Between 1910 and 1916, Vanessa Bell often wrote her friends and family, preferring to portray them in an informal setting. Portraits of Bell of this period are characterized by spontaneity, immediacy, a free stroke and the desire to catch the fleeting mood and state of mind of your model as accurately as possible.
Among the brilliant “portrait impromptu” of the artist can be identified “Portrait of Virginia Wolfe in a deck chair,” 1912. Bell writes his sister, deliberately minimizing the details. She deprives Wolf of even features. At the same time, she succeeds in surprisingly accurately
Leonard Woolf said: “It is impossible to portray Virginia more like yourself than in this portrait.” Created three years later by Vanessa Bell, “Portrait of David Garnet” was written in a completely different light. The naked figure of Garnet is placed here on a flat contrasting background. Here you will not find clear, rapid and sharp contours and bright color spots, as in “Portrait of Virginia Wolfe in a deckchair.”
The artist writes a young man like a boy, overgrown with a pink face and full body. Perhaps this image of Bell created Duncan Grant, who at about the same time wrote Garnet as a muscular, strong man.