Cover image for The sorcerer's apprentice : Picasso, Provence, and Douglas Cooper
The sorcerer's apprentice : Picasso, Provence, and Douglas Cooper
Richardson, John, 1924-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Alfred A. Knopf : Distributed by Random House, 1999.
Physical Description:
viii, 318 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
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N7483.R52 A3 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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The Sorcerer's Apprentice is John Richardson's vivid memoir of the time he spent living with and learning from the deeply knowledgeable and temperamental art collector, Douglas Cooper. For ten years the two entertained a circle of friends that included Jean Cocteau, W. H. Auden, Tennessee Williams, and, most intriguingly, Pablo Picasso. Compulsively readable and beautifully illustrated, this book is both a triple portrait of the author, Cooper, and Picasso, and a revealing look at a crucial artistic period. Originally published by Knopf1999 ISBN: 0-375-40033-8

Author Notes

John Richardson is a contributor to the New York Review of Books and Vanity Fair. Richardson has been elected to the British Academy and was Slade Professor of Art at Oxford for 1995-96. He lives in New York City and Connecticut.

Reviews 4

Publisher's Weekly Review

Richardson is the acclaimed biographer of Picasso, so his gossipy, candid memoir of his 12-year affair with cubist art collector Douglas Cooper (1911-1984) and their doings as part of Picasso's inner circle is something of an art-world event. Painter-turned-critic Richardson first became involved with flamboyant art historian Cooper in 1949, when he was 25 and Cooper 38. Together they moved into and restored a dilapidated 16th-century chateau in Provence, filling it with pictures by Klee, L‚ger, Mir¢ and Picasso. In Richardson's withering, occasionally bitter portrayal, CooperÄthe mentor who opened up the world of modern art to himÄis presented as abusive, vainglorious, vindictive, viciously competitive, a Jekyll/Hyde whose bright, sweet exterior masked a cauldron of envy, resentment and rage. Though Richardson describes their stormy relationship as one held together by a passionately shared experience of works of art, one wonders why they stayed together so long if Cooper was truly so horrible. Through Richardson's eyes, we see Picasso as a protean genius turning out paintings, prints, sculpture and ceramics on a grand scale, but also as an egocentric, misogynistic sadist. One spurned mistress, Dora Maar, sobs over Picasso's brutally anatomic, erotic drawings of her, while another mistress (later his wife), Jacqueline Roque, is pathetically subservient and self-sacrificial, turning to drink for consolation. Splendidly illustrated with 121 photographs and art reproductions, this vivid reminiscence shines with its firsthand glimpses of painters Francis Bacon, Georges Braque, Graham Sutherland, poets W.H. Auden and James Schuyler, art historian/spy Anthony Blunt, Bernard Berenson, Jean Cocteau, Isaiah Berlin and many more. First serial to Vanity Fair. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Choice Review

Richardson presents what would have been long digressions if incorporated into his two acclaimed volumes, A Life of Picasso (v. 1, CH, Jun'91; v. 2, 1996)(with three additional planned). At the same time this work should be considered in conjunction with that series, since it elucidates in memoir format the personal relationships that provided Richardson with access to documents other scholars only dream about. With his friend, the important collector Douglas Cooper, Richardson renovated a chateau in Provence and installed dozens of cubist masterpieces. Here they frequently hosted Picasso, Georges Braque, Fernand Leger, and Juan Gris. Other visitors included Jean Cocteau, Peggy Guggenheim, Anthony Blunt, and W. H. Auden. The careful notes Richardson kept during his conversations with the artists, in addition to letters, form the documentary basis of this memoir. Of particular interest are Richardson's recollections of Picasso in his private relationships with Dora Maar, Fran,coise Gilot, and Jacqueline Roque. Personal observations of character traits suppressed from the more strictly art historical A Life of Picasso prove fascinating within this context. Richardson's writing style is engaging; the book reads like a novel and will appeal equally to general readers as well as undergraduates through professionals. E. K. Menon; Minnesota State University, Mankato

Booklist Review

