Propped up in the background, behind the wooden chair, is a landscape painting which is almost lost amid the riot of colour and pattern. This 'painting within a painting' has been identified by art historian Richard Shone as 'By the Estuary' by the prominent Bloomsbury artist Vanessa Bell, the sister of Virginia Woolf and close companion of Duncan Grant. Bell's painting shows the outbuildings of Eleanor House in West Wittering, a village on the Chichester estuary, where Grant and Bell spent the spring of 1915 with other members of the Bloomsbury Group. Later that year, Vanessa Bell rented a house known as The Grange in nearby Bosham, and it was probably here that Grant's 'Still Life, Lime Juice' was painted.
Extract from 'The British Ambassador's Residence Washington DC: Works of Art from the UK Government Art Collection' (London 2004)
Duncan Grant was born in Inverness in 1885. He studied at Westminster School of Art and also in Paris - where he met Matisse and Picasso - and at the Slade in London. From 1908 he was part of the Bloomsbury group, that included Vanessa Bell, her sister Virginia Woolf and Roger Fry. Grant’s painting style was influenced by the post-Impressionist exhibitions of 1910 and 1912 that Fry organised in London. With Fry and Bell, Grant founded the Omega Workshops to make decorative works. In his later years he lived at Charleston, Sussex, with Vanessa Bell. The pair travelled widely in Europe and spent much time in the South of France. After Bell's death in 1961, he continued painting and travelling and died in 1978 of pneumonia.
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