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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 March 2007, 13:23 GMT 14:23 UK
Farmhouse reclaims artist's work
Iceland Poppies has been called one of Bell's finest works

A rare painting by a Bloomsbury artist is being brought back to the Sussex farmhouse that she made her home.

Iceland Poppies is one of the few remaining early works by Vanessa Bell.

Most were destroyed in London's wartime blitz, but this painting was brought to Charleston in the 1930s by Vanessa Bell, the sister of Virginia Woolf.

Passed to her daughter after her death, it was later bought by a collector. It has now been bought by the Charleston Trust for 200,000.

The British post-impressionist moved to Sussex from London in 1916 with her lover and fellow artist Duncan Grant.

She filled the farmhouse near Lewes with mural paintings, stencilled wallpaper, and painted furniture, and lived there until she died in 1961.

The Art Fund, which put 20,000 towards the purchase, called Vanessa Bell "one of the most significant female artists of the early 20th Century", and described Iceland Poppies as one of her finest works.

It's one of the most important paintings in the house
Dr Wendy Hitchmough

The painting, created in 1908/09, shows three poppies, two white and one red, in the foreground, with three vessels in the background.

It has been described by the Art Fund as having a "simplicity of composition and restrained use of colour" that shows "a critical shift between a more conventional approach and a demonstration of new Modernist values".

Dr Wendy Hitchmough, curator of the Charleston Trust, said: "It's one of the most important paintings in the house."

120,000 came from the Heritage Lottery Fund which includes backing for educational projects linked to the painting.

Iceland Poppies will be part of a touring exhibition in Newcastle and Norwich, before being brought to Charleston in late June.


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