Lawrences Auctioneers: The blossoming of the Bloomsbury Group

The renown of The Bloomsbury Group arises principally from the versatility of those who worked within it: the boisterous talents of Roger Fry, Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant, Dora Carrington, Henry Lamb, Lytton Strachey and many others brought literary skills, design styles, inventive artistic technique and skilful compositional motifs to their work.

They laboured together in a form of brittle harmony that produced complex relationships within and outwith the Group and there were numerous inevitable disagreements woven into joyously productive years that have come to define the Group’s distinctive but chaotic legacy. At its heart, there lay a delight in the sensuous artistic temptations to be found in the everyday objects that filled the accommodation and the everyday lives of the group’s members. This quotidian inspiration could so easily have become domestically trivial. However, a bold joie de vivre introduced themes of abstraction, fantasy and exuberant design and all these were imbued with rich colour, a lavish abandonment of strict rules and a cavalier attitude to `academic` technique. In truth, the Group aligns more closely with the Fauvist movement in France than with any comparable artistic union in Britain from 1910 onwards. At a time of upheaval in the post-Edwardian era that brought a terrible War as well as all the attendant political, social and economic upheaval, the breezy approachability of The Bloomsbury Group deserved to be just the tonic that it proved to deliver.

The Group excelled in finding something poetic, something eyecatching, something memorable in the humdrum routine of life. A beautiful still life painting caught bidders’ eyes at Lawrences Crewkerne on July 10th. It had been painted in 1929 by Duncan Grant (1885-1978) and depicts a cluttered mantelpiece with a lidded urn, books and a clock (or jardiniere) alongside. This picture was appealingly early in date (Grant worked tirelessly for another half century after he had completed this work); it had been exhibited at the London Artists’ Association; it had been owned by the writer and keen Grant collector Sir Hugh Walpole (1884- 1941); and it was sold by his executors at the prestigious Leicester Galleries in London during the period of almost reckless hedonism after VE day in May 1945. In addition, it was appearing on the market for the first time in over 75 years. Measuring 32 x 42cm, its modest scale belied an irresistible allure. It caught browsers’ eye from across a crowded saleroom and its numerous blends of brilliance helped it to a price of £11,250.

Lawrences are welcoming consignments for their Autumn Fine Art sales to include:
Silver | Vertu | Pictures | 19th/20th Century Design | Ceramics | Oriental Works of Art | Jewellery |Watches | Furniture | Clocks | Rugs | Militaria | Coins | Medals | Collectors | Sporting | Textiles |Wine | Spirits | Books | Maps | Manuscripts | Photography

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