Art historian Richardson combined acute personal observation with impeccable scholarship in his acclaimed two-volume biography of Picasso. Here, in this gossipy memoir about the man who introduced him to Picasso--the mercurial and notorious art collector, Douglas Cooper--Richardson is positively unbuttoned. Like women's history before it, gay history is emerging from the shadows, particularly in regard to modern art, and Richardson's often hilarious, if not downright catty, account of his 12-year relationship with Cooper illuminates many pertinent aspects of the lives of gay artists and writers previously omitted from historical accounts. Always witty and animated, Richardson chronicles Cooper's unusual life and outrageous behavior, describes his remarkable cubist collection, and relives their adventures abroad and at Cooper's Provence chateau, a gathering place for art world notables. Portraits of such diverse figures as the poet Auden, the artists Cocteau, Braque, and, of course, Picasso, as well as curators, collectors (including the eccentric Helena Rubinstein), and other moneyed or royal hangers-on, present a world as competitive and petty as it was creative and influential. --Donna Seaman

Library Journal Review

Picasso's noted biographer recalls his life with wild but brilliant British art expert Cooper. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Army and Navy Child My earliest, indeed happiest, memories are bound up with the Army and Navy Stores -- not a shop selling surplus camouflage gear but a once celebrated London department store, which my father had helped to found and continued, as vice chairman, to run very efficiently until his death. As a four-year-old, I longed for Thursdays to come round. My father would return from his weekly board meeting with the toy department's finest electric train or toy motorcar or, best of all, a building set -- anything to gratify the son and heir he was so proud of having produced at the age of seventy. I also enjoyed going to the imposing Victoria Street store, where my father had set up the best food halls and wine and cigar departments of any store in London and, much to my delight, a zoo department, where I got to play with the monkeys. The staff treated me like a little prince and hung a framed photograph of me in one of the elevators. Even my mother turned out to have an Army and Navy provenance. Not that she was very forthcoming about it; however, she filled me in on my father's role in the great enterprise she always referred to as "the Stores." My father had been the youngest of a group of twelve subalterns who had pooled their resources and, around 1870, formed a cooperative society for the wholesale purchase of provisions for their mess as well as for their personal requirements. Yorkshire hams and jars of Stilton, cases of claret and port and Madeira (for elevenses with the requisite slice of seed cake) would follow my father to Africa in the 1870s and 1880s, where he battled Ashantis and Kaffirs and Zulus and helped his friend Kitchener defeat the Khalifa at Omdurman. In the South African War, he became Quartermaster-General and was popular with the troops for a revolutionary innovation, refrigerated meat. After being decorated by Queen Victoria and knighted by Edward VII, he retired and devoted his logistical skills to transforming the cooperative society of his youth into a phenomenally successful department store. At its height -- between 1890 and 1940 -- the Army and Navy Stores was more than a mere emporium: it was a key cog in the machinery of the Empire. Besides the flagship store in London, which supplied the British establishment with everything it could possibly want, the Stores had outlets in the principal army and navy bases Aldershot, Portsmouth, and Plymouth for the convenience of people in the services. But the two greatest jewels in the Stores' crown were the enormous branches in Calcutta and Bombay, which functioned as travel agents, bankers, caterers, undertakers, and insurance brokers, as well as purveyors of the pith helmets, thunder-boxes, plum puddings, and all the other myriad things listed in the Army and Navy's catalogue, which ran to more than a thousand pages. This catalogue was the bible of the British Raj. Kipling's Mrs. Vansuythen and Mrs. Hauksbee would have been unable to function without it. The loss of the Empire after World War II would eventually deprive the Army and Navy Stores of its imperial luster. Bomb damage made matters worse. To repair the building, the Stores employed a construction company that turned out to be a subsidiary of their principal rival, Harrods. This strategy allegedly enabled Harrods to take over the Stores and reduce it to the downmarket establishment it remains today. When he was almost seventy, my dashing, surprisingly liberal father caused a stir by falling in love with one of the