A Gift for Admiration: Further Memoirs

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Farrar Straus & Giroux, 1998 - Biography & Autobiography - 198 pages
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In A Gift for Admiration, James Lord continues his series of enthralling, revealing, and sensitively wrought memoirs with a group of intimate portraits of some of this century's most successful promoters of the arts. He looks at Henry McIlhenny, an extravagant and generous heir who devoted himself to his collection of nineteenth-century French paintings, to pleasure, and to the indulgence of his friends in a Jamesian milieu that has since disappeared: he remembers Isabel Rawsthorne, the alcoholic, dissipated beauty whose dour paintings were unremarkable next to the edgy portraits that Francis Bacon and Alberto Giacometti made of her: he describes Peggy Guggenheim's Venice home, where he got to know the great collector and promoter of modern art in the shrine she had built to her passion. Lord also traces the fates of Sonia Orwell and Peter Watson, supporters of Cyril Connolly's historic literary review, Horizon, and Ethel Bliss Platt, whose home in New Jersey was resplendent with Italian art, but who probably derived even more pleasure from her unconventional garden -- a meadow of wildflowers. Lord evokes these cultured, privileged, and art-filled lives with a deft touch, and from a rare perspective: that of friend and confidant. His memories are recounted with incisive wit, compassion, and a rare ability to get to the germ of personalities.

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