Books by Sarah Bird Wright

Released: Nov. 1, 1999

A collective biography of painters, art critics, and writers who evolved from a tight-knit company of Cambridge friends to form the Bloomsbury group—with a particular, generally pedestrian, focus on their visits to France between 1910 and 1940. France suffused the Bloomsbury group in several ways: through the assimilation of French artistic trends in Bloomsbury art, through the more forthright promotion of French culture in England by Bloomsbury figures, through the group's literary translations. Lured by the warmth and bright colors of Provence, Bloomsbury artists created numerous studies of beaches, bathers, landscapes, and harbor scenes. Vanessa Bell's and Duncan Grant's paintings clearly parallel the art of such French masters as CÇzanne and Derain. The Parisian scene offered the group a chance to mingle with the European cultural elite, including Gide, Picasso, Matisse, Russian artists Larionov and Goncharova, and Ballet Russe founder Diaghilev. Among the Bloomsbury contributions to the advancement of French culture: Duncan Grant was invited by Jacques Copeau to design costumes for his theatrical productions; Roger Fry organized post-impressionist exhibitions in London and lectured on CÇzanne; Clive Bell was made Chevalier of the Legion d'Honneur for his efforts on behalf of French art abroad. In addition, Fry became the first English translator of MallarmÇ, whose work was crucial to the appreciation of symbolist poetry in England. Conversely, Charles Mauron's translations of the most eminent Bloomsbury writers, Virginia Woolf and E.M. Forster, introduced English literature to the French reading public. Though Anglo-French cultural relations are aptly rendered in the chapters on literary translations and creative interchange between French and English painters, insignificant issues predominate. Too many dates, places, itineraries, and gastronomical preferences make for a drabness broken only by the odd sexual liaison. (211 halftones, 1 map, 14 color illus.) Read full book review >