“Such Friends”: 100 Years Ago, February, 1920, London, England

Painter Duncan Grant, 35, is feeling pretty good about himself.

His first solo show opened earlier this month at the Paterson-Carfax Gallery in Old Bond Street and sales are going well. His Bloomsbury friends have been very supportive. Art critic Roger Fry, 53, organized the opening party. Fry picked Duncan’s Reclining Nude to give to their friend, novelist Virginia Woolf, 37, as a present, and Duncan gave her one of his watercolors. He’s produced many this year.

Reclining Nude watercolor Duncan 1920

Reclining Nude by Duncan Grant

Their other buddy, writer Lytton Strachey, 39, who just had a big hit with his untraditional biography, Eminent Victorians, bought Grant’s painting Juggler and Tightrope Walker for £60.

Juggler from athenaeium again

Juggler and Tightrope Walker by Duncan Grant

Without revealing that he and Duncan are good friends, art critic Clive Bell, 38, Virginia’s brother-in-law, had declared in the Athenaeum:

Duncan Grant is, in my opinion, the best English painter alive.”

Duncan has heard that the Daily Telegraph’s critic is planning a less-than complementary review. But—at least his mom is happy. Ethel Grant, 57, wrote to him the day after the opening,

I was a proud woman yesterday…Your show is going to be a big success I am convinced. You will know that five pictures were sold when we got there…I think the pictures are so well hung and when I went in the morning, with a bright sun and an empty room, the whole place seemed full of colour and joy. I felt exhilarated. Dear darling boy I am so pleased and hope you are going to make your mark at once.”

Fingers crossed.

“Such Friends”: 100 Years Ago… is the basis for the book, “Such Friends”: The Literary 1920s, to be published by K. Donnelly Communications. For more information, email me at kaydee@gpysyteacher.com.

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

In 2020 I will be talking about Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins and his relationships with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and others in both the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie-Mellon University’sOsher Lifelong Learning programs.

Manager as Muse, about Perkins and his writers, is available on Amazon in both print and Kindle versions.