In this cultivated, extroverted yet dry autobiography, art historian Pope-Hennessy espouses his passions for Italian sculpture, Elizabethan miniatures, Raphael, bronzes and Picasso. An Oxford graduate in history, he is largely self-taught in art criticism. How this distinguished colleague of Bernard Berenson and Kenneth Clark honed his analytical skills and rose to eminent positions at the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum and New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art should make for a fascinating story, but this genteel self-portrait does not live up to its title. Son of a formidable, dynamic mother and a soldier father who painted watercolors, Pope-Hennessy offers sporadic, tantalizing glimpses of such notables as Margaret Thatcher and connoisseur/spy Anthony Blunt. (Mar.)
The distinguished art historian has recorded his memoirs of a charmed life hobnobbing with this century's most culturally elite. Born to a privileged British family, he became a specialist in Italian Renaissance art and sculpture, notably Sienese quattrocento art. His scholarly publications and lectures earned him prestigious faculty positions that led to directorships at the Victoria and Albert Museum and the British Museum and later as Consultative Chairman of the European Paintings Department at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. His biography contains a firsthand account of museum administration including a peek into the basements, boardrooms, and offices of these mysterious institutions. At 77, Pope-Hennessy now resides in Florence. Not one to mince words, he offers a narrative ranging from rather terse comments to highly amusing anecdotes. Recommended for special, academic, and large public collections.-- Joan Levin, Indian Trails P.L., Wheeling, Ill.