In England on this date 100 years ago, July 8th, 1913,…

…The Omega Workshops open their doors. Using money inherited from a Quaker uncle, painter and critic Roger Fry, 46, along with his Bloomsbury painter friends, Vanessa Bell, 34, and Duncan Grant, 28, produce textiles, ceramics, home furnishings—a whole range of art and decoration, for sale at 33 Fitzroy Square.

#33 Fitzroy Square, home of the Omega Workshops

#33 Fitzroy Square, home of the Omega Workshops

A few doors down from the house Vanessa’s sister, Virginia Woolf, 31, had shared with their brother, it is also convenient walking distance from where Vanessa and her husband, art critic Clive, 31, live with their two children.

Planning the opening celebration, Vanessa writes to Roger:  “We should get all our disreputable and…aristocratic friends to come, and after dinner we should repair to Fitzroy Square where there should be decorated furniture, painted walls, etc. There we should all get drunk and dance and kiss, orders would flow in and the aristocrats would feel they were really in the thick of things.” As they work together on this new art project, Vanessa is ending her affair with Roger, switching her attentions to fellow-painter Duncan, openly gay.

Invitation to Omega Workshops opening

Invitation to Omega Workshops opening

Over the six years the workshops are in business, their customers include the other members of the Bloomsbury group—Virginia’s husband Leonard, 32, writer and critic Lytton Strachey, 33, and economist John Maynard Keynes, 30—as well as Irish poet William Butler Yeats, 48, and his American secretary, Ezra Pound, 27. When Fry is away in Paris buying up art, Vanessa takes over the running of the operation, until she realizes she isn’t getting any painting done.

The Omega Workshops style still looks modern today. Here is the Roger Fry print which I bought in the gift shop of the Courtauld Gallery. It looks great in our Edwardian living room

Design for a Carpet by Roger Fry

Design for a Carpet by Roger Fry

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