Paul Roche Reclining (1945) by Duncan Grant
Not to be confused with Hugh Grant, Duncan Grant (1885-1978) was a member of the famed Bloomsbury Group and an accomplished painter, interior designer and costume and stage set designer. When he was 28-years-old, he co-founded the Omega Workshops with fellow Bloomsbury Group figure Roger Fry. They had a huge influence on the British design world.
He was hired to decorate the interiors of the great ocean liner, the Queen Mary. Grant submitted his designs and was paid for his work. His designs were never used. Although he was offered no explanation, it was understood that his work was considered way too avant-garde for their era.
Grant was a handsome, kind and charming person. His many lovers included Bloomsbury Group members: psychoanalyst Adrian Stephen, economist/philosopher Maynard Keynes, and writer David Garnett, as well as his cousin Lytton Strachey. He was openly gay, but he managed to father painter Bloomsbury Group’s Vanessa Bell’s daughter Angelica, and lived with the Bell family for many years at their estate, Charleston Farm.
Angelica Bell grew up believing that Clive Bell was her father; she had his surname and he acted as her father. She had affairs with two of Grant’s lovers, Russian painter George Bergen and Garnett, whom she married, unaware that her husband had been her father’s lover. I’m not making this stuff up.
In 1994, Angelica Bell donated thousands of drawings by Grant and Vanessa Bell to The Charleston Trust, which is now open to the public. Grant’s major works hang in London’s Tate Gallery and National Portrait Gallery. They are quite well hung.
In Grant’s later years, he was cared for at Charleston by his lover, poet Paul Roche (1916–2007), whom he had known since the 1940s. In the late 1950s, when Grant was commissioned to decorate the Russell Chantry in Lincoln Cathedral, he used the young, beautiful, blond Roche as the model for the face and body of Christ. You can see it there.
Grant left this world while in Roche’s care in 1978.