Stores' employees, an attractive thirty-five-year-old woman of much warmth and humor called Patty Crocker, whose job was to retouch photographic portraits. Thanks to her training as a miniaturist, she was able to whittle inches off the waists of stout matrons in court dress and add a lifelike sparkle to the expressions of loved ones lost in the recent war. Horrified at first by her boss's advances, the fetching retoucher soon capitulated and married the elderly though still seductive vice chairman in 1923. They were idyllically happy, especially when I was born to them in 1924. A daughter arrived the following year, and another son four years later. In July 1929, my father died of a stroke at the age of seventy-five, brought on, I suspect, by all this autumnal fathering. I was five at the time. His death hit me very hard -- all the harder because my mother told me that he had gone off to South Africa to visit old battlefields. Death would have been easier to accept than this fictitious desertion. Seventy years later, I still miss him. Unfortunately, my father had focused his organizational skills on the Stores rather than on his own fortunes. He had saved relatively little and allowed our once thriving family business -- a private bank that managed the finances of an ever diminishing number of Indian princes -- to fall into the hands of a racist relative. The sale of my father's large, ugly villa at the top of a hill near the Crystal Palace -- a perfect venue for one of Sherlock Holmes's cases -- generated enough money for my mother to buy a small house in South Kensington and educate us children, but not enough to give us much of a start in life. Shortly after my father's death, my mother made another ill-advised but well-intentioned decision. She packed me off to a horrendous boarding school, for no better reason than that my cousin Maurice had been a pupil there twenty years before. Unbeknownst to my mother, Maurice -- a fervent left-wing journalist of anarchic wit --  had loathed the place and was in the process of writing a polemical attack on private education in the form of a roman à clef about it. And then, unbeknownst to me, the book was published, and I became the catalyst of the masters' indignation. Classes would be kept in "because of Richardson," and I would be left dangling by the wrists from a hook in the ceiling, my shrieks disregarded by those in authority. For an entire term I was "sent to Coventry," which meant that the other boys were not allowed to speak to me. Appeals to my loving, uncomprehending mother were met with injunctions to "be a little man -- cousin Maurice loved the place." Unable to stand the bullying any longer, I took advantage of what I had precociously perceived as my mother's weakest spot. I told her -- quite untruthfully -- that after her previous visit to the school, the headmaster's wife was overheard to say that Lady Richardson was not her idea of a lady. I was instantly removed to a more serious school, where, after ice-cold baths at dawn, pupils were given Latin dictionaries and expected to translate ten lines of Milton into hexameters and pentameters. My family's anomalous circumstances were the more puzzling for being unmentionable. My father's formidable spinster sisters -- Aunts Ella, Alice, and Maude -- lived in a big house at Blackheath, a beautiful, unspoiled area of south London, where my grandfather (born in 1814) had owned land that is still called "Richardson's fields." They played a lot of croquet, said "ain't" and dropped their g's -- "we're goin' for a turn on the heath" -- like fashionable people a hundred years earlier. My mother's sisters, Auntie Louie and Auntie Vi, lived very differently in a snug little semi-detached house in depressing Streatham, where they treated us to scrumptious high teas of bread-and-dripping, bubble-and-squeak, and toad-in-the-hole in their funky kitchen. Why then did my mother and her sisters have such a stash of linen embroidered with coroneted R's? I was a nosy child and soon discovered that the R stood for Rosebery or Rothschild. I fantasized that I was illegitimate -- maybe Jewish. When asked about these things, my mother blushed. I was sixteen before she divulged the fact that my grandmother had been lady's maid to Hannah Rothschild, who had married Lord Rosebery. Was she light-fingered? I asked. No, the Roseberys had been open-handed: after Hannah Rosebery died, my grandmother had been allowed to take whatever mementos she wanted from her bedroom. Other members of my mother's family had been gamekeepers or butlers at Mentmore or one or other of the Rothschild estates in the Thames Valley. One of them had even claimed to have heard Lord Rosebery utter his famous after-dinner dismissal of his