By Julie Thomson
Chances are that if you’ve seen A Room of One’s Own: The Bloomsbury Artists in American Collections you noticed Duncan Grant’s Cymbal Player for the Queen Mary, 1937. Grant’s painting was originally commissioned to decorate the ocean liner the Queen Mary (a larger, more powerful and more successful ocean liner than the preceding Titanic). Grant worked on designs for murals, textiles and carpets for the Queen Mary but, towards the end of the project, his work was rejected.
While never fully realized in real life, one can glimpse Grant’s vision for the Queen Mary in A Room of One’s Own at the Nasher Museum, through four works by Grant: Cymbal Player, Design for “The Sheaf,” a carpet and a roll of cotton velveteen in a case that also contains pottery by the Omega Workshops.
Today technology allows for even more possibilities of Grant’s vision. A website devoted to the Queen Mary, found by one of our docents, gathers together details about the commission, offering a digital recreation of the Queen Mary’s rooms with Grant’s work. As the website discusses in greater detail, originally Grant’s Cymbal Player for the Queen Mary was part of a larger mural, a complete image of which is also shown on this website.
With these images in mind, one can stand in the Nasher Museum’s galleries and imagine an environment even more dramatic than the one skillfully evoked by the exhibition installation.