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Grant painted this large work at the end of 1913 and put it on exhibition in January 1914, when it was bought by the art critic Roger Fry. In April 1914 Grant painted a second version of The Ass, making it the same size but giving the animal and background a softer handling than here. This second version is in the collection of the Ferens Art Gallery, Hull. The source of the imagery was a small Persian miniature of the same subject, reproduced in Clive Bell’s seminal book, Art, published in 1914.

February 2010