Vanessa Bell

Helen Dudley


Not on display

Vanessa Bell 1879–1961
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 724 × 610 mm
frame: 788 × 670 × 42 mm
Presented by the Trustees of the Chantrey Bequest 1969

Display caption

Helen Dudley was the daughter
of a prominent Chicago gynaecologist.
In 1914 she had a brief affair with the
English philosopher, Bertrand Russell,
who she met at Harvard, Massachusetts.


Bell painted this portrait at Roger Fry's
home 'Durbins', outside Guildford,
before Helen Dudley's friendship with Russell had ended. At this time Bell was making decorative art, including mosaics and pottery, for Fry's Omega Workshops.
The strong colours and elementary forms
in this portrait recall her decorative
drawing technique and the influence
of the Post-Impressionist artists.

Gallery label, September 2004

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Catalogue entry

Vanessa Bell 1879–1961
T01123 HELEN DUDLEY circa 1915
Not inscribed.
Canvas, 28½×24 (72.5×61).
Chantrey Purchase from the artist's daughter, Mrs Angelica Garnett, 1969.
Exh: Adams Gallery, October 1961 (13, dated 1916); Arts Council Gallery, London, February–March 1964, and provincial tour, April–August (29); Royal Academy, 1970 (45).
Repr: Royal Academy Illustrated, 1970, p. 8.

The sitter was the daughter of a Chicago gynaecologist. In his Autobiography ... 1872–1914, 1967, Bertrand Russell tells (pp. 212–14) how, having earlier studied at Oxford under Gilbert Murray, Helen Dudley returned to England in 1914. Duncan Grant recalled (conversation, 18 July 1970) that Vanessa Bell painted this portrait at Durbins, Roger Fry's home in Guildford, before Helen Dudley's friendship with Russell broke up. He himself did not recall ever painting her. A drawing of Helen Dudley by Roger Fry is in the possession of Fry's daughter Mrs Pamela Diamand.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1968-70, London 1970

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