Duncan Grant

The Mantelpiece


Not on display

Duncan Grant 1885–1978
Oil paint and paper on board
Support: 457 × 394 mm
frame: 478 × 415 × 30 mm
Purchased 1971

Display caption

The objects on the mantelpiece shown in this painting include handmade paper flowers from the Omega workshops and, on the right, an Omega box by Frederick Etchells with swimmers on its sides.

This painting, and the one by Vanessa Bell depicting the same subject which hangs nearby, demonstrate the differences in approach of the two artists. Grant’s work is notable for the use of cut and coloured paper collaged to the surface of the painting

Gallery label, February 2010

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Catalogue entry

Duncan Grant 1885-1978

T01328 The Mantlepiece 1914

Inscribed ‘D Grant/1914’ b.r.
Oil and collage on board, 18 x 15½ (46 x 39.5).
Purchased from the d’Offay Couper Gallery (Gytha Trust) 1971.
Coll: Bought by the vendors from the artist.

Duncan Grant painted T01328 at the same time as Vanessa Bell painted T01133, which represents the same subject and is slightly larger (22 x 18 in.). In notes sent on 6 February 1972, the artist wrote that these pictures were painted in a front room, facing the square, at 46 Gordon Square, London. The flowers represented were paper flowers, probably of the kind made at the Omega Workshops. The box at the right was painted by Frederick Etchells and is still in Duncan Grant’s possession.

Vanessa Bell’s painting is in oil on canvas. Duncan Grant’s is partly painted direct and is partly of collage, for which he used some already-coloured papers and some papers painted by himself. In conversation with the compiler (22 March 1972), Duncan Grant recalled that the papers were applied in front of the motif, being chosen by him to accord to the spaces as he perceived them. In the notes of 6 February 1972 he described T01328 as ‘perhaps one of the first pictures in which I used collage’. His retrospective exhibition at the Tate Gallery in 1959 included a ‘Still-Life’ (23) in oil and collage on millboard, inscribed ‘D Grant 1912’.

Published in The Tate Gallery Report 1970–1972, London 1972.


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