Still Life, Lime Juice

Duncan Grant (1885 - 1978)

Oil on canvas


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© 1978 Estate of Duncan Grant, courtesy Henrietta Garnett

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  • About the work
    Country: China
    City: Beijing
    Place: British Embassy

    Duncan Grant was a member of the Bloomsbury Group, a loose gathering of artists, writers and intellectuals that included Virginia Woolf and E. M. Forster, the artist and critic Roger Fry, and the economic John Maynard Keynes. 'Still Life, Lime Juice' was probably painted in 1915 (despite being retrospectively dated 1911 by the artist), at a time when Grant was exploring abstraction and assimilating the work of French artists such as Cézanne and Matisse. This painting also reflects Grant's designs for the Omega Workshops, the decorative arts company founded by Roger Fry in 1913. The composition of the scene is flattened and reduced to patches of bright colour; the main motif of the still life is forced to compete for our attention with the brightly coloured table and striped wallpaper.

    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)

  • About the artist
    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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  • Details
    Still Life, Lime Juice
    Oil on canvas
    height: 76.00 cm, width: 56.00 cm
    Purchased from Fox Galleries, January 1979
    bl: D.Grant / 1911
    Gift from the artist to Richard Shone 1969; sold to Mayor Gallery
    GAC number