SUMMER'S LEASE by John Rothenstein


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Summer's Lease is the first volume in Sir John Rothenstein's autobiography and it covers the years 1901 to 1938 when he became the eminent director of London's Tate Gallery. He is also of course well known for his basic works on British art and Manet and Turner in particular. This is the kind of meditative recollection in tranquillity at which the British excel: it is also grave in tone and graceful in manner. Sir John covers his childhood in Hampstead, happy if only dimly remembered; his schooling and early impressions, attitudes and conversion to Catholicism; his years at Oxford where his first faint interest in the visual arts was stirred (his family had always been close members of the Pre-Raphaelite circle) and where he did indifferently; London, where he did equally poorly, and then the trip to the U.S.A. where he met his wife Elizabeth in Kentucky, returned to become active in museum work in Leeds and Sheffield. Certainly a hundred or so famous people, in the arts and letters, appear and disappear through the pages here; those he knew and writes of more intimately include Beerbohm, David Cecil, John Strachey, Berenson, and, briefly, Laurence of Arabia. The book is an example of the rather perfectly appointed biography, written with great clarity and cultivation of mind, and one might suggest the audience of Evelyn Waugh's A Little Learning which runs parallel in both time and tenor.

Publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston