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clive bell
(1881 - 1964)



Lytton Strachey and Clive Bell
Tate Archive

Biography

  • British art critic
  • Married to artist Vanessa Bell
  • Born September 16, 1881
  • Died September 18, 1964

Clive Bell had a start in life most of us can only dream of. Born into a rich family, he was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge. He became an influential art critic and worked closely with Roger Fry on the organisation of the two Post-Impressionist exhibitions of 1910 and 1912. In 1914, he coined the term significant form in his book, Art.

He married Vanessa Stephen in 1907 and they had two children, Julian and Quentin. Julian fought and died in the Spanish Civil War in 1937. By World War I their marriage was over. Vanessa had begun a lifelong relationship with bi-sexual Duncan Grant and Clive had a number of liaisons with other women such as Mary Hutchinson. However, Clive and Vanessa never officially separated or divorced: not only did they keep visiting each other regularly, they also sometimes spent holidays together and paid "family" visits to Clive's parents. Clive lived in London but often spent long stretches of time at the idyllic farmhouse of Charleston, where Vanessa lived with Duncan and their (Clive's, Vanessa's and Duncan's) three children. He fully supported her wish to have a child by Duncan and allowed this daughter, Angelica, to bear his last name.

In 1939, he became a permanent resident at Charleston.


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