussex, and the South of France, as well as in the abstract painting and applied art that placed these artists at the forefront of the avant-garde before the First World War. Portraits of family and friends--from Virginia Woolf and Maynard Keynes to Aldous Huxley and Edith Sitwell--highlight the cultural and social setting of the group. Essays by leading scholars provide further insights into the works and the changing critical reaction to them, exploring friendships and relationships both within and outside of Bloomsbury, as well as the movement's wider social, economic, and political background.

With beautiful illustrations and a highly accessible text, this catalogue represents a unique look at this fascinating artistic enclave. In addition to the editor, the contributors are James Beechey and Richard Morphet.

Exhibition Schedule:

The Tate Gallery, London

November 4, 1999-January 30, 2000

The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens

San Marino, California

The Yale Center for British Art

New Haven, Connecticut
May 20-September 2, 2000

Author Notes

Richard Shone is an Associate Editor of The Burlington Magazine , and a well-known writer on nineteenth- and twentieth-century art. His books include Bloomsbury Portraits, Alfred Sisley, and Walter Sickert. He has also written extensively on contemporary British artists such as Fiona Rae, Rachel Whiteread, and Damien Hirst.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Two new books correct the impression that the much scrutinized creative enclave known as Bloomsbury is more literary, what with the tremendous influence of Virginia Woolf, E. M. Forster, and Lytton Strachey, than painterly. The paintings and criticism of the visionary art historian Roger Fry, whom Shone credits with galvanizing the group, and the sensuous paintings of Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell were revolutionary and continue to yield fresh revelations for scholars and the public alike. Shone, the author of a number of fine books about British artists, has put together a handsome and uniquely comprehensive volume in connection with a major international exhibition. He and his contributors can't avoid the subject of Bloomsbury's extraordinarily complex personal relationships, which generated its adventurous aesthetic dynamic, but each artist's oeuvre is analyzed in its own right as well. The resulting text is illuminating, and the reproductions, 200 in color, are spectacular. Scenes of domesticity dominate Bloomsbury paintings, even the group's name is derived from the district in London in which they lived. So what could be more natural than an illustrated book about Bloomsbury homes? Todd, a versatile arts writer, makes judicious use of the vast amount of material available--photographs, paintings, diaries, letters, and memoirs--in her graceful chronicle of the stimulating blend of conventional middle-class routines and improvisational bohemianism that turned such London locations as Fitzroy Square, Hogarth House, and Tavistock Square, and the Sussex abodes Monk House and Charleston Farmhouse, into virtual crucibles for creativity. --Donna Seaman

Library Journal Review

Published as a catalog to accompany a traveling exhibition at the Tate Gallery, London, the Huntington Library, San Marino, CA, and The Yale Center for British Art, The Art of Bloomsbury focuses on the artists of this circle, which flourished in England during the first decades of the 20th century. In three scholarly essays, the artists Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant, Clive Bell, and critic Roger Fry are discussed in terms of their relationship to French modernist art and abstraction. Also emphasized is the vision of ritual and ceremony and the dreamlike quality of the Bloomsbury artists' work, which had its roots in the tradition of the 19th-century high Victorian imagination. A catalog of beautiful color illustrations of all art objects in the exhibition is divided up chronologically and thematically, with each section accompanied by a short introductory essay. Highly recommended for all art libraries and academic libraries supporting programs in art. Bloomsbury at Home focuses upon the districts and houses where the artists and writers of the Bloomsbury group chose to live and how these places reflected their ideas on art and life. The Bloomsbury group's evocation of these places is illustrated through excerpts from letters, diaries, memoirs, and personal anecdotes. Physical details of the houses are described, as are the daily details of the lives of these artists. A helpful and succinct glossary of the biographies of all of the members of the Bloomsbury group is included in the front of this volume. Nice photographs and color reproductions of artworks and interiors are included. This is an enjoyable book, and although not very scholarly, it has interesting firsthand accounts of life during this period. Recommended for general art collections.--Sandra Rothenberg, Framingham State Coll. Lib., MA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

The Art of Bloomsbury, a lavish and informative tribute to the work of Fry, Bell, and Grant, is the catalog of a major exhibition currently making its way from London to the US. Compiled by Shone, author of Bloomsbury Portraits (1976) and associate editor of Burlington Magazine, it includes essays by James Beechey, biographer of the critic Clive Bell, and Richard Morphet, who has written on Fry and Bell. The resulting text is judicious in tone, describing the contribution of a group who ultimately are more interesting for their literary and cultural associations, not to mention their intellectual engagement with the Continental avant-garde than for their place in the development of modern English art. The copious illustrations, most in color, are splendid, and everything is thoroughly documented. There is an extensive chronology on Fry, Bell, and Grant, a rather sparse bibliography, and a good index. Though much has been written about various aspects of the Bloomsbury group, this book provides an important reassessment of their connection to the visual arts. An attractive addition to most collections and a useful resource for scholars of English art as well as English literature. W. S. Rodner; Tidewater Community College

Table of Contents

Richard ShoneRichard MorphetJames BeecheyRichard Shone
Forewordp. 7
Acknowledgementsp. 9
The Artists of Bloomsbury: Roger Fry, Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grantp. 11
Image and Theme in Bloomsbury Artp. 23
Defining Modernism: Roger Fry and Clive Bell in the 1920Sp. 39
Cataloguep. 53
Some Early Impressions - Paintings 1892-1911p. 55
The Voyage Out - Paintings 1911-13p. 73
Essays in Biography - Portraits 1910-25p. 93
A Room of One's Own - Still-Life Paintings 1914-19p. 117
Vision and Design - The Omega Workshops: furniture, applied art, paintings, works on paper 1911-18p. 137
Beginning Again - Paintings 1916-20p. 183
Transformations - Paintings post-1920p. 205
Works on Paper and Sculpturep. 243
Photographs and Booksp. 274
Chronologiesp. 275
Bibliographyp. 287
Indexp. 290