The Courtauld is delighted to announce the gift of a portrait drawing by Duncan Grant, bequeathed by the Portuguese poet Alberto de Lacerda (1928-2007) in memory of Edith Sitwell and Arthur Waley. One of the finest poets of his generation, Lacerda moved to London in 1951 where he earned the friendship and admiration of literary figures such as Sitwell and Waley, who translated his first collection of poems, 77 Poems. Lacerda was also an art collector and acquired this large informal drawing from the Bloomsbury Workshop, its provenance going back to the estate of Duncan Grant.

The quickly sketched pencil drawing shows an elegant lady in an interior, which is only sparsely described. As Duncan Grant signed the work on the lower right the attribution of the work is undisputed. The sitter’s identity, however, presents a challenge and is currently being researched. The drawing came into the collection as a portrait of the famous writer Virginia Woolf. Whilst the identification is plausible, there might be even closer facial similarities to Woolf’s sister, the painter Vanessa Bell. Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell started working together in 1910, and by 1916 their relationship evolved into love, despite Duncan Grant’s homosexuality. The portrait makes a fine and purposeful addition to The Courtauld’s outstanding collection of works by members of the Bloomsbury Group.

Dr Stephanie Buck ,Curator of Drawings


Duncan Grant, Portrait of Virginia Woolf or Vanessa Bell, c. 1916-18, detail