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Vanessa Bell lived in Asheham House, near Lewes in Sussex, in the summer of 1912. Several artists came to stay including, briefly, Frederick Etchells and his sister Jessie. Bell thought Jessie ‘a nice character...and very silent’ but found Frederick difficult, and their visit was a strain. There is no sign of this in the relaxed atmosphere of this image.

Bell never exhibited this painting, but it is finished. It is chiefly a study in colour and design; the features of the figures are noticeably absent. Bell tried to expunge specific detail in much of her work of this period.

February 2010