Rothschild relations, "Children of Israel, back to your tents!" Far from being dismayed by my mother's revelation, I was rather proud. To have worked for such exigent employers, my maternal relations must have been very good at whatever it was they did. Over the years my upstairs-downstairs background has proved, if anything, an advantage. I like to think it has enabled me to see things simultaneously from very different angles, like a cubist painter, and arrive at sharper, more ironical perceptions. At thirteen I went to Stowe, the youngest and least traditional of England's public schools. The magnificence of the buildings -- Stowe is one of the largest and stateliest of English houses -- made up for the degradation endemic to all boys' schools of the period. Everyday exposure to Vanbrugh's and Adam's façades and Capability Brown's landscaping engendered a taste for eighteenth-century architecture, which developed into a passion and provided the following pages with a subplot. A special veneration for the grottoes and temples that dotted the park resulted from their being the scenes of my first sexual experiences. One of these escapades ended ignominiously. A friend and I were caught on a rug in a distant folly by the Hunt Club: the club's pack of hounds had mistakenly followed our scent. There was a lot of ribald ragging, but the urbane, supposedly gay headmaster, who must have heard about it, failed to take punitive action. Stowe's greatest advantage, for me at least, was its progressive art school. This was run by an enterprising Canadian couple, Robin and Dodo Watt. I will always be grateful to them for introducing us to avant-garde art magazines like XXe Siècle, Verve, and Minotaure, which enabled me, from the age of thirteen to fifteen, to understand and keep up with what the masters of the School of Paris were doing. Besides triggering an obsession with Picasso, these magazines encouraged me to dabble in modern art. The results were atrocious: dumb daubs embellished with seed packets, snapshots, and railway tickets. "Schwitters," I would murmur fatuously. Back in London, I spent my pocket money on the latest Parisian publications at Zwemmer's wonderful bookshop on the Charing Cross Road. Picasso's greatest print, Minotauromachie, had just appeared. It cost fifty pounds. In the hope that my mother would advance the rest of my year's allowance, I reserved a copy. She not only refused to do so, she called up nice Mr. Zwemmer and told him she had a good mind to put the police onto him for trying to swindle little boys out of their pocket money. A signed copy of Minotauromachie recently fetched $1.5 million, the highest price ever paid for a print. The outbreak of war in 1939 stranded me and my family on holiday at Dinard in Brittany. Tourists were panicking and forming mile-long queues for the ferry. My mother turned to me for help. Why not stay on in France and enjoy ourselves? I said, and then economize by settling in nearby Jersey (in those days the Channel Isles were famously inexpensive). A school for my sister was found in Saint Helier. Meanwhile I went in search of a tutor and ended up with the father of the painter Graham Sutherland, a railway official who had run away with a neighbor's wife and ended up, like many another black sheep, on this louche island. Besides studying with Mr. Sutherland, I had my first glimpse into the heady world of Proust, thanks to being taken up by a charming Parisian couple -- a handsome concert pianist, Prince George Chavchavadze, and his wife, the richissime Elizabeth de Breteuil, whose two daughters attended the same school as my sister. The Chavchavadzes regarded the Jersey manor house they had rented as a rustic wartime refuge. To me it seemed the epitome of luxe. In Paris after the war, I would go back for another taste of Chavchavadze life -- a great mistake. My mother had been assured by the local governor's wife that the Germans would never invade Jersey. One night, however, the sky to the south turned orange as Saint-Malo went up in flames. Disregard the governor's wife, I told my mother, and rent a truck so that we can get our belongings -- above all, my art books -- onto the Southampton boat. We were lucky. Subsequent boats restricted people to one small bag. The closest we came to danger was when a German plane on the way back from bombing Portsmouth treated us to a brief burst of machine-gun fire. We still had to go through customs. To escape the bombing, my mother took my brother and sister off to a farm in the country. I stayed on by myself in London but eventually enrolled at the Slade School, a faculty of the University of London that had been "evacuated" for the duration of the war to Oxford. I was a month short of seventeen