Henri Doucet

A portrait of Henri Doucet by Vanessa Bell, estimated at £30,000-50,000 at Bonhams.

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The Bloomsbury: Modern British Art sale will run online from April 8-18 and an exhibition of all lots will be held at Bonhams on New Bond Street from April 15-17. 

Known as the Bloomsbury set or group, the band of early 20th century artists, writers and thinkers would regularly meet, first in the Bloomsbury area in London and later at country homes in Sussex.

The core members were art critic Clive Bell and his wife, the artist Vanessa Bell, writer EM Forster, art critic Roger Fry, artist Duncan Grant, economist John Maynard Keynes, journalist Desmond MacCarthy, biographer Lytton Strachey and writers Leonard and Virgina Woolf.

The Bonhams sale is led by two major portraits: Portrait of Henri Doucet, from 1912, painted by Vanessa Bell and Portrait of Lydia Lopokova, c.1922 painted by Duncan Grant. Both works have individual estimates of £30,000-50,000.

Portrait of Lydia Lopokova

Portrait of Lydia Lopokova by Duncan Grant, estimated at £30,00-50,000 at Bonhams.

The sitters in both paintings were influential figures of their time. Henri Doucet was a French painter and Omega Workshops contributor (a design enterprise founded by members of the Bloomsbury Group in 1913). Lydia Lopokova, was a famous Russian ballerina. In 1925 she married fellow Bloomsbury group member and economist, Maynard Keynes.

Ingram Reid, head of sale for Modern British and Irish Art, said: “The quality and variety of the works on offer is excellent, ranging from important portraits of influential figures and key locations such as Charleston, to fascinating market rarities such as a fine group of intact sketchbooks. There are artworks on offer which are museum worthy, yet this collecting area remains highly accessible with bidding starting from £300.”

Also in the auction is a group of six sketchbooks by Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell which have not previously been published or exhibited.

Vanessa Bell sketch

A drawing from Vanessa Bell’s sketchbook, Venice, 1926 estimated at £6000-8000 at Bonhams.

Bonhams notes that one sketchbook includes pages by both Bell and Grant, created during their time travelling through Paris and Spain in 1923 and is estimated at £4000-6000.

Portrait sketch

A portrait from Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant’s sketchbook, Paris and Spain, 1923, estimated at £4000-6000 at Bonhams.

Over the years the Bloomsbury set have been the subject of a number of exhibitions and currently The Garden Museum has Gardening Bohemia: Bloomsbury Women Outdoors running from May 15- September 29 while The Courtauld Gallery is showing Vanessa Bell: A Pioneer in Modern Art running from May 25-October 6.

Hills behind Marbella by Duncan Grant

Hills behind Marbella by Duncan Grant, estimated at £3000-5000 at Bonhams.

Phyllis Keyes dish

This large tin-glazed earthenware dish made by Phyllis Keyes and decorated by Vanessa Bell dates from around 1935. Measuring 19in (47cm) across and marked with Keyes’ insignia and the initials VB, it has an estimate of £1500-2000 at Bonhams.

Vanessa Bell picture

Rio degli Ognissanti, Venice by Vanessa Bell, estimated £8000-12,000 at Bonhams.

Duchess of Devonshire portrait

Portrait of the Duchess of Devonshire by Duncan Grant, estimated at £7000-10,000 at Bonhams.

Duncan Grant sketch

A drawing from Duncan Grant’s sketch book, Rome, 1920, estimated at £5000-7000 at Bonhams.