This painting of sibling artists Frederick and Jessie Etchells was painted by Bell during a family holiday at Asheham House in Sussex in the summer of 1912. Bell rented the house with her sister Virginia Woolf, and they played host to several fellow artists and writers during their stay there. Bell painted this sketch of the Etchells at work on their own pieces directly onto wood, deliberately leaving out smaller details, such as the pair’s faces. Bell found Jessie to be ‘a nice character’, but thought her brother was difficult, which made the visit somewhat problematic.
Frederick and Jessie Etchells Painting
Date of work
Original: Oil paint on wood 51.1 x 53 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.