(b London, 30 May 1879; d Charleston, Firle,
Sussex, 7 April 1961).
English painter. Daughter of the eminent literary critic Sir Leslie
Stephen and his wife Julia Duckworth, Vanessa Bell inherited a High
Victorian attitude to art against which she was to react. She
trained as a painter under Arthur Cope (1857–1940), then at the
Royal Academy Schools, where one of her tutors was John Singer
Sargent. Family circumstances restricted the work of her early
years, and not until 1906 did she begin to assert herself as an
artist, forming the Friday Club in an attempt to create an
atmosphere in London more conducive to painting. Her Iceland Poppies
(1908; priv. col.), exhibited at the New English Art Club in the
summer of 1909, was praised by Sickert and marks her artistic
maturity. Its quiet, restrained naturalism was, however, to be
exploded a year later by her experience of Post-Impressionism.
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