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The Ashtray

Nicholas Penny, 4 June 1981

The Study and Criticism of Italian Sculpture 
by John Pope-Hennessy.
Princeton, 270 pp., £25.10, March 1981, 0 691 03967 4
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... a circular bronze relief of the Virgin and Child in use as an ashtray.’ The narrator is Sir John Pope-Hennessy and his nocturnal encounter was with one of the most hawk-eyed art-dealers in Europe. ‘ “Was it double-sided?” I asked him. “Yes,” he replied, he thought it was. Next day it was brought to my office …’ And there ...

Geraniums and the River

Nicholas Penny, 20 March 1986

The Painting of Modern Life: Paris in the Art of Manet and his Followers 
by T.J. Clark.
Thames and Hudson, 338 pp., £18, April 1985, 0 500 23417 5
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Cellini 
by John Pope-Hennessy.
Macmillan, 324 pp., £85, October 1985, 0 333 40485 8
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Alessandro Algardi 
by Jennifer Montagu.
Yale in association with the J. Paul Getty Trust, 487 pp., £65, May 1985, 0 300 03173 4
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... been better had the artists been more troubled about the new boulevards or less happy at home. John Pope-Hennessy retells in gracious English the tales of stabbing and intrigue which Benvenuto Cellini himself told in vigorous Italian. He adds some facts about sodomy in 16th-century Italy. And he provides an appreciative commentary on such sensational ...

Hink Tank

Nicholas Penny, 19 July 1984

The Gymnasium of the Mind: The Journals of Roger Hinks 1933-1963 
edited by John Goldsmith.
Michael Russell, 287 pp., £10.95, May 1984, 0 85955 096 6
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... some fellow inhabitants of privileged and artistic society the pleasure may not be unmixed. Sir John Pope-Hennessy testifies that Roger was a ‘much kinder, more liberal, more positive person that the diary suggests’. That such virtues were valued by Hinks, even if rarely displayed in his writings, may perhaps be deduced from the exclamations he ...

Martinis with the Bellinis

Mary Beard, 31 July 1997

The Roy Strong Diaries 1967-87 
Weidenfeld, 461 pp., £20, May 1997, 0 297 81841 4Show More
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... Strong’s own account and the version given by his predecessor, the terrifying and not-much-loved John Pope-Hennessy, in his autobiography, Learning to Look. Both directors describe in some detail the office arrangement at the start of Strong’s appointment in 1974. Strong himself bemoans the primitiveness of it all: not just ‘no direct telephone to ...

Joining the Gang

Nicholas Penny: Anthony Blunt, 29 November 2001

Anthony Blunt: His Lives 
by Miranda Carter.
Macmillan, 590 pp., £20, November 2001, 0 333 63350 4
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... the 1930s. No doubt he was moved by the hunger marches, certainly he was stirred by the death of John Cornford, appalled by Fascism, and disturbed by the plight of Jewish scholars, but what remains clear from her account is that Blunt took little serious interest in politics and had very little knowledge of, or exposure to, the unemployed or oppressed – or ...

We are all Scots here

Linda Colley: Scotland and Empire, 12 December 2002

The Scottish Empire 
by Michael Fry.
Tuckwell/Birlinn, 580 pp., £16.99, November 2002, 9781841582597
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... Scottish and Chinese forms of education, foiling in the process the ‘English Governor, Sir John Pope Hennessy, who wanted to impose a Western curriculum’. But Pope Hennessy was an Irish Catholic, who got into trouble first in Barbados and then in Hong Kong for what was viewed as excessive sympathy with indigenous peoples. When he made his ceremonial ...

Diary

Nicholas Penny: Getting Rid of the Curators, 4 May 1989

... allowed itself to be used to provide publicity for Sothebys, who staged a preview there of Elton John’s collection of bric-à-brac; for the Sock Shop and for Burberrys. ‘We,’ Lord Armstrong told the Lords in defence of these arrangements, ‘are the National Museum of contemporary design. We take pride in having artefacts of contemporary design in ...

Hm, hm and that was all

Rosemary Hill: Queen Mary, 6 December 2018

The Quest for Queen Mary 
by James Pope-Hennessy, edited by Hugo Vickers.
Zuleika, 335 pp., £25, September 2018, 978 1 9997770 3 6
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... like Queen Mary’ was to indicate that a terminal blight had been cast over the occasion. James Pope-Hennessy, born in 1916, belonged to that generation. He came from a distinguished Catholic and literary family and was a friend of many of his most interesting contemporaries, Cecil Beaton and James Lees-Milne among them. He loved female company, was ‘much ...

