Vanessa Bell often used flowers and bouquets in all aspects of her creative work, using them in her interior design work, illustrating them in the dust jacket designs she produced for her sister’s novels, and painting them as in this piece. In the 20s and 30s she began to use more muted, sombre tones than she had before the war, but the large vase and sparse chrysanthemums remain impactful against the dark background.
Date of work
Original: Oil paint on canvas 61 x 45.7 cm © Estate of Vanessa Bell, courtesy Henrietta Garnett
Vanessa Bell (1879 – 1961) was a founding member of the Bloomsbury Group, and the sister of Virginia Woolf. She studied at Sir Arthur Cope’s art school and the Royal Academy. In 1907 she married the art critic Clive Bell and had three children. The couple had an open marriage, and Bell had several affairs, most notably with the painter Duncan Grant, who fathered one of her children, and whom she is buried near in the Firle Parish Churchyard. She was one of the first British artists to experiment with abstraction, and was also a talented interior designer.