Quentin Bell ceramics in sale

More than a dozen striking chargers by accomplished artist Quentin Bell – nephew of Virginia Woolf – will come to auction this week in a Surrey saleroom.

As the son of Clive and Vanessa Bell, and the nephew of Virginia Woolf, Quentin Bell (1910-96) proved to be one of the very last links with the Bloomsbury Group. A collection of his striking and singular ceramics, created for the celebrated Fulham Pottery, will be offered at in Ewbank’s Interiors & Modern Design auction on January 26.

A collection of ceramics by Quentin Bell

Bell inherited his family’s artistic talents and went on to establish his own reputation, not only as an artist but also as an academic and author, lecturing in fine art at Durham University in the 1950s before being appointed Professor of Fine Art at the University of Leeds in 1959, then Slade Professor of Fine Art at Oxford University five years later. He was also appointed Ferens Professor of Fine Art at Hull University and Professor of Art History and Theory at Sussex University.

His biography of Virginia Woolf won both the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and the Duff Cooper Prize, as well as becoming the Yorkshire Post Book of the Year in 1972.

'Ballet Dancer' ceramic charger by Quentin Bell

Quentin Bell was also an important figure in the later history of the Fulham Pottery, an eminent manufactory established in 1672 that was the earliest documented maker of stoneware and a pioneer of salt-glazed pottery. Fulham made a new name for itself as a studio pottery, putting out pieces by the likes of Bell and Philip Sutton in the 1980s.

Ewbank’s have more than a dozen earthenware chargers on offer in the auction, each with naïve and whimsical portraits of women animals or geometric patterns, all produced in an energetic, free-flowing and lively style imbued with vibrant colour contrasts – a style influenced by Bell’s early associations with the Bloomsbury Group’s Omega Workshop.

A 'Butterfly' ceramic charger by artist Quentin Bell

Six of the chargers are estimated at £300-500 each, another five at £200-300, and two at £150-200. All are signed and inscribed to the reverse for Bell and the pottery. Some also carry stamps for the pottery and the artist.

“Any one of these chargers would make an attractive and impressive addition to an interior,” said partner Andrew Ewbank. “The artistry of Quentin Bell, together with the clear influence of the Bloomsbury Group through the Omega Workshop, and the extremely close associations between the artist and those eminent literary and artistic figures, make these pieces even more desirable.”