Duncan Grant

Fonds number:
Title: Duncan Grant
Dates of Material:
1905–1977, predominant 1945–1977
5 cm of textual records
11 photographs: b&w
Biographical sketch

Duncan Grant was a British painter and member of the Bloomsbury Group. Born in Inverness, Scotland, his earliest years were spent in India and Burma, before returning to England in 1894 to attend St. Paul’s school in London, where he was under the care of his aunt and uncle, the parents of Lytton Strachey. He attended the Westminster School of Art in 1902, and a few years after that met members of what was to become the Bloomsbury Group. After a year in Paris he returned to London to become a regular at Bloomsbury gatherings, and in 1911 he worked on his first major commission. From 1914 on he lived and worked with Vanessa Bell, a relationship that would last nearly fifty years despite the fact she was married to Clive Bell. During World War I Grant was a pacifist who was eventually recognized as a conscientious objector. His first one-man exhibition was in 1920, and until the late 1930s he was recognized as one of the most important British artists. He travelled widely with Vanessa Bell in Europe, and continued painting and travelling after her death in 1961. He died in 1978.

Scope and content

Fonds consists of correspondence regarding the authorship of the poems in “Euphrosyne": to Lady Aberconway from Duncan Grant, 1962; between Lady Aberconway and the British Museum, 1962–1963; and between Lady Aberconway’s Secretary and Cambridge University Library, 1962–1963; and to Philip Gibbons, 1945–1959, re Grant’s paintings and other matters. Also includes personal letters and postcards regarding travel and other activities, and relationships and other topics, written by Grant to Simon Watney, 1969–1977; three letters to Grant with sketches by him on the verso, 1905, 1906, 1940; photographs, including Grant as a young man and Charleston home; a letter by Grant and two to him; a note and a ticket signed by Grant; notes and other material re Grant paintings and models; a postcard sent by Virginia Woolf with a clipping pasted on, 1929.

Source of supplied title

Title based on contents of the fonds.

Immediate source of acquisition

Correspondence, 1962–1963, was acquired in July 1992 from Sothebys as part of a lot including the publication Euphrosyne: a Collection of Verse; other records in Accession 2009.09 were acquired from dealer Michael Silverman in April 2009.

Records in Accession 2009.14 were acquired from dealer Peter Grogan in May 2009.

Records in Accession 2009.16 were acquired from Simon Watney in June 2009.

Language of material

One letter is in Italian

Access restrictions

Restrictions on access: No restrictions on access.

Finding aids

Box/file list available


Further accruals are expected

Access points

Provenance access points:
Grant, Duncan, 1885–1978
Aberconway, Christabel Mary Melville macnaughton McLaren, Baroness, 1890


Bloomsbury Group

Related exhibitions at Victoria University Library

In 1997 the library mounted “Bloomsbury: Books, art and design,” an exhibition based on its Virginia Woolf collection.

In 2007 the exhibition Virginia & Co. was mounted to celebrate the 125th birthday of Virginia Woolf.