When most people think of the Bloomsbury Group the first name that comes to mind is Virginia Woolf. Bloomsbury was, in fact, the name given to a group of intellectuals composed of writers, intellectuals, and artist’s that met at Woolf’s home. The main artists associated with the group were Duncan Grant, Roger Fry, and Woolf’s sister, Vanessa Bell. The group met at Woolf’s home to discuss everything from politics, design, art, writing, costume design, and dramatics. Their meetings focused on using their talents to express their beliefs about the way they led their lives. Lives, that were deeply affected by the First World War and the Spanish Civil War.
I was first introduced to the art of the Bloomsbury Group when I was hired by an estate to appraise a large collection of paintings by Grant, Fry, and Bell. As I began to research and study the group I was surprised that the names of the artists in this group were not as well known as their literary counter-parts. Despite this, I was please to find out that there was at least one major dealer in England that specialized in the group as well as a growing number of collectors. I felt like I had come across one of the most important unknown collections in America. Then, earlier this year, I opened up Domino magazine and there, on the pages, was an entire article dedicated to decorating in the style of the bohemian Bloomsbury Group. A few weeks later, my Pottery Barn catalog arrived and again, there was a whole section devoted to Bloomsbury styles and fabrics. I was taken aback and thrilled. I also wished that the client from the estate I appraised had been around to see the world’s rediscovery of such an important style.
You may be wondering at this point how this affects the market. Only time will tell but when a major home retailer like Pottery Barn picks up on the style it is only a matter of time before people will be scrambling to find out everything there is to know about those behind the style. It is likely that the increased interest in the Bloomsbury style will increase interest in Bloomsbury paintings as well. In fact, that may already be happening. On November 6, 2007, a piece by Duncan Grant was sold at Sotheby’s London. The painting on ceramic tile entitled Still Life, measuring 24.4” X 8.66” was estimated to sell for $8,399-$12,510 but ended up selling for $19,550. At Christies in October of 2007 Grant’s watercolor, Study for panel to decorate the ‘Queen Mary’ sold for well above its auction estimate ($1031-$1444) and achieved $3353.
If this peaks your interest, it is not too late to get in on the action. On March 18 of this year, the oil on canvas entitled, Still Life with Jug and Pear measuring 20.47” X 30.31” will be auctioned at Sotheby’s London. The estimate for this piece is $7,986-$11,980.