Duncan Grant – the archetypal tortured artist

Duncan Grant was a member of the Bloomsbury Group of the early 20th Century, he was the archetype of the tortured artist, of a different sort to Vincent van Gogh.

Grant was primarily, a artist, contemporary and friend of the Bell sisters, Virginia Woolf and lover of Maynard Keynes – the famous economist. He was a highly cultures young man, reverting sometimes to 18th century spelling and in his speech, using Austen like turns of phrase – his paintings were no different – there were often allusions to the Old Masters – many of whom also were also thought to have been gay. His artistic references were widely various – encompassing classicism and modernity – to my eye a lot of his works have stylistic similarities to the paintings of Lucian Freud.

HIs career lasted a great length – longer than many of the original artists of the Bloomsbury set, allowing his style to cover many genres and subjects.

Ironically, and despite his homosexuality, his closest relationship ( not romantic) was with Vanessa Bell – he lived with her and David Garnett (with whom he fell into long unrequited  love). Thus was during the First World War – both men were conscientious objectors and thus lived in a secluded part of Sussex where they would not be found out as easily -whether regarding their sexuality, bohemian habits or pacifism.

His art seems to have been an outlet his feelings that were unable to be vented.





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