Sir Harold Acton - La Pietra - Florence



‘Alas! I am no Narcissus,’ retorted Harold Acton in a letter when he saw this photograph.

Like Atlas with the weight of the whole world of art upon his back, he told me stories of a bygone age. Indebted to the legacy of Oscar Wilde, the author of ‘MEMOIRS OF AN AESTHETE’ was a real Queen.

He lived in a real palace. He had a plethora of bedrooms with beautiful paintings and unfortunate moth-eaten curtains.

‘The beds are not prepared, so sorry we can’t ask you to stay for the night.’

I asked about his meeting with Genet, the Saint.

‘Genet, that vagrant, I didn’t trust him an inch!’

With that we bid each other farewell politely and I slept on a park bench, bitten by mosquitoes, in the centre of Florence.

- Matthew R Lewis -

Matthew visited Sir Harold Acton with his sister Hannah Fothergill, and a letter of introduction from her father, R A C Fothergill. 

Evelyn Waugh based, in part, the character of Anthony Blanche in Brideshead Revisited on Acton.

See this and other of Matthew's portrait online at The National Portrait Gallery 

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published