Tony, Ray and the Duchess

Alan Bell, 21 May 1981

A Lonely Business: A Self-Portrait of James Pope-Hennessy 
edited by Peter Quennell.
Weidenfeld, 278 pp., £12.50, April 1981, 0 297 77918 4
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... James Pope-Hennessy, who was murdered in 1974 when he was 58, will be remembered for several of his books, among them London Fabric, an architectural study made in the nick of time in 1939, a young man’s book which has worn well; the two volumes of his life of Monckton Milnes, Lord Houghton; Verandah of 1964, with its autobiographical element added to family and colonial history; and the excellent Queen Mary (1959), an unusually sympathetic study ...

Gestures of Embrace

Nicholas Penny, 27 October 1988

Rembrandt’s Enterprise: The Studio and the Market 
by Svetlana Alpers.
Thames and Hudson, 160 pp., £20, May 1988, 0 226 01514 9
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The Light of Early Italian Painting 
by Paul Hills.
Yale, 160 pp., £20, March 1987, 0 300 03617 5
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Italian Paintings in the Robert Lehman Collection 
by John Pope-Hennessy.
Metropolitan Museum and Princeton, 331 pp., £50, December 1987, 0 87099 479 4
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... In the first chapter of Rembrandt’s Enterprise, Professor Alpers devotes much attention to a small etching of 1655. This, she says, depicts a goldsmith in his shop just putting the finishing touches to a figural group representing a woman (Charity, or Caritas) with two children. While his right hand works with a hammer to fasten the metal to its base, the artist lovingly embraces the women with a huge left hand ...

Educating Georgie

E.S. Turner, 6 December 1984

Matriarch: Queen Mary and the House of Windsor 
by Anne Edwards.
Hodder, 462 pp., £12.95, September 1984, 0 340 24465 8
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... that identifies Prince Eddy, the Queen’s first fiancé, as Jack the Ripper? Indeed it can. James Pope-Hennessy did not find room to discuss this matter in his 685-page life of Queen Mary published in 1959, possibly because the hue and cry after Prince Eddy had not then gained its full impetus, possibly for other reasons. What can Anne Edwards tell us about ...

Berenson’s Elixir

Simon Schama, 1 May 1980

Bernard Berenson: The Making of a Connoisseur 
by Ernest Samuels.
Harvard, 477 pp., £9.50, June 1979, 0 674 06775 4
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Being Bernard Berenson 
by Meryle Secrest.
Weidenfeld, 473 pp., £8.50, January 1980, 0 297 77564 2
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... document the biography. Once the book appeared, it was given short shrift in eminent quarters. Sir John Pope-Hennessy, writing in the life-enhancing Now!, described it as ‘tawdry’, while working up a tremendous lather of indignation at the impertinence of the whole enterprise. Professor Sidney Freedberg availed himself of the Boston Globe to lay about ...

Heliotrope

John Sutherland, 3 December 1992

Robert Louis Stevenson: Dreams of Exile 
by Ian Bell.
Mainstream, 295 pp., £14.99, November 1992, 1 85158 457 9
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... wrote part of it down, the fragment of Weir of Hermiston. Ian Bell – like Jenni Calder and James Pope-Hennessy – has written a biography as readable as a romance. Not that Bell surrenders anything to the romantic stereotypes that cluster round RLS. On the dark pockets of Stevenson’s life, he takes a very sober line. In reaction to Balfour’s ‘barley ...

Lurching up to bed with the champion of Cubism

Nicholas Penny: Douglas Cooper, 20 January 2000

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice: Picasso, Provence and Douglas Cooper 
by John Richardson.
Cape, 320 pp., £20, November 1999, 0 224 05056 7
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... John Richardson is one of those gossips who knows – or at least knows about – everyone. For example (on page 118, to be precise), Marie-Laure (1), Maurice Bischoffsheim (2), the Comtesse de Chevigné (3), the Duchesse de Guermantes (4), the Marquis de Sade (5), Jean Cocteau (6), the Vicomte de Noailles (7), an anonymous gym instructor (8), Igor Markevitch (9), Diaghilev (10), Nijinsky (11), Maurice Gendron (12): I was the daughter of 2, an immensely rich Belgian banker, and the granddaughter of 3, who was said to be the model for 4, and was also – would you believe it? – the great-great-granddaughter of 5 ...

Rose’s Rex

David Cannadine, 15 September 1983

King George V 
by Kenneth Rose.
Weidenfeld, 514 pp., £12.95, July 1983, 0 297 78245 2
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... England’ received the very epitome of grave, tasteful and well-regarded biography. John Gore chronicled the inner man, his tastes, hobbies and friendships; and Harold Nicolson described his public life and times. Nicolson’s book in particular did as much to confirm George’s reputation as a good king as it did to confirm his own reputation ...

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