Roger Fry (1866–1934) was a well-known art critic and member of the Bloomsbury Group.
Art historian Lord Kenneth Clark said of Fry: "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."
In this short essay, first published in 1924 and originally presented to the British Psychological Society, Fry outlines his theory of an "aesthetic emotion" and explains his belief that the Freudian psychoanalytic approach to the understanding of art is wrong.
The text includes a woodcut self-portrait of Roger Fry and a contemporary review of the essay.
The cover features the original image by Vanessa Bell prepared for the Hogarth Essays series.
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Roger Eliot Fry (1866–1934) was an English artist and art critic, and a member of the Bloomsbury Group. Establishing his reputation as a scholar of the Old Masters, he became an advocate of more recent developments in French painting, to which he gave the name Post-Impressionism. He was the first figure to raise public awareness of modern art in Britain, and emphasized the formal properties of paintings over the "associated ideas" conjured in the viewer by their representational content. Born in London, the son of the judge Edward Fry, he grew up in a wealthy Quaker family in Highgate. Fry was educated at Clifton College and King's College, Cambridge, where he was a member of the Cambridge Apostles. After taking a first in the Natural Science tripos, he went to Paris and then Italy to study art. Eventually he specialised in landscape painting.
In 1896, he married artist Helen Coombe and they subsequently had two children, Pamela and Julian. Helen soon became seriously mentally ill, and in 1910 was committed to a mental institution, where she remained for the rest of her life. Fry took over the care of their children with the help of his sister, Joan Fry. That same year, Fry met the artists Vanessa Bell and her husband Clive Bell, and it was through them that he was introduced to the Bloomsbury Group. Vanessa's sister, the author Virginia Woolf later wrote in her biography of Fry that "He had more knowledge and experience than the rest of us put together". The artist William Rothenstein, however, observed around the same time that he considered Fry "a bit crazy".
In 1911, Fry began an affair with Vanessa Bell, who was then experiencing a difficult recovery from the birth of her son Quentin. Fry offered her the tenderness and care she felt was lacking from her husband. They remained lifelong close friends, even though Fry's heart was broken in 1913 when Vanessa fell in love with Duncan Grant and decided to live permanently with him.
Fry too found happiness with Helen Maitland Anrep. She became his emotional anchor for the rest of his life, although they never married (she too had had an unhappy first marriage, to the mosaicist Boris Anrep).
Fry died very unexpectedly after a fall at his home in London. His death caused great sorrow among the members of the Bloomsbury Group, who loved him for his generosity and warmth.
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