The Duncan Grant Collection
St Peter's is home to one of the largest collections in the UK of works by the celebrated artist and designer Duncan Grant (1885–1978). The items are on generous long term loan to the college by an alumnus.
Housed in the SCR Dining Room, the collection contains over 70 pieces, ranging in date from the very beginning of Grant’s career to the very end, and includes works in various different media, from watercolour portraits of famous Bloomsbury Group members, such as Vanessa Bell (1879–1961), to designs on mercerised cotton for cushion covers on the RMS Queen Mary.
The collection is open to public viewings for both individuals and groups. For all enquiries please contact the college Archivist, Dr Richard Allen.
Duncan James Corrowr Grant (21 January 1885 – 8 May 1978) was a British painter and designer of textiles, pottery, theatre sets and costumes. He was a member of the group of English writers, intellectuals, philosophers and artists known as the Bloomsbury Group.
Born on 21 January 1885 to Major Bartle Grant and Ethel McNeil in Rothiemurchus, Aviemore, Scotland, Grant spent much of his early childhood in India and Burma, before returning to England with his family in 1894. He attended Hillbrow School, Rugby (1894–99), and St Paul's School, London (1899-91), where he was awarded several art prizes. He then spent the next two years living with his aunt and uncle, Sir Richard and Lady Strachey, before enrolling at Westminster School of Art in 1902.
A period of travel, and a term at the Slade School of Fine Art, eventually led to Grant moving to 21 Fitzroy Square in November 1909. Having befriended Vanessa Stephen (later Bell) four years earlier, he here befriended her siblings Adrian and Virginia Stephen (later Woolfe). It was through such connections that Grant became involved in the Bloomsbury Group.
The turning point in Grant's career came in 1910, when he responded to the implications of a French post-impressionist exhibition which the painter and critic Roger Fry (1866–1934) had mounted at the Grafton Galleries in London. He rid himself abruptly of all the pictorial conventions that had previously governed his art and experimented with an expressive handling of line, colour, and form. He later became a co-director, along with Vanessa Bell, of the Omega workshops, founded by Fry in 1913.
Grant's relationship (both professional and personal) with Bell endured until the end of her life in 1961. It coincided with the height of his popularity as an artist, which began to wane in the post-war period, and resulted in his move to Charleston, Sussex, which remained his permanent home until his own death in 1978.