by Scholes, Robert
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Vanessa Bell (1879 - 1961)
Vanessa Stephen was the elder sister of Virginia, who married Leonard Woolf. Their father, Leslie Stephen was a prominent Victorian man of letters. When she was seventeen, Vanessa began to take drawing classes. She entered the painting school of Royal Academy Schools in 1901. In 1907, Vanessa married Clive Bell, the art critic who helped Roger Fry set up the first post-impressionist show in London in 1910. During her marriage, Vanessa had an affair with Roger Fry. She and Bell had two children, Julian and Quentin. Julian died in the Spanish Civil War in the thirties. She had a third child, Angelica, with the artist Duncan Grant, with whom she lived the last part of her life. All these people remained friends. She was at the center of the Bloomsbury Group.
As a painter, she was deeply influenced by the post-impressionists, as was Duncan Grant. She did design work for the Omega Workshops and illustrated or designed covers for many of her sister's books. Her work was first noticed by The New Age in November 1912 NA 12.3:67. A lot of her earlier work was lost in a bombing raid.