Roger Fry and Italian Art by Caroline Elam - review by David Ekserdjian

David Ekserdjian

Renaissance Man

Roger Fry and Italian Art


Ad Ilissum in association with the Burlington Magazine 442pp £100 order from our bookshop

Ad Ilissum has published this exceptionally handsome volume in association with the Burlington Magazine, which is entirely appropriate, since both its subject (from 1909 to 1919) and its author (from 1987 to 2002) were its editors for a combined period of a quarter of a century. The fact that Roger Fry was almost cat-like in the number of lives he led – painter, founder of the Omega Workshops, curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, adviser to millionaire collectors such as J Pierpont Morgan, Henry Clay Frick and John G Johnson, lecturer and jobbing journalist – whereas Caroline Elam’s unwavering focus has been on teaching and writing is not an indication of any narrowness of mind on her part, but rather a reflection of how the world has changed over the last century.

Even in his own time, however, Fry’s range of pursuits was exceptional, though he was by no means equally well cut out for all of them (his paintings are on the whole dire and his time at the Met was far from happy). He is almost certainly best

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