File:Grant, Self Portrait.jpg

Self Portrait, 1920, National Gallery of Scotland.

Duncan James Corrowr Grant (21 January 1885 - 8 May 1978) was a Scottish painter and member of the Bloomsbury Group. He was a cousin of John Grant, Lord Huntingtower and grandson of the second Sir John Peter Grant [1].

Grant was born in Rothiemurchus in northern Scotland and studied art at the Slade School and in Italy and Paris. He was a cousin, and for some time a lover, of Lytton Strachey. Through the Stracheys, Duncan was introduced to the Bloomsbury Group, where John Maynard Keynes became another of his lovers.

Grant is best known for his painting style, which developed in the wake of French post-impressionist exhibitions mounted in London in 1910. He often worked with, and was influenced by, another member of the group, Roger Fry. As well as painting landscapes and portraits, Fry designed textiles and ceramics.

After Fry founded the Omega workshops in 1913, Grant became co-director with Vanessa Bell, who was then involved with Fry. Although Grant had always been an active homosexual, a relationship with Vanessa blossomed, which was both creative and personal, and he eventually moved in with her and her two sons by her husband Clive Bell. In 1916, in support of his application for recognition as a conscientious objector, Grant joined with his new homosexual lover, David Garnett, in setting up as fruit farmers in Suffolk. Both their applications were initially unsuccessful, but eventually the Central Tribunal agreed to recognise them on condition of their finding more appropriate premises. Vanessa Bell found the house named Charleston near Firle in Sussex. Relationships with Clive Bell remained amicable, and Bell stayed with them for long periods fairly often -- sometimes accompanied by his own mistress, Mary Hutchinson.

Vanessa very much wanted a child by Duncan, and became pregnant in the spring of 1918. Although it is generally assumed that Duncan's sexual relations with Vanessa ended in the months before Angelica was born (Christmas, 1918), they continued to live together for more than forty years.


Left to right: Lady Ottoline Morrell, Mrs. Aldous Huxley, Lytton Strachey, Duncan Grant, and Vanessa Bell.

Living with Vanessa was apparently no impediment to Duncan's relationships with men, either before or after Angelica was born. (Angelica grew up believing that Clive Bell was her father; she bore his surname and his behaviour toward her never indicated otherwise.) Duncan and Vanessa had an open relationship, although she herself apparently never took advantage of this after settling down with him and giving birth to their daughter. He was the great love of her life and she understood that if she was to keep him at Charleston with her she would have to allow him this freedom. The pain this decision cost her is related in Angelica's memoir, Deceived With Kindness. Duncan, in contrast, had many purely physical affairs and several serious relationships with other men such as George Bergen. His love and respect for Vanessa, however, kept him with her until her death in 1961.

In Grant's later years, the poet Paul Roche (1916-2007), whom he had known since 1946, took care of him and enabled Grant to maintain his accustomed way of life at Charleston for many years. In return, Roche was made co-heir of Grant's estate. Grant eventually died in Roche's home in 1978.

Duncan Grant is buried beside Vanessa Bell in the churchyard of St. Peter's Church, West Firle, East Sussex.

Further reading

External links

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