Archive JourneysBloomsbury

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'Bloomsbury' is the name given to the artists, writers and intellectuals who began to meet at the Bloomsbury home of the artist Vanessa Bell and her writer sister Virginia Woolf in 1905. Tate's archive provides a fascinating insight into the art, ideas, lifestyle and relationships of Vanessa Bell and her artist friends Duncan Grant and Roger Fry, the three main artists associated with the Bloomsbury Group.

This journey through the archive includes photographs of the artists at work; on location working on decorative commissions and in their studios, providing rare glimpses of their paintings in progress. There are also more intimate photographs of family holidays, picnics and parties, of amateur dramatics and costume designs, as well as of their well known literary friends such as E.M. Forster and Lytton Strachey. Other visual material from the Bloomsbury archive is also available: original sketches and designs from the Omega Workshops, handmade Christmas cards, decorated invitations, menus and posters.
Family and friends of Vanessa Bell at Charleston
Family and friends of Vanessa Bell at Charleston

© Tate Archive, 2003

The correspondence between Vanessa Bell and Roger Fry, who as well as being an artist was one of the leading figures in the history of British modernist theory, includes discussion about their own painting as well as wider developments in the art world. Through their accounts of meetings with other artists and collectors, and visits to exhibitions, this important period of British art history is brought to life. The letters also provide an interesting commentary on the important political events of the early twentieth century, particularly the First World War and the Spanish Civil War, which deeply affected the lives and beliefs of the Bloomsbury group.

In addition to written correspondence, this Archive Journey also includes audio interviews with Duncan Grant, in which he talks about life at Charleston (the house he shared with Vanessa Bell), and memories of his student days in Paris. Together, these resources provide a fascinating insider account of the art world of the early twentieth century, and the remarkable bohemian lifestyle of the Bloomsbury artists.