Hugh Honour (2)

I have been thinking more about meeting Hugh Honour in the summer of 1975.   I travelled to Lucca from Siena where I was staying in the Monastery of Pontignano.   He had lived in Asolo in the late 1950s before moving to Lucca and at the time was working on a life of Canova which he never completed.   He used to visit England every year, staying in the Traveller’s Club and getting his hair cut in Trumper’s.   He talked about Mario Praz, who he and his partner John Fleming would have known as the great English scholar in Rome, author of The Romantic Agony and The House of Life.   He said that Praz had the evil eye and could cause a light bulb to break if he wished.   I only met him later in the bookstacks of the Warburg Institute, but retain my admiration for the quality of his writing as an independent scholar.

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Hugh Honour (1)

I have only just read of the recent death last Thursday of Hugh Honour, the writer and polymathic art historian, through his obituary in the Daily Telegraph which was tweeted (I don’t normally do twitter).   I greatly admired him and owe him a debt of gratitude for suggesting that I study at Harvard as he had enjoyed the hospitality of the Fogg’s common room.   The Companion Guide to Venice was my first introduction to the literature of travel and I still regard it as the perfect model of a guide book.   I bought the book that he commissioned from Michael Levey on the Early Renaissance when it first came out and used his book in the same series on Neoclassicism as an exemplary introduction to the topic.   In fact, the books in the Penguin Style and Civilisation series remain models of literate and discursive art history.   A great and admirable man of letters.

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