Every so often I like sharing with you a painting or an artist that I love. Vanessa Bell is one such artist. I was fortunate enough to visit the recent exhibition of her work at The Dulwich Picture Gallery. The exhibition was such a treat — and it was easily one of my favorite in recent years. If you haven’t come across Vanessa Bell or her work, know that she was a modernist painter, a central figure of the Bloomsbury Group, and of course sister to Virginia Woolf. She created paintings, still life, abstracts and landscapes, ceramics, and beautiful fabrics.
I was first introduced to Vanessa Bell’s art by a friend who took me to Charleston. Charleston was the former home of Bell and Duncan Grant and a hub of creative and intellectual activity during the early 20th century. I immediately fell in love with both Charleston and Vanessa Bells work — the colors, the patterns, and often the homeliness of the paintings. So many of Bells paintings of domestic scenes are scenes I would like to step into. Vases of flowers, patterned fabrics, and contrasting colors — the like of which appeal to my aesthetic tendencies.
A painting I have only recently seen, as it was on display at the exhibition in Dulwich, is titled “On The Steps of Santa Maria Salute” in Venice. The mellowness and calm of the light apricot colored building against the pale blue sky is beautiful. It portrays a warmth and gentle side of Venice without the myriad of gondolas or tourists which so often litter Venice scenes.
“Oranges and Lemons” has become a recent favorite. I recently bought the print and it is now framed and hanging on my sitting room wall for me to gaze on whenever I want!
If you want to see Vanessa Bells work in its original setting then might I suggest a trip to Charleston, the former home of Bell and Duncan Grant. You can read more about Charleston on my post, “Charleston – An Artists Home.”
Vanessa Bell (née Stephen; 30 May 1879 – 7 April 1961) was an English painter and interior designer, a member of the Bloomsbury Group and the sister of Virginia Woolf. Vanessa Stephen was the eldest daughter of Sir Leslie Stephen and Julia Prinsep Duckworth. The family, including her sister Virginia; brothers Thoby (1880–1906) and Adrian (1883–1948), and half-brothers, George and Gerald Duckworth, lived at 22 Hyde Park Gate, Westminster, London. She was educated at home in languages, mathematics and history, and took drawing lessons from Ebenezer Cook before she attended Sir Arthur Cope’s art school in 1896, and then studied painting at the Royal Academy in 1901. | Read More About Vanessa Bell