Roger Fry

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Self-portrait, 1928

Roger Eliot Fry (born December 14, 1866 in London , † September 9, 1934 there ) was a British painter and art critic . With the planned art exhibition Manet and the Post-Impressionists in 1910, he coined the term post-impressionism and is considered an important precursor of Vorticism . His influence on the Bloomsbury Group , which he had joined in 1910, was significant .

Live and act

Roger Fry with his wife Helen Coombe, photo around 1897
A room in the Second Post-Impressionist Exhibition (Matisse room), 1912
Winter landscape, 1914
Vue de Cassis , 1925

The son of judge Edward Fry grew up in a wealthy Quaker family in London. After attending Clifton College, he studied at King's College , Cambridge , where he was accepted by the Cambridge Apostles . After his first exams, which he passed in natural sciences in 1887 and 1888, he traveled to Italy in 1891 to study the old masters of Italian art and in 1892 took painting lessons at the Académie Julian in Paris. After further trips to Italy, he specialized in the art of the Renaissance and gave lectures in Cambridge. The acquaintance with the American art historian and Renaissance connoisseur Bernard Berenson took place at this time.

Fry met his fellow artistic student Helen Coombe (1864-1937) and married her in 1896. When shortly thereafter she showed symptoms of a mental illness, she came to a clinic in 1899, which she left after an improvement before she finally in 1910 was admitted to a home. Fry remained connected to her throughout his life and wrote her loving letters.

In 1903, Fry co-founded, alongside Berenson and others, The Burlington Magazine , a scientific journal for art and decoration published in London. From 1904 he was a curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York . In 1906 he discovered the works of Paul Cézanne during a stay in Paris and turned his interests to modern art. The following year he went back to England and represented the interests of the museum as a “European advisor”. In 1910 he was released after an argument with the museum's director , JP Morgan .

From November 1910, the exhibition Manet and the Post-Impressionists, organized by Fry, took place in the Grafton Galleries, London. The London audience felt shocked and provoked; the press also published absurd misjudgments. Despite these negative reactions, Fry organized a second post-impressionist exhibition in 1912, in which, in addition to contemporary British painting, mainly works by Henri Matisse , the Fauves, as well as Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque were exhibited. It was under the patronage of Lady Ottoline Morrell , with whom Fry had a fleeting love affair.

The fuss about the exhibition did not detract from his admiration for French modernism. On the contrary, it moved him to "turn his back on his real subject, the Old Masters, and devote himself entirely to his own painting and modern art".

In 1913, Fry founded Omega Workshops , a design workshop that included Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant from the Bloomsbury Group, which he had joined in 1910. He established himself as an art historian and art critic with various publications in the art field and continued to work as a painter. In 1933 he became Slade Professor of Fine Art at Cambridge, but died the following year in London after an accident at his home.


Portrait of Virginia Woolf , around 1917

On July 25, 1940, Virginia Woolf's biography of Roger Fry, the boyfriend she had known since the Bloomsbury period, appeared posthumously on July 25, 1940 , in the Hogarth Press in London , which she ran with her husband, Leonard Woolf .

The art historian Kenneth Clark praised Fry as "incomparably the greatest influence on taste since Ruskin ... in so far as taste can be changed by one man, it was changed by Roger Fry" ("incomparably greatest influence on taste since Ruskin ... when taste through." a man can be changed, he was changed by Roger Fry ”).

In May 2010 , the British organization English Heritage had a blue plaque put up in his memory at the house at Fitzroy Sqare No. 33 in the London borough of Bloomsbury , where the Omega Workshops were based .


  • Vision and Design (1920)
  • Transformations (1926)
  • Henri Matisse (1930)
  • French Art (1932)
  • Reflections on British Painting (1934)
  • Art and the Market: Roger Fry on Commerce in Art; Selected Writings , ed. And with an interpretation: Craufurd D. Goodwin. Ann Arbor, The Univ. of Michigan Press 1998, ISBN 0-472-10902-2

Secondary literature

Web links

Commons : Roger Fry  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Quoted from the Dictionary of Arthistorians web link
  2. Fry, Helen (Coombe) ,, accessed February 28, 2013
  3. ^ Fry, Roger ,, accessed February 26, 2013.
  4. ^ Francis Spalding: Love and Colors . In: Christine Frick-Gerke (ed.): Inspiration Bloomsbury. The Virginia Woolf Circle . Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2003, p. 78ff.
  5. Bernd Klüser, Katharina Hegewisch (Hrsg.): The art of the exhibition. A documentation of thirty exemplary art exhibitions of this century , Frankfurt a. M. / Leipzig 1991, p. 56
  6. ^ Francis Spalding: Love and Colors . In: Christine Frick-Gerke (ed.): Inspiration Bloomsbury. The Virginia Woolf Circle . Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2003, p. 83.
  7. Quoted from the Dictionary of Arthistorians web link
  8. ^ Blue Plaque for Bloomsbury Group Artist and Critic Roger Fry