Original sketch for the dust jacket design of The Years.

BELL Vanessa (1937.)


Available to view at our Curzon Street shop.

“What she provided was a kind of ‘visual underscoring’… feminine, imaginative, delicate, modern but domestic.”

Pen and ink preliminary sketch for the dust-jacket of The Years. Framed and mounted. 

Sheet size: 195 x 130mm. Frame: 320 x 250mm.

A preliminary sketch by Vanessa Bell of a dust jacket design for her sister's novel The Years, which was ultimately published by the Hogarth Press. This sketch differs only in small degrees to the final design which had cleaner lines and is overall less three dimensional in its effect.   

Bell's contribution to the Hogarth Press was extensive, not only illustrating books and designing dust jackets for Virginia Woolf but also many of the other authors published by the Press. This “helped to create a certain house style” and certainly for Woolf's novels a cohesiveness which is charming. 

Vanessa Bell in a letter to John Lehmann admitted that she usually had no idea about the contents of the book before she designed the cover, and would base a design entirely on the title and suggestions from the Woolfs. “Only very rarely would the covers represent the contents (like the portrait of Roger Fry on the cover of the biography). [...] When she did provide a ‘literal’ cover – a lighthouse, some waves, or stage-curtains for Between the Acts – they were impressionistic and decorative rather than explanatory. What she provided was a kind of ‘visual underscoring’ which gave the books a sympathetic atmosphere – feminine, imaginative, delicate, modern but domestic.” 

Stock Code: 231124

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