Duncan and Vanessa

Duncan Grant

Duncan and Vanessa tells the true story of the painters, Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell. Vanessa was an accomplished painter and the sister of famous novelist, Virginia Woolf. In 1911, when she was thirty-two years old, married and the mother of two small boys, Vanessa Bell became co-director of the interior design studio, the Omega Workshop along with the painter, Duncan Grant. Although he was a homosexual, they fell deeply in love and began a relationship which would last over 50 years. Together, they hobnobbed with Picasso and Matisse, created great works of art and an artist commune in Charleston, Sussex, which is today a museum. Duncan refused induction in World War I and Vanessa helped him win a court case which would have sent him to jail.

Vanessa Bell

They had a daughter, Angelica in 1918. The great conflict of their Bohemian lives was Duncan’s inability to give up his homosexual lovers and commit fully to Vanessa. His lover, David Garnett, nicknamed Bunny, who would later write the book, Aspects of Love , which was made into a musical by Andrew Lloyd Weber, was furious at Duncan for rejecting him in favor of Vanessa. He vowed at Angelica’s birth he would wait twenty years and marry her, which he did. Angelica was not aware that Duncan was her real father or that Bunny had been his lover. When he was in his 70’s, Duncan began a relationship with a young Catholic priest named Paul Roche.He convinced Paul to leave the priesthood, only to have Paul later reject him for a woman. In the end, in the last years of their lives, Duncan returned to Vanessa and begged her to take him back. Although deeply hurt, and recovering from a mastectomy, she welcomed him back and affirmed her undying love for him.