This is the largest of a group of still lifes made by Duncan Grant at Asheham House, Sussex, in the first weeks of War in August and September 1914. All the paintings show a bamboo table bearing an assortment of objects - oil lamp, bottles, cups and saucers - set close to the high flint wall that bordered the paved terrace in front of the house. The mottled and varied texture of this wall forms the background to all the paintings. The present one is a pendant to Vanessa Bell's Triple Alliance, also in oil and collage on board (University of Leeds collection). Since at least early 1914 Grant had made an increasing number of works using collage and papier collé. Triple Alliance is unique in Bell's work for its reference to current European events in the collaged fragments of maps and The Times (of 1st September 1914). Grant's simpler collage elements are drawn directly from the motif - the labels from a bottle of Bulmer's cider, and a piece of painted paper forming the bottle of Apollinaris soda at the right.
It is not known when Grant first used collage in his works but at some point in February/March 1914 he 'stole' from his hotel bedroom in Paris some unused rolls of old-fashioned wallpaper to give to Picasso (whom he came to know at this time through meetings at Gertrude Stein's and a visit to Picasso's studio). The artist had told Grant that he could not find more of the kind of patterned wallpapers that he wished to use in his works of that period. This incident was almost certainly a spur to Grant's own use of collage. This was also encouraged by his designing for the Omega Workshops in 1913-14 but collage does not seem to appear in his studio paintings until early 1914, becoming abundant in 1915, the year in which he exhibited an abstract collage (with wood attachments) at the Vorticist exhibition in London.
The painting was owned by the critic and writer Raymond Mortimer, probably acquired directly from the artist, and it hung in later years at Long Crichel, Dorset, the country house Mortimer shared with Edward Sackville-West, Eardley Knollys and others. He bequeathed the work on his death in 1980 to Frances Partridge. It can be seen above the desk in her London flat in a photograph reproduced on the back of the jacket for her volume of diaries, Hanging On (1990).
We are grateful to Richard Shone for his kind assistance with the cataloguing of this lot.
Please call 1-800-555-5555 to order a print catalog for this sale.
Online Registration to Bid is Closed for this Sale. Would you like to watch the live sale?Watch Live Sale