Michael Jaffé (1)

I have been trying to reproduce the entry I have written about Michael Jaffé for the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, which has just been posted online, but I have discovered that, not surprisingly, it is only available to subscribers and I don’t want to risk breaching copyright by doing a copy and paste. I realise that someone reading it may assume, wrongly, that I was a pupil of his, but I wasn’t, merely knew of him as the formidable Director of the Fitzwilliam Museum. He interviewed me to read history of art at his house in Kensington. I was seventeen, very naive and had never been to a house like his. He asked me whether I had any opinion on the attribution of a bronze which he had just purchased that afternoon. I had never seen a Renaissance bronze and I certainly had not the faintest idea as to its possible attribution. Quite quickly he lost patience with my apparently total ignorance and asked me if I had anything whatsoever to recommend me. I said that I had been editor of my school magazine, which I was rather proud of. He drew himself up and told me that he had been editor of the Eton Chronicle and knew that editing the school magazine counted for nothing. That was the end of the interview. It didn’t stop me feeling that he deserved commemoration.


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