Lot 12
  • 12

Duncan Grant

40,000 - 60,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Duncan Grant
  • the room with a view
  • oil on canvas
  • 76 by 57cm.; 30 by 22½in.


Carfax Gallery, London, where purchased by the Gallery's Director, Arthur Clifton, 1920
By descent to Mrs Clifton, by whom sold to Thomas Agnew & Sons, London, where purchased by the present owner's family, 15 October 1974


London, Carfax Gallery, Paintings by Duncan Grant, February 1920, cat. no.12;
London, Thomas Agnew and Sons, Modern British Paintings, Summer 1974, as Landscape Through a Window;
London, Tate, The Art of Bloomsbury: Roger Fry, Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, 4 November 1999 - 30 January 2000, cat. no.122, with tour to The Huntington, San Marino, 4 March - 30 April 2000 and Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 20 May - 2 September 2000;
Clandeboye, Northern Ireland, Ava Gallery, Duncan Grant. Paintings from 1905 to the 1970s,  2005 cat. no. 10, illustrated in the catalogue.


Charles Harrison, English Art and Modernism, 1981, illustrated, pl. 72;
Christopher Reid, The Times Literary Supplement, 12 November 1999.

Catalogue Note

The walled garden at Charleston, the artist's and Vanessa Bell's home in Sussex, is seen through the open French windows of the sitting room. In 1919, just after the end of the First World War, much of the garden, through war-time contingencies, was still given over to vegetables and fruit trees, here seen in blossom on what was almost certainly a day in April 1919. Vanessa Bell is seated on a reclining deckchair on the terrace. This was perhaps the first moment of real relaxation she afforded herself after the birth of her and Grant's daughter, Angelica, born on Christmas Day 1918; the birth was followed by a period of great anxiety when the baby was seriously ill. In the spring and summer  Grant was working on several paintings in readiness for his first solo exhibition held the following year at the Carfax Gallery, London. In October 1919, in a sketchbook,  he records the picture under the title The Room with a View in a list of finished pictures  (and unfinished) for his Carfax show. The title may well be a conscious reference to E.M. Forster's novel A Room with a View (1908). Bell was a great admirer of Forster's novels and the writer paid his first visit to Charleston in August 1919.

As far as is known, this is the first of a long line of paintings by Grant of interior/exterior views made at Charleston (where Grant had lived since autumn 1916). Its rapid brushwork and minimal drawing suggest it was carried out in one 'sitting' although there is evidence that the sky was painted over an initial lighter blue and after the branches of the trees had been put in. Its note of spontaneity and domestic peace, after the hard years of war and the recent concern over Angelica's health, set a precedent for immediately following works although by c. 1920 Grant's style became more solid and 'finished',  as in another Charleston garden scene The Hammock (1920-21; Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne; and (second version), Christie's South Kensington, 17th December 2008, lot 6).

The painting was favourably noticed in the press at Grant's Carfax exhibition from which it was acquired by the gallery's director Arthur Clifton who had known Grant's work since the 1911 Camden Town Group exhibition held at the Carfax and to which Grant had contributed. It passed to Clifton's widow and was not exhibited again or reproduced for fifty-four years.

We are grateful to Richard Shone for preparing the catalogue note for the present work.