and thrilled to be an art student. It did not take me long to realize that I would never be much good -- better write about painting than actually do it. Fifty-three years later, I would take some pride in returning to Oxford for a year as Slade Professor of Art History, the first Slade student to do so. Besides making friends with two art students, Geoffrey Bennison and James Bailey, whose lives would continue to be intricately involved in mine, I embarked on a romance with an attractive, fattish girl called Diana, who fulfilled my adolescent dream of pneumatic bliss. We thought we were madly in love with each other; in fact we were in love with love. Diana like to fantasize. One day we were Heathcliff and Catherine; next day Rodolfo and Mimi; we were never ourselves. While staying with her parents in the depths of Devonshire, we announced we were going to get married. Her charming, sensible father took the matter lightly, but her socially ambitious mother was horrified; and so, with the help of Diana's ancient aunt, we decided to elope. It was ever so romantic -- trysts on Dartmoor at midnight -- but it was also a disaster. We were too young and too poor and too silly even to think of marriage. There was a further problem: Diana's Catholicism. She insisted that I convert to her faith, which I was only too happy to do. Unfortunately, she also insisted on remaining a virgin. In the face of her inflexibility on this point, I had an unsatisfactory fling on the side with another girl and then opted for the inevitable alternative. When she realized the situation, Diana returned to her family. In the hope of better luck next time, her mother packed her off to a fashionable quack to be slimmed down. In no time she became a living skeleton, and then glandular problems developed, and she died a year or two later. Meanwhile I had been called up. As the son of a distinguished soldier, I felt obliged to apply for a commission in a "good regiment." The Irish Guards accepted me, but a week later I was struck down by rheumatic fever and invalidated out of the army before I even had time to put on a uniform. I felt guilty. I also felt relieved; the regiment would suffer appalling casualties in the Italian campaign. I spent the rest of the war in London with my mother and two siblings. During the day I worked as an industrial designer. At night I was on call as an air-raid warden or firefighter, but was usually to be found in basement nightclubs, dancing away as the bombs rained down. I enjoyed the blitz; it brought out good nature in even the nastiest people. After the war, Geoffrey Bennison, James Bailey, and I were chosen to design a section of a large exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum, optimistically called "Britain Can Make It." There were all too many props, which Britain could not or did not make. I had to go to Paris in search of them. On one of those trips I paid a call on the Chavchavadzes. George turned out to be delighted to see me; he needed an assistant. I couldn't resist his offer. It would surely be more interesting than designing plastic teacups. If George had practiced harder, he might have played better and been able to extend his repertoire beyond the Schumann and Grieg concertos. It was his dashing Georgian looks and princely panache rather than his pianism, however, that had won him the hand of Elizabeth de Breteuil, owner of a Renaissance villa outside Florence, a floor of the Palazzo Polignac in Venice, and a magnificent hôtel particulier on the rue de Bellechasse, which her American fortune enabled her to run more lavishly than any other Parisian hostess. And that was where I would spend the next few months in black-market splendor beyond the wildest dreams of someone who, for the last five years, had been living off Spam and powdered eggs. In lieu of wages, George gave me a bed in a library adjoining his bedroom, and my keep. There was very little to do. George already had a French secretary and valet, an English agent, and a Mexican bodyguard called Puma. My job, it turned out, was to sleep with the boss. I declined to do so, less out of physical distaste -- he was nothing if not handsome -- than indignation at his droit-du-seigneurial assumption that I had no right to turn down a princely pass. Also, I had become fond of his wife. When Elizabeth left for America, I found myself at George's mercy,  even more of a prisoner than Proust's Albertine, and at the same time a player in a Proustian game whose rules were way beyond my juvenile comprehension. Too late, I discovered what a liability virtue could be. Having used up all my traveler's checks, I had no access to cash, and couldn't leave. However, after Puma playfully threw a knife at me, just