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Duncan Grant: A Biography

Duncan Grant: A Biography [Kindle Edition]

Frances Spalding
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Product Description


Spalding makes a powerful case for the dynamism that came of Grant's eclecticism -- Andrea Barnet New York Times 19990606 Spalding faultlessly illuminates his charming character Independent 19980815

Book Description

The first ever biography of Duncan Grant - one of the best known names in the British art scene and the most charismatic member or the Bloomsbury set.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2477 KB
  • Print Length: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Digital; New Ed edition (30 April 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004VS7DXY
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #292,754 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative, Absorbing and Vibrant 8 Jun 2012
This excellent publication by art historian Frances Spalding is a wonderfully intimate, yet scholarly biography of the painter and designer Duncan Grant (1885-1978) a key figure of the Bloomsbury Group and an artist whose long life spanned great changes in both society and art.

Duncan Grant was born in the Scottish Highlands, but spent his early childhood in India and Burma, where his father, Major Bartle Grant, was stationed. Duncan returned to England for his schooling and, at the age of fourteen, he entered St Paul's School, where during his two years at the school he won seven prizes for art. From St Paul's he went on to Westminster School of Art and it was at this time that he lived with the Strachey family, who were relations of the Grants. This brought Duncan into contact with his Strachey cousins, notably Lytton Strachey, and thus into the orbit of the writers, artists and thinkers who formed the Bloomsbury Group. After two visits to Paris to study art, Duncan returned to London and in 1910 when he was exhibiting his pictures at the New English Art Club, Duncan became more involved with the art critic, Roger Fry, who was responsible for bringing the first and radical Post-Impressionist Art Exhibition to London which ran from November 1910 until January 1911. Duncan visited the show many times and was very impressed with the pictures exhibited which inspired him to experiment more boldly with form and with his colour palette and, in doing so, he helped break the mould of Edwardian Painting. Duncan was, however, imbued with a love of the past and, with his talent, he was able to translate many past traditions into modern forms of art.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read. 4 Nov 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This was a very good book and one of the few about Duncan Grant. I wanted to know more about him as I am a guide at Lincoln Cathedral and he decorated one of the side chapels. He was a very interesting character and I learned a great deal from this book about his life within the Bloomsbury set. I would certainly recommend it for someone with a particular interest in this artist and his world.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Pallid bio of Intriguing Painter 1 Feb 1999
By A Customer - Published on
In many ways the painter Duncan Grant is one of the most intriguing members of the Bloomsbury group. A homosexual, he was lover to many of the celebrated male members of that circle: Lytton Strachey, Maynard Keynes, etc. Yet he also chose to live for 40 years with, (& father a child by), the painter Vanessa Bell. Frances Spalding has perviously written an admirable bio of V. Bell, & Grant's family asked her to tackle Grant, with lukewarm results. To me, the process of painting is unexplainable, the best attempt ever written, to my mind, is Maugham's "Moon & Sixpence,"; Spalding's attempts at describing Grant's artistic processes fall flat, & frankly are boring. More interesting to me are the almost incredible personal events that swirled around Grant; That notable procession of lovers, the extraordinary relationship with Bell, the bizarre fact that Grant had affairs with his Daughter's uncle, future husband, & lover! What did Duncan Grant have that so many people wanted? What did he really think of the curious relationship between himself & Bell & their daughter Angelica (who did not know till she was 18 that she was his daughter.) Why would a woman like Vanessa Bell essentially give up her sexual life to live with Grant? And why did Grant, an enthusiastic homosexual, choose to devote a major portion of his life to this woman? Spalding had complete access to Grant's papers & letters, but her feeble attempts to explain Grant's character (beyond his apparent physical beauty, he is called "charming" so many times that I lost count) are pallid. Prehaps, in the end, apart from Grant's enormous talent for painting-and we get a rather niggardly peek at the work-there was no "there there." Read Spalding's "Vanessa Bell: A Biography" for a sharper view of the people & events surrounding Grant's unusual life, "Duncan Grant" is a disappointment.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent biography, a pleasure to read 24 Nov 1999
By "auden" - Published on
Marvellous, Spalding's skill is to sketch out the intricate emotional web against the bright bold untouchable figure of the artist. Her achievement is to let that sense of a man living with a craft shine through on every page: the result in an exceptionally honest and warm portrait. Her tone is objective but sympathetic and generous. This biography accomplishes what is, or should be, the biographer's highest goal: it does not come between the reader and the subject.
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