“Such Friends”: 100 years ago, March, 1921, Charleston Farmhouse, East Sussex, England

Vanessa Bell, 41, painting at her country home, Charleston, is pleased to have her work in an exhibit, “Some Contemporary English Artists,” on now at the Independent Gallery, in Grafton Street in the posh Mayfair section of London.

Chrysanthemums by Vanessa Bell, 1920

Also included in the exhibit is work by her partner, Duncan Grant, 36.

Self-portrait in a Mirror by Duncan Grant, 1920

Last month her brother Adrian Stephen, 37, and his wife Karin, 32, both psychologists, commissioned Vanessa and Duncan to decorate their rooms at 40 Gordon Square, the same part of Bloomsbury where Vanessa has lived since her father died in 1904.

And the two painters are still working on a big commission from their Bloomsbury friend, economist John Maynard Keynes, 37, to create new murals for his rooms at King’s College, Cambridge. Since last summer they have been producing eight allegorical figures, alternating male and female, to fill almost a whole wall, representing Science, Political Economics, Music, Classics, Law, Mathematics, Philosophy and History as well as advising Maynard on every detail of the interior decoration of the sitting room, right down to the color of the curtains.

Drawings for Vanessa and Duncan’s murals for Maynard’s Cambridge sitting room

So they are busy. Together.  They work well as a team and have received recognition. But Vanessa is worried that her painting is becoming too much like Duncan’s.

What Vanessa really wants is to have a solo exhibit of her own work. As Duncan did last year.

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago… is the basis for the series, “Such Friends”:  The Literary 1920s. Volume I, covering 1920, is available on Amazon in both print and e-book formats. For more information, email me at kaydee@gypsyteacher.com.

This summer I will be talking about The Literary 1920s in the Osher Lifelong Learning programs at Carnegie-Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh.

If you want to walk with me through Bloomsbury, you can download my audio walking tour, “Such Friends”: Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group.

Manager as Muse, about Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins’ relationships with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe, is available on Amazon in both print and Kindle versions.

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