The Memoir Club
© estate of Vanessa Bell courtesy of Henrietta Garnett
The Memoir Club
by Vanessa Bell (née Stephen)
oil on canvas, circa 1943
24 in. x 32 1/8 in. (608 mm x 816 mm)
Purchased with help from the Dame Helen Gardner Bequest, 2005
Artistback to top
- Vanessa Bell (née Stephen) (1879-1961), Painter; sister of Virginia Woolf. Artist associated with 14 portraits, Sitter in 18 portraits.
Sittersback to top
- (Arthur) Clive Heward Bell (1881-1964), Art critic. Sitter in 29 portraits.
- Quentin Claudian Stephen Bell (1910-1996), Artist and writer; son of Clive and Vanessa Bell. Sitter in 6 portraits.
- Vanessa Bell (née Stephen) (1879-1961), Painter; sister of Virginia Woolf. Sitter in 18 portraits, Artist associated with 14 portraits.
- Edward Morgan ('E.M.') Forster (1879-1970), Novelist. Sitter in 44 portraits.
- David Garnett (1892-1981), Writer. Sitter in 6 portraits.
- Duncan Grant (1885-1978), Artist. Sitter associated with 29 portraits, Artist of 9 portraits.
- John Maynard Keynes, Baron Keynes (1883-1946), Economist. Sitter in 26 portraits.
- Lydia Lopokova (Lady Keynes) (1892-1981), Ballet dancer; wife of Baron Keynes. Sitter in 20 portraits.
- Sir Desmond MacCarthy (1877-1952), Writer and critic. Sitter in 23 portraits.
- Mary ('Molly') MacCarthy (née Warre-Cornish), Lady MacCarthy (1882-1953), Writer; wife of Sir Desmond MacCarthy. Sitter in 11 portraits.
- Leonard Sidney Woolf (1880-1969), Writer and publisher. Sitter in 9 portraits.
This portraitback to top
The Memoir Club first met in 1920, some fifteen years after the original evening gatherings of friends at 46 Gordon Square which are usually taken to denote the beginning of Bloomsbury. It replaced the earlier Novel Club, which had met briefly in 1913. This portrait depicts eleven key figures associated with Bloomsbury, and is painted from mid-way through the life of the group. It depicts Duncan Grant, Leonard Woolf, Vanessa Bell, Clive Bell, David Garnett, Maynard and Lydia Keynes, Desmond and Molly MacCarthy, Quentin Bell and E.M. Forster. On the wall behind are painted portraits of past members of the group: Virginia Woolf by Duncan Grant, 1911; Lytton Strachey by Duncan Grant, 1913; and Roger Fry by Vanessa Bell, c.1933. It thus includes David Garnett and members of the younger generation, such as Quentin Bell, who were later admitted. Bell's own depicted presence in the painting suggests this is an imaginative evocation, rather than the depiction of an actual meeting. The club continued in an evolved state until Clive Bell's death in 1964.
Linked publicationsback to top
- Bell, Quentin; Nicholson, Virginia, Charleston : a Bloomsbury house and garden, 1997, p. 9
Events of 1943back to top
Current affairsThe War effort continues with women recruited to the Home Guard and Ernie Bevin introducing conscription of miners as coal output continues to flag.
There is panic when a new anti aircraft weapon is heard for the first time in London and 173 people die in the crush to enter an air-raid shelter at Bethnal Green tube station.
Art and scienceBarnes Wallis's bouncing bomb is used during Operation Chastise - the Dam busters Raid - to destroy three dams in the Ruhr area of Germany. The raid was considered a success, knocking out hydroelectric power, cutting off the water supply to industry and causing devastation through flooding. The operation also, however, cost the allies many lives, and the bouncing bomb was not used again.
InternationalThe invasion of Sicily is successful thanks to Operation Mincemeat, in which false documents were planted on the body of a dead airman to mislead Germany into thinking that the Allied target was Sardinia. The invasion led to the fall of Mussolini and Italy joining the Allies.
42,000 German civilians are killed in a firestorm in Hamburg caused by the Allied bombing in Operation Gomorrah.
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On display in Room 31 at the National Portrait Gallery
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