Grant, Duncan

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Duncan Grant

1885 – 1978

Duncan Grant was born in Inverness in 1885 and went on to become a key member of the “Bloomsbury Group”. His early years were spent in India and Burma, where his father’s regiment was stationed.

In 1893 he returned to England and at Rugby he met Rupert Brooke and developed an interest in art. After leaving school he went to live with his uncle, Richard Strachey (1817-1908). This brought him into contact with his children, notably Lytton Strachey.

Grant studied at the Westminster School of Art and later for one year in Paris, at Jacques-Emile Blanche’s La Palette.

On his return to London, Grant had a brief affair with his cousin Lytton Strachey, before starting a long-term relationship with John Maynard Keynes. In 1905 Virginia Woolf and several friends and relatives began meeting to discuss literary and artistic issues. The friends, who eventually became known as the Bloomsbury Group.

In 1910 Grant’s work was exhibited at the Grafton Galleries in London. This brought him to the attention of Edward Marsh, the wealthy art patron, who purchased his Parrot Tulips.

Grant helped Roger Fry, to select paintings for the exhibition entitled “British, French and Russian Artists” held at the Grafton Galleries, between October 1912 and January 1913. This is, arguably, the most important art exhibition ever held in the UK, completely transforming the direction of British Art. Artists included in the exhibition included Grant, Fry, Percy Wyndham Lewis, Spencer Gore, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Paul Cézanne and Wassily Kandinsky.

In 1975 the Tate Gallery mounted an exhibition to mark his 90th birthday, and in 1999 an exhibition overseeing the work of the Bloomsbury circle was shown at Tate Britain. Grant was a prolific artist known for his bold and colourful portraits, landscapes and still-lifes.

His work is in numerous public collections both in the UK and abroad.