STEPHEN TOMLIN (1901-1937)
Bronze Head of Duncan Grant (1885-1978)
THE EDITION PHOTOGRAPHED AT CHARLESTON FARMHOUSE
THE ORIGINAL BRONZE
Stephen Tomlin (1901-1937)
Duncan Grant LG (1885-1978)
Bronze. Commissioned in 1924.
One of an edition of only two known to have been cast in 1925 at Giovanni Fiorini’s Foundry in Battersea; this one for David Garnett (sold by Abbott and Holder Ltd to the Charleston Trust), and the other for Maynard Keynes (NPG 6889). The original plaster belonged to Eddy Sackville West. Size excl. base: 14.5 x 9 x 11.5 inches.
Provenance: The artist to David (Bunny) Garnett (1892-1981); Richard Garnett (1923-2013); The Bloomsbury Workshop; Sir Christopher Ondaatje.
Literature: Letter from Tomlin to Maynard Keynes, March 1925, announcing two castings in bronze at £40 each. (Keynes Papers, British Library); Oliver Garnett, The Sculpture of Stephen Tomlin, Unpublished Thesis, 1979 (Ill. figs 42-45); Frances Spalding, Duncan Grant, 1998, p.253 ‘… In 1924 Duncan was persuaded, by Maynard and Bunny who paid the cost, to sit for Tomlin for a bust portrait…’.
Stephen Tomlin’s heads of Lytton Strachey (1929, Tate Britain N04616) and Virginia Woolf (1931, NPG 3882) are among the best known icons of ‘Bloomsbury’, that mesmeric collection of artists, writers and their entourages whose literary, artistic and sexual lives continue to fascinate a Following. The busts of Strachey and Woolf brilliantly suggest the fastidious and scrutinous essence of their subjects; sensual they are not. That significant ingredient of the Bloomsbury equation was best expressed by its painters, and in particular by Grant. This bust of him was inspired, commissioned and executed by men with whom over the previous fifteen years he had had love affairs; Maynard Keynes and Bunny Garnett, who paid for it, Angus Davidson and Tomlin himself. The powerful sensuality of Grant’s head contrasts tellingly with the steely fragility of Woolf and the aloof sagacity of Strachey. To see the three in conjunction again at Charleston Farmhouse will be to face the defining Bloomsbury triumvirate.
NOTE: Michael Bloch and Susan Fox have written and published the first biography of Tomlin. For more information and to buy a copy CLICK HERE.