missing my ear ("You disobey Prince, next time you get knife in eye"), I managed to borrow enough money for a ticket home. To recover, I went for a week or two to Cornwall. "For God's sake, stay there," my mother wrote. "There's a Mexican squatting on the front doorstep. He says he needs to see you. What have you been up to?" When things had quieted down, I returned to London, and went to celebrate New Year's Eve with my old friend Viva King in her house on Thurloe Square. Viva was the wife of an eccentric British Museum curator -- mauve in the face from too much sherry -- who felt that his institution should be closed to the public and that the treasures in his charge should be available only to scholars. Viva had become famous for her Sunday parties, which attracted such literary luminaries as Norman Douglas, Ivy Compton-Burnett, and Angus Wilson. Her taste for artistic young men had earned her a certain notoriety: "a friend of Mrs. King" was a genteel euphemism for "homosexual." On this particular evening, Viva lived up to her reputation. She was co-hosting the party with someone she claimed to dislike: "a sinister bugger," she said, but he had promised to pay for the booze, if she would "round up the boys" and do the sandwiches. The man's name was Douglas Cooper. I knew very little about him except that he was reputed to have the finest collection of modern art in England, to be "mad, bad, and dangerous to know," and, worse, Australian. I had spotted him immediately: a fattish figure in his late thirties, bulging self-importantly out of an RAF uniform. He looked put out, as well he might: he had just caught the French boy he had brought to the party up to no good with one of Viva's protégés on the stairs. Toward the end of the evening, I spotted Douglas Cooper bearing down on me in a meaningful way. I fled to my mother's house, which was just around the corner. On the way home, I passed a youngish man with a luminous face, who was often to be seen prancing about the neighborhood -- evidently a painter. As usual, he was lugging canvases in or out of the house opposite ours. His paintings, of which I had only the briefest, most tantalizing glimpse, intrigued me. They looked as if they might be by a mysterious artist whose work I knew only from a single, unforgettable reproduction of a Crucifixion, painted fifteen years earlier -- an orgasmic gush of white paint -- in Herbert Read's Art Now, an artist called Francis Bacon. Nobody seemed to be familiar with him or his work. Finally I found someone who knew him, the painter Michael Wishart. My instincts had been correct. The youngish man was indeed Francis Bacon, and the house opposite ours belonged to his cousin, a Miss Watson, who owned virtually all that was left of the several hundred paintings Francis had destroyed. Forget about her, Michael said, come and meet Francis. Francis lived across from South Kensington Station in a vast, gloomy studio that had belonged to the Pre-Raphaelite painter Millais. There was a wonderful, ominous, ninetyish decadence to it. Dorian Gray's portrait could have been painted there. Michael had told me all about the illicit roulette parties that Francis, who was an accomplished croupier, liked to organize. He had also told me about the rough trade and the drinking and the fishnet stockings. What he had not mentioned was Francis's sightless old nanny, Jessie Lightfoot, who sat knitting in a rocking chair, mumbling away about the wickedness of the Duchess of Windsor: "They better bring back the gibbet for her." At night, the kitchen table doubled as her bed. Nanny Lightfoot, I suddenly realized, must have given Francis the idea for the central panel of his early masterpiece, Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion. She must have taught him the same game that many old-time nannies (mine included) taught their charges: how to turn a fist into a face. Make a fist, stick the tip of your thumb between the knuckles of your first and second fingers and the black ends of two matches either side of the second and third ones, drape a handkerchief over the fist, and it turns into a head like the one in the Bacon. I thought it wiser to keep this discovery to myself. On a later visit I found Francis ensconced in front of a mirror, seemingly making up his face. In fact he was rehearsing those heavily loaded brushstrokes that would give his portraits, above all his self-portraits, their sumptuous gyroscopic spin. Francis would let his beard grow for a few days until it resembled the unprimed, paper-bag-colored back of the canvas, which he characteristically preferred to the smooth, white front. He would then cake pads with different shades of Max Factor's pancake makeup and apply them, this way and