Vanessa Bell English, 1879-1961


Vanessa Bell (née Stephen; 30 May 1879 – 7 April 1961) was an English painter and interior designer, a member of the Bloomsbury Group and the sister of Virginia Woolf.



1879 Born in London to Sir Leslie Stephen and his wife Julia Prinsep Duckworth. Home educated until she attended Sir Arthur Cope’s art school in 1896.
1901-04 Studied at Royal Academy Schools, taught by John Singer Sargent and others. After the deaths of their parents - Vanessa, sister Virginia and brothers Thoby and Adrian moved to Gordon Square in Bloomsbury, London. Their home became a meeting place for the literary and artistic ‘Bloomsbury Group’. One of the members was Clive Bell who Vanessa married in 1907. Another member Leonard Woolf married her novelist sister Virginia.
1905 Bell sets up the Friday Club, an informal art society which moved in 1911 to the Alpine Club where lectures took place and exhibitions were held until 1922. Artists who attended the Friday Club included Duncan Grant, Mark Gertler, David Bomber, Frank Dobson, William Roberts and Eric Gill.
1910 ‘Manet and the Post-Expressionists’ exhibition, Grafton Galleries, London.
1912 ‘Second Post-Impressionist Exhibition’ Grafton Galleries, London - these two exhibitions were organised by Clive Bell and Roger Fry and the work shown - of Matisse in particular - influenced Vanessa Bell’s painting. She was also influenced by travel to Greece, Turkey and Italy.
1913-19 Vanessa Bell worked on decorative commissions for Omega Workshops which Roger Fry had set up in 1913.
1916 Clive and Vanessa Bell moved to Charleston, near Lewes in Sussex which they shared with the painter Duncan Grant. The house is celebrated for the exuberant decorative scheme carried out by the two artists over the fifty years that they lived there.
1919 Bell joined the London Group with whom she regularly exhibited throughout her life.
1920 & 22 She visited Picasso in Paris and during the 1920s travelled often in France, particularly to Cassis (1928 - 1939).
1938 Taught at Euston Road School, London.
1961 She died on 7 April at Charleston.
1964 Arts Council memorial exhibition.