oil on canvas
Dimensions: 76 by 61cm., 30 by 24in.
Provenance: Acquired directly from the artist by the family of the present owner
Notes: In 1918-19 Duncan Grant painted an extensive series of still lifes at Charleston, his war time home in Sussex. Several of them were shown at his first one-man exhibition held at the Carfax Gallery, London, in early 1920. In that show, no.20 in the catalogue was listed as Clematis and was bought for 20 gns. by John Maynard Keynes, Grant's great friend and collector of his work. The painting, now in the Keynes Collection, King's College, Cambridge, is an almost exact copy of the present work, the slight variations between the two suggesting that it is the second version.
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The present painting shows a vase of flowers in the fireplace of the sitting room at Charleston. The underside of the mantelshelf runs above the flowers which are placed on a stone slab set up in front of the grate. A book resting on the shelf juts into the top right corner of the work. The jug, decorated with a landscape, is Italian and is still at Charleston; it appears in several of Grant's flowerpieces of c.1915-20. The flowers (white clematis, oriental poppies, roses and perhaps a pink) suggest the picture was painted in May-June, and the style certainly puts the work in 1918.
In his earlier years Grant quite often made two or three versions of a subject in order to explore various aspects of the design but few are as close in colour, composition and handling as this lot and its twin in the Keynes Collection. The present painting has a fresher surface with more canvas showing between the discrete patches of colour rendered in close-packed parallel brushstrokes of high-pitched pigment. It also exaggerates a little more than does the other picture the tipped-up rectangle below the vase. It is highly characteristic of Grant's brilliantly coloured and deliberately painted works of c.1917-20 and bears comparison with his Coffee Pot (c.1918, coll. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York).
We are very grateful to Richard Shone for his cataloguing of this lot and lot 8.