Duncan Grant: A Biography | Frances Spalding



‘Marvellous…Spalding’s skill is to sketch out the intricate emotional web against the bright bold untouchable figure of the artist… Her achievement is to let that sense of a man living with his craft shine through on every page: The result is an exceptionally honest and warm portrait.’

Financial Times

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The life of the painter and designer Duncan Grant (1885-1978) spanned great changes in society and art, from Edwardian Britain to the 1970’s, from Alama-Tadema to Gilbert and George. As an artist he experimented boldly before 1914, and helped break  the mould of Edwardian painting, but he was also imbued with a love of the past, translating many traditions into modern terms. Using unpublished letters and diaries, Frances Spalding follows him from Childhood in India, Scotland and London through to student days in London and Paris, to his involvement with the Bloomsbury Group, the Omega workshops and his growing fame.

At each stage, the excitement of Grant’s artistic creativity is interwoven with his emotional and sexual life, the passions for men that ran alongside his enduring relationship with Vanessa Bell. And although we feel the extraordinary collective energy of the milieu in which Grant lived and worked, the abiding impression if of a wayward, gentle, slightly detached personality whose art and life were bound together by the intense delight and curiosity with which he viewed the world.


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