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Duncan James Corrowr Grant (21 January 1885 – 8 May 1978) was a British painter and designer of textiles, pottery and theatre sets and costumes. He was a member of the Bloomsbury Group. (Picture: Duncan Grant, by George Eastman)

His father was Bartle Grant, a "poverty-stricken" major in the army, and much of his early childhood was spent in India and Burma. He was a grandson of Sir John Peter Grant, 12th Laird of Rothiemurchus, KCB, GCMG, sometime Lt-Governor of Bengal. Duncan was also the first cousin twice removed of John Grant, 13th Earl of Dysart (b. 1946).

Grant was born on 21 January 1885 in Rothiemurchus at Aviemore in northern Scotland. He attended school in England from 1894, where he was educated at Hillbrow School, a preparatory school in Rugby, and St Paul's School, London. Grant showed little enthusiasm for studying but enjoyed art classes. He was encouraged by his art teacher and also his aunt Lady Strachey, who organised private drawing lessons for him. Eventually, he was allowed to follow his desire to become an artist, rather than join the army as his father wished, and he attended Westminster School of Art in 1902. He then 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.

Duncan Grant and John Maynard Keynes
Duncan Grant was a British painter and designer. 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. He was in a relationship with Vanessa Bell. Duncan had many serious relationships with men, most notably David Garnett. In Grant's later years, the poet Paul Roche, whom he had known since 1946, took care of him and enabled Grant to maintain his way of life.

George Mallory, by Duncan Grant

Garden Path in Spring, by Duncan Grant

George Mallory, by Duncan Grant

Lytton Strachey, 1909, by Duncan Grant

Chattie Salaman, 1942, by Duncan Grant

Vanessa Bell in an Armchair, 1915, by Duncan Grant

Self-Portrait, 1920, by Duncan Grant

Tulips, by Duncan Grant

Vanessa Bell, by Duncan Grant

Duncan Grant and David Garnett, 1914, by Duncan Grant

Lady Ottoline Morrell; Maria Huxley (née Nys); Lytton Strachey; Duncan Grant; Vanessa Bell (née Stephen), vintage snapshot print, July 1915, 2 1/2 in. x 4 1/8 in. (62 mm x 104 mm) image size, Purchased with help from the Friends of the National Libraries and the Dame Helen Gardner Bequest, 2003, Photographs Collection, NPG Ax140432

Lytton Strachey; Duncan Grant; (Arthur) Clive Bell, by Vanessa Bell (née Stephen), enlarged snapshot print on card folder, 1922, 8 1/2 in. x 6 1/2 in. (216 mm x 165 mm) image size, Purchased, 1979, Photographs Collection, NPG x26568

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, art critic and artist 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 actively 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 his new 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.

In 1935 Grant was selected along with nearly 30 other prominent British artists of the day to provide works of art for the RMS Queen Mary then being built in Scotland. Grant was commissioned to provide paintings and fabrics for the first class Main Lounge. In early 1936, after his work was installed in the Lounge, directors from the Cunard Line made a walk-through inspection of the ship. When they saw what Grant had created, they immediately rejected his works and ordered it removed.

Grant is quoted in the book "The Mary - the inevitable ship" by Potter and Frost, as saying:

"I was not only to paint some large murals to go over the fireplaces, but arrange for the carpets, curtains, textiles, all of which were to be chosen or designed by me. After my initial designs had been passed by the committee I worked on the actual designs for four months. I was then told the committee objected to the scale of the figures on the panels. I consented to alter these, and although it entailed considerable changes, I got a written assurance that I should not be asked to make further alterations. I carried on, and from that time my work was seen constantly by the Company's (Cunard's) representative.

When it was all ready I sent the panels to the ship to put the finishing touches to them when hanging. A few days later I received a visit from the Company's man, who told me that the Chairman had, on his own authority, turned down the panels, refusing to give any reason.

From then on, nothing went right. My carpet designs were rejected and my textiles were not required. The whole thing had taken me about a year..... I never got any reason for the rejection of my work. The company simply said they were not suitable, paid my fee, and that was that."

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 40 years.

Living with Vanessa was 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 having their child. Duncan, in contrast, had many physical affairs and several serious relationships with other men, most notably David Garnett. 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. Roche was made co-heir of Grant's estate. Grant eventually died in Roche's home in 1978.

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

Source: Robert Paul Roche (26 September 1916 – 30 October 2007) was a British poet, novelist, and professor of English, a critically acclaimed translator of Greek and Latin classics, notably the works of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Sappho, and Plautus. Born in Mussoorie, India, Roche was an associate of the Bloomsbury group, especially of painter Duncan Grant, whom he met in the summer of 1946 and who lived with Roche and his family until Grant's death in 1978. (P: Paul Roche in the Studio at Charleston, by kind permission of Pandora Smith)

Duncan Grant was a British painter and designer. 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. He was in a relationship with Vanessa Bell. Duncan had many serious relationships with men, most notably David Garnett. In Grant's later years, Paul Roche took care of him and enabled Grant to maintain his way of life. In 1958 Duncan Grant decorated the Russell Chantry at Lincoln Cathedral, using Roche as the model for Christ. In 1973 they travelled together to Turkey, resulting in the journal With Duncan Grant in Southern Turkey (1982). In 1975 they took a house and spent six months in Tangier, where Paul nursed Grant through pneumonia. Roche was made co-heir of Grant's estate. He was devastated when, in 1978, at the Roche household where he had come to live, Duncan Grant died of bronchial pneumonia at the age of 93.

Paul Roche used his translation of Sophocles', Oedipus the King, to write a screenplay for a film version of the work released in 1968 with Christopher Plummer in the title role. Roche played a small role in the Greek chorus.

Roche was ordained as a priest in 1943 but left priesthood in the 1950s. Marrried twice, he was a father of three children with his first and one with his second wife.
Paul Roche in the Garden, by Duncan Grant, painted circa 1960s


Days of Love: Celebrating LGBT History One Story at a Time by Elisa Rolle
Paperback: 760 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (July 1, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1500563323
ISBN-13: 978-1500563325
CreateSpace Store:
Amazon (Paperback):
Amazon (Kindle):

Days of Love chronicles more than 700 LGBT couples throughout history, spanning 2000 years from Alexander the Great to the most recent winner of a Lambda Literary Award. Many of the contemporary couples share their stories on how they met and fell in love, as well as photos from when they married or of their families. Included are professional portraits by Robert Giard and Stathis Orphanos, paintings by John Singer Sargent and Giovanni Boldini, and photographs by Frances Benjamin Johnson, Arnold Genthe, and Carl Van Vechten among others. “It's wonderful. Laying it out chronologically is inspired, offering a solid GLBT history. I kept learning things. I love the decision to include couples broken by death. It makes clear how important love is, as well as showing what people have been through. The layout and photos look terrific.” Christopher Bram “I couldn’t resist clicking through every page. I never realized the scope of the book would cover centuries! I know that it will be hugely validating to young, newly-emerging LGBT kids and be reassured that they really can have a secure, respected place in the world as their futures unfold.” Howard Cruse “This international history-and-photo book, featuring 100s of detailed bios of some of the most forward-moving gay persons in history, is sure to be one of those bestsellers that gay folk will enjoy for years to come as reference and research that is filled with facts and fun.” Jack Fritscher

Date: 2013-05-08 03:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
He was rather gorgeous when young. I wonder why the self portrait is so dark...

Date: 2013-05-08 03:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
he was indeed, there is a whole series of those portraits, in different poses. He could have been a model himself instead of a painter.


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