Exhibition detailing the 'lifes, loves and works' of the influential Bloomsbury Group to debut at Sheffield's Millennium Gallery

An exhibition bringing together over 140 paintings, sculptures, works on paper and more of the influential Bloomsbury Group is set to debut at a Sheffield art gallery.

Thursday, 4th November 2021, 1:45 pm

Beyond Bloomsbury: Life, Love and Legacy is set to open at the Millennium Gallery on November 25, and will chronicle the ‘lives, loves and work’ of the extraordinary collective of writers, artists and thinkers who had a profound impact on British art and literature.

The exhibition, which is set to run until February 13, 2022, has been curated through a partnership between Sheffield Museums, York Museums Trust and the National Portrait Gallery

Kirstie Hamilton, Director of Programmes at Sheffield Museums said: “The story of the Bloomsbury Group’s creative achievements and the relationships they shared during the first half of the 20th century remains vivid, vital and compelling almost a century later. We’re delighted to be working with the National Portrait Gallery and York Museums Trust to explore the lives and achievements of those at the Group’s heart and the remarkable figures around them.”

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William Roberts, No! No! Roger, Cézanne Did Not Use It, 1934 © Estate of John David Roberts. Photo credit Sheffield Museums

Dr Nicholas Cullinan, Director, National Portrait Gallery, London added: “We are delighted to be partnering with our colleagues in Sheffield and York to create this once in a generation opportunity to see some of the nation’s best-loved portraits exhibited together outside of London. Through all our projects and partnerships we hope to be able to share our Collection with new and different audiences across the UK, some of whom may not have had the opportunity to visit the Gallery in London.”

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Beyond Bloomsbury brings together over 140 paintings, sculpture, works on paper and supporting material to celebrate the Group’s key figures, including writer and feminist pioneer Virginia Woolf and her sister, painter Vanessa Bell.

Alongside these more familiar narratives, the exhibition also shines a timely spotlight on their often overlooked peers, as well as reflecting on the Group’s important place in queer art history.

Lady Ottoline Morrel, Simon Bussy; Vanessa Bell; Duncan Grant, 1922 © National Portrait Gallery, London

The Bloomsbury Group was formed in London’s Bloomsbury District at the start of the 20th century, united by their liberal attitudes and desire to challenge conventions.

Gathering together to share and debate ideas and discuss each other’s creative activities, they developed into a complex network of association, friendship and love.

Amongst the romantic relationships they formed, many were between same-sex partners, challenging the societal norms of the time.

George Charles Beresford, Virginia Woolf, 1902 © National Portrait Gallery, London

Most of the portraits and wider representations featured in the exhibition are informal and intimate, and were often made as tokens of friendship or love – when displayed together they bring to life an intensely creative group of people who were passionate about their work and each other.

Primarily drawn from the collection of the National Portrait Gallery and enhanced with works from the collections of Sheffield Museums, York Museums Trust and a range of key loans, Beyond Bloomsbury will include paintings by Vanessa Bell, Dora Carrington, Roger Fry and Duncan Grant, sculpture by Marcel Gimmond and Stephen Tomlin, and drawings and photographs by Cecil Beaton, George Charles Beresford, Lady Ottoline Morrell and John Nash.

Becky Gee, Curator of Fine Art at York Museums Trust said:"The exhibition will allow us to celebrate the LGBTQ+ relationships of the Group and explore these histories in our own collections.”

Entry to the exhibition is free, and for more information please visit: https://www.museums-sheffield.org.uk/

Gwen Raverat, John Maynard Keynes, Baron Keynes, circa 1908 © National Portrait Gallery, London
Sir Matthew Smith, Angelica Garnett, circa 1957 © the Estate of Sir Matthew Bracy Smith
Vanessa Bell, Roger Fry, 1912 © estate of Vanessa Bell courtesy of Henrietta Garnett; National Portrait Gallery, London
Roger Fry, Portrait of Edith Sitwell, 1918 © Sheffield Museums