Re-hang in the Bloomsbury group’s house at Charleston features ten rarely-seen portraits for ten weeks only

Charleston presents ‘The Faces of Bloomsbury’, a rare display of loaned paintings within the house and studio at the Bloomsbury group’s home in Sussex, open for just ten weeks.
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Ten seldom seen portraits featuring Bloomsbury group figures, on loan from private collections, will appear for a limited time in the rooms of the modernist home from 7 February to 14 April 2024.

These include some of the earliest known works by the two artists who lived at Charleston – Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell. They will hang alongside Charleston’s internationally significant collection of paintings, furniture and objects by the Bloomsbury group, making it an unmissable opportunity for both regular and first-time visitors alike to experience the house in a different light.

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According to a spokesperson: “The exhibition offers a glimpse into the intimate lives and artistry of some of the most celebrated artists, writers, and thinkers of the early 20th century. Showcasing works generously lent from private collections, visitors will have a rare opportunity to explore the intricate details of these masterpieces, shedding light on the personalities and relationships that defined the Bloomsbury group.”

Duncan Grant, David Garnett in Profile, 1915, Private CollectionDuncan Grant, David Garnett in Profile, 1915, Private Collection
Duncan Grant, David Garnett in Profile, 1915, Private Collection

Highlights include a monumental portrait of Vanessa Bell by Duncan Grant that was recently rediscovered in America. The life-sized portrait was painted on an old door or table-top, and likely created at Charleston during the First World War. This will be the first UK museum showing of this work for over 50 years.

Also two extraordinary portraits by Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, created soon after their friend Roger Fry brought the radical work of Vincent Van Gogh, Henri Matisse and Paul Cezanne to England for the first time. Grant’s 1914 portrait of the writer Mary Hutchinson, for a time Clive Bell’s lover, and Bell’s 1915 portrait of her friend Molly MacCarthy, are some of the earliest British experiments in abstraction and collage, reflecting the European approach to portraiture.

Also an early sombre portrait by Vanessa Bell of her father Leslie Stephens, painted in 1902 in the style of the Victorian painter GF Watts. It will hang alongside an original work by GF Watts of Bell’s mother Julia Stephens, from Charleston’s collection.

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A portrait by Roger Fry of Vanessa Bell, painted at Fry's house Durbins during their brief but profound romance, will be on display. And two tender sketches by Duncan Grant of his lover David ‘Bunny’ Garnett.

Duncan Grant, Portrait of Vanessa Bell, c.1917-18, Private CollectionDuncan Grant, Portrait of Vanessa Bell, c.1917-18, Private Collection
Duncan Grant, Portrait of Vanessa Bell, c.1917-18, Private Collection

This exhibition coincides with the reopening of the dining room following a 12-month closure. This much-loved room has undergone deep cleaning and preventative conservation and is now ready to welcome visitors again. Without any regular public funding the charity relies on private donations and ticket income to fund the annual conservation programme that protects this cultural treasure in Sussex for the future.

Admission to ‘The Faces of Bloomsbury’ is included with the purchase of a house ticket, providing visitors with the opportunity to explore Charleston's rich history and artistic heritage in its entirety.

For more information and ticket bookings, visit

The organisation presents a dynamic year-round programme of exhibitions, events and festivals at Charleston in West Firle, Lewes.

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