Vanessa Bell

From Academic Kids

For the American actress, see Vanessa Bell Calloway.

Vanessa Bell (1879-1961) was an English painter and interior designer and a member of the Bloomsbury group.

She was born Vanessa Stephen, a daughter of Sir Leslie Stephen and the elder sister of Virginia, who later became better known as the novelist, Virginia Woolf. After the deaths of their parents, the sisters lived in the Bloomsbury district of London, where they came into contact with those who would become their set. Vanessa studied art under Sir Arthur Cope and, after his death, at the Royal Academy Schools.

In 1907 she married within the Bloomsbury Group with Clive Bell. They had two sons early in their marriage, but by the First World War both Vanessa and Clive had other partners. Vanessa embarked on an affair on with the bisexual painter Duncan Grant, with whom she had a daughter, Angelica, who was later to marry his erstwhile lover David Garnett.

Vanessa, Duncan and Duncan's lover David Garnett moved to the Sussex countryside shortly before the outbreak of the war, a few years later ending up in Charleston, while Duncan and David (as conscientious objectors) had to work on the land to escape being called under arms.

Like Duncan Grant, Vanessa contributed to the Omega Workshops established by Roger Fry. After the First World War, she became a member of the London Group.

Vanessa's eldest son Julian died in the Spanish Civil War in 1937.

Throughout her life her relationship with Clive Bell remained amicable, while she formed primarily an artistic tandem with Duncan Grant, painting in the same (or adjacent) studio('s), commenting each other's works.

Bell was played by Miranda Richardson in the Academy Award winning 2002 film The Hours and by Janet McTeer in Carrington.


Sketches in Pen and Ink, Vanessa Bell

A Passionate Apprentince: the early journals, Virginia Woolf

A Moment's Liberty, Virginia Woolf

A Very Close Conspiracy: Vanessa Bell and Virginia Woolf, Jane Dunn

Vanessa Bell, Frances Spalding

Duncan Grant, Frances Spalding

Deceived with Kindness: a Bloomsbury Childhood, Angelica Garnett

Elders and Betters, Quentin Bell

Charleston, Quentin Bell and Virginia Nicholson

Virginia Woolf, Hermione Lee


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