that, across his stubble in great swoops, which simulated the way the furry nap he liked to work on "took" paint. It was as if the surface of his face were the page of a sketchbook. This tied in with Francis's habit of mixing his paint on his hand or his fine, fleshy forearm instead of on a palette -- a habit that would result in turpentine poisoning and an eventual switch to acrylic. It also tied in with the violence that he challenged his lovers to inflict on his infinitely receptive body, hence the pain and degradation of his imagery. At his best, Francis imbued paint with such palpable physicality that it seems to slobber, shudder, and scream. At his worst, he allowed melodrama, contrivance, and cheap thrills to become ends in themselves. Everything about Francis was surprising: his strangely skewed intelligence, his instinctive courtesy and charm, no less than his baroque bitchery and kinky exhibitionism. If people were shocked, so much the better. That was the impact he intended his behavior as well as his work to have. I remember Francis going into gruesome detail about a recent experience with a Belgian traveling salesman, how excited he had been to find a little marcasite watch nestling in the hairs on the man's wrist. The mention of Douglas Cooper detonated a vituperative blast. Eschewing the masculine pronoun as was his way, Francis admitted to having "known that treacherous woman. She's even more loathsome than she looks." Apparently an elderly cousin of Cooper's had answered one of Francis's advertisements in the personals column of the London Times, which solicited a job as a "gentleman's companion." After being vetted by Nanny Lightfoot, the elderly cousin had paid Francis for his services and found him part-time work as a telephone operator in a London club; he had also invoked Cooper's help in promoting Francis as a designer of furniture and interiors (curtains of white surgical rubber were his trademark), also as a budding painter. Before the relationship with his cousin foundered, Cooper had commissioned a desk from Francis, a massive Bauhausy piece painted battleship gray. He had also arranged for his paintings to be shown at the Mayor Gallery, of which he was part owner, and persuaded Herbert Read, the foremost British modernist of the day, to reproduce the Crucifixion -- which had made such an impression on me and so many others of my generation -- in his book. Sixty years later, I can only imagine that the reason we were so struck by this work was that few if any of us had seen the deeply disturbing  Crucifixion that Picasso had painted three years earlier, and that had all too evidently inspired Bacon's ectoplasmic version. Cooper's behavior struck me as anything but treacherous. After all, he had been one of the first people to take Francis up. However, it turned out that he had been one of the first to drop him. "We were not exactly each other's cup of tea," Francis said, but obviously the trouble went much deeper than that. I would later find out that Cooper was convinced that Francis had blackmailed his aged cousin. ("Did you?" Lucian Freud asked him. Francis thought for a bit and then said, "Did I blackmail him? I don't think I did.") The more famous Francis became, the more eager Cooper was to denigrate him. The two of them gave each other an ever wider berth. "Does Cooper really have such a good eye for modern art?" I asked Francis. "She's only got one, so it better be good," he said. And the famous collection? "Too Museum of Modern Arty for my taste, but there are some wonderful things. Take a look at your own risk. She'll try to lure you into bed, and then she'll turn on you. She always does." Francis's predictions had a way of coming true. Douglas Cooper would not recross my path for another two years. Meanwhile I had given up any thought of being a painter, and was doing my best to become a book reviewer like my clever cousin, Maurice, a pillar of the London Observer. In this resolve I was lucky to have been taken up by a writer called Cuthbert Worsley, theater critic and assistant literary editor of the most enlightened of Britain's weekly journals, the New Statesman. Cuthbert had once been a schoolmaster, and still looked and behaved like one. He had taken me as well as my prose in hand, starting me off with short, unsigned reviews, which he made me rewrite again and again until the seams no longer showed. "Use your ears," he would say. "Listen to yourself. Stop shunting back and forth like a drunken engine driver." In return I did what I could to mitigate Cuthbert's depression, which manifested itself in deluges of tears. The tears stemmed from an unfounded conviction that to save himself from drowning, he had caused an adolescent brother's death. The attention he devoted to his young writers seems to have been a strategy to exorcise this obsession. Tall, skinny, and small of head, Cuthbert resembled a Giacometti figure in his looks as well as his corroded spirit. The salt in his tears might as well have been lye, to judge by the rawness of his face. It was impossible not to feel pity for him, but pity made for guilt and guilt made for resentment, and I began to fear that my efforts to rescue Cuthbert from his swamp of despair might end with him dragging me into it -- a fear that my ever-increasing obligation to him made more and more likely. He not only arranged for me to review art and fiction under my own name, but to cover ballet, anagrammatically, under the name of Richard Johnson. As a result, we spent all the more time together. At least three evenings a week, Cuthbert would take me to the theater or I would take him to the ballet. More often than not, the evening would end in floods of tears too Niagaran to staunch. To cheer myself up, I would sneak off with friends my own age. Sometimes we would cruise the Soho pubs, especially the Golden Lion, or the French Pub, where we would watch Francis Bacon on the prowl. Sometimes we would go to the Gargoyle Club, whose mirrored dance floor had seen up the knickers of most of the girls I knew, not to mention their mothers', but it was too full of raffish upper-class drunks for my taste. In quest of hotter music, we would go to the darker, loucher Caribbean Club, where we would find more stimulating company -- Lucian Freud or Michael Wishart or some wild girls we had known at the Slade -- and boogie the night away. I picked up my first and last whore at the Caribbean. Carmencita, she was called. As I hoped to be a father, I thought this experience would straighten me out. No such luck. Carmencita had a terrible cold and, instead of being exhilaratingly whorish, was depressingly genteel. After it was all over, she told me there was "a little pink taowel at the bottom of the bed." And then one fateful day, in the spring of 1949, Cuthbert said he was taking me to a party given by John Lehmann, the editor of a little magazine called New Writing, in honor of the publication of Paul Bowles's painfully good book, The Sheltering Sky. I was delighted. American writers had a way of heading straight for Paris and missing out on London. Scenting free drink, Grub Street arrived en masse, and the wine ran out even faster than usual. Lehmann was famously parsimonious, and used postwar shortages as a cover for his economies. Unless they had brought hip flasks, thirsty guests had to fall back on assorted bottles of invalid port, cooking sherry, or a nausea-inducing "cup." Bowles had arrived from Tangier with a supply of hashish fudge, something few of us had tried. As the mixture of drinks, not to mention the fudge, began to take effect, I realized I was being stalked by a stout pink man in a loud checked suit. At first I did not recognize him out of uniform. "You may not remember me," he said in his aggressively accented voice. "We met at the house of that Poufmutter, Mrs. King. My name is Douglas Cooper." This time I was too full of curiosity to flee. I blurted out that I wanted to see his pictures. "Right now, my dear, if you can tear yourself away from these hideous mediocrities," he replied. Despite (or maybe because of) Francis's warnings, I agreed to do so. Then, remembering that Cuthbert expected me to dine with him, I hurried over to ask him whether he minded. "Of course I don't," he said. As if to confirm that this was not true, he allowed a tear to trickle slowly out from under his glasses. People noticed, nudged each other, and pointed. "Poor old Cuthbert," somebody said as I left the room. Parked outside was Douglas's car (at least he said it was his): an ancient Rolls-Royce two-seater with a jump seat at the back. It was painted bright yellow and black like a wasp -- a villain's car if ever I saw one. I climbed up into it, and after some tallyho blasts on an antiquated horn, we sped away -- and then abruptly stopped, a mere two or three hundred yards away. Home, Douglas announced, disconcertingly. That this would soon be my home never occurred to me. Excerpted from The Sorcerer's Apprentice: Picasso, Provence, and Douglas Cooper by John Richardson All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Army and Navy Childp. 3
Douglas Cooperp. 19
First Nightp. 43
Grand Tourp. 55
Back on the Roadp. 71
The Revelation of Castillep. 87
Miscreants, Pets, and Neighborsp. 105
A Trip with Picassop. 125
The Visitors' Bookp. 139
Graham Sutherland and the Tate Affairp. 157
God Save the Queenp. 171
Painters and Paintingsp. 181
Picasso and Dorap. 203
Collectorsp. 223
Picasso and Jacquelinep. 233