Sir Harold Acton - La Pietra - Florence
SIR HAROLD ACTON O.B.E.
AESTHETE AND PHILANTHROPIST, 1911 - 1994
‘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