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Paula Maggio:

This is a wonderful piece that puts Bloomsbury art in the social, political and cultural context of the 1920s-1930s.

Originally posted on The Charleston Attic:

There was one item in the Gift this week which particularly caught our eye, as it documents two different aspects of Duncan Grant’s life as an artist; his creative style and his status as a member of the British art world.

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CHA-P-1415 Recto: Duncan Grant, drawing, nude woman carrying a basket, ink on paper, 20.1 cm x 14.1 cm. Photograph © The Charleston Trust

On one side of this postcard-sized piece of cream card is an ink drawing of a bare-breasted woman carrying what appears to be a basket of flowers. While there is no annotation or attribution accompanying the drawing, the classical theme and stylised figure suggest that it was made by Grant, possibly as a study for a decorative scheme. For example, it is reminiscent of the figures in Grant and Bell’s large interior painting of 1929 for Penns in the Rocks, the home of the poet, Lady…

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Originally posted on The Charleston Attic:

It is very easy to get lost in imagining the world, people and stories behind the pieces in the Angelica Garnett Gift and this preparatory sketch by Duncan Grant for a mural designed by both Grant and Vanessa Bell is no exception.

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CHA/P/1117, Duncan Grant, Cinderella, coloured pencil on paper, date unknown, 29.5 cm x 23 cm. Photograph © The Charleston Trust

The mural was commissioned by the Council for the Encouragement of Music and the Arts and the British Institute of Adult Education in 1943 for the dining hall of Devonshire Hill School in Tottenham. The design by Grant and Bell depicted the fairytale Cinderella, and was completed during World War II. Sadly, the mural no longer exists, having been dismantled and destroyed during renovation works at the school. Perhaps even more regrettable is that few people are aware that it existed at all. Like many other decorative works…

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Remember the Virginia Woolf desk acquired by Duke University that we wrote about last week? Additional details about the desk, which Woolf designed and her nephew Quentin Bell painted, have come to us from Caroline Zoob, author of Virginia Woolf’s Garden: The Story of the Garden at Monk’s House

Zoob, who lived at Monk’s House for a decade as a tenant of the National Trust, said she had never seen the desk. So she wrote Naomi Nelson of Duke, asking if the desk Duke had acquired — one Zoob described as “slopey” — had ever been at Monk’s House.

Nelson quoted from a letter dated Jan. 5, 1981, from Bell to Colin Franklin, to whom Bell sold the desk in 1980:

The history of it as far as I can remember is this: it remained in my aunt’s possession until about 1929, having been taken first to Asheham and then to Monks House at Rodmell. There in some kind of general turnout and spring clean, Virginia decided to throw it out. I think she had for many years abandoned the habit of writing in an upright position and certainly I never saw her doing anything of the kind, so that this tall desk, usually, I think, used by office workers of the last century and requiring the writer to stand or to sit on a very high stool, was going free. I was offered it and accepted it, and it came to Charleston.

According to Nelson, Bell’s letter “goes on to describe painting the design on the top and reveals that his wife [Olivia] shortened the legs (‘long before the current revival of interest in Virginia Woolf.’)”

Lisa Baskin Unger acquired the desk from Franklin, and it became one of “the most iconic items” in her collection, which is described as one of the largest and most significant private collections on women’s history. So the Virginia Woolf desk now in Duke’s possession is apparently Woolf’s original stand-up desk with its legs shortened to suit Olivia Bell.

The David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Duke University recently acquired Unger’s collection and is now in the process of cataloguing it. The Baskin Collection also holds a collection of letters to Aileen Pippett, author of The Moth and the Star, the first full-length biography of Woolf. Pippett’s correspondents include Vanessa Bell.

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Woolf sightings appear online daily, and Blogging Woolf posts the briefest of them on Facebook. But today we have gathered a few to share with readers here as well. Here they are:

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Life-in-Squares-_3215726bLife in Squares, the BBC Two show that tells the story of the tangled relationships of the Bloomsbury Group from 1901 to 1945, will be on the air this year, shown as three 60-minute episodes.

The program was announced by the BBC last summer.

Filming also began last summer at Charleston Farmhouse, known as Bloomsbury in the country, for scenes set in the 1930s and 1940s. In the rooms where filming took place, much of the original collection was removed, and the art department improvised to make the place more bohemian than it may have been in real life. Domestic clutter that is part of the staging includes posed photographs of the actors based on old family photographs. Filming in London took place last fall.

Two actors play the role of each character in the show, which complicated the casting process. One bit of casting seems pitch-perfect: James Norton, the crime-solving vicar on Grantchester, will play Duncan Grant. Lydia Leonard  of Ambassadors will play a young Virginia Wolf and Phoebe Fox of Switch will star as a young Vanessa Bell.

Discussions with Vanessa’s granddaughter Virginia Nicholson were key in making the show a reality.

Life in Squares gets under the skin of the Bloomsbury group to lay bare the very human and emotional story of a group of people determined to find their own path in life,” said Lucy Bedford, executive producer.

“At heart, Life in Squares is about family: about the families we try to escape, the ones we end up creating and the different kinds of damage love can do,” she added.

 

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Leonard Woolf bust at Monk's House in Rodmell, Sussex, England

Leonard Woolf bust at Monk’s House in Rodmell, Sussex, England

The Leonard Woolf Society will hold its next meetings May 23 in London, and March 2016 in Sri Lanka, with details to be decided.

For more information, contact Surendra Paul, Chair, LWS, UK, at surenpaul@hotmail.com; Nathan Sivasambu/London/UK, at ns.bloomsbury@btinternet.com and AnneMarie Bantzinger/Bilthoven/The Netherlands, at ambantzinger@hotmail.com

Read more about the Leonard Woolf Society and its 2014 Symposium in the Winter 2015 issue of the Virginia Woolf Miscellany. Scroll down to Page 7.

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Blogger Kathleen Dixon Donnelly, who writes about famous literary friends on the Such Such Friends BlogFriends Blog, has recently outdone herself by posting several items about the Bloomsbury Group. The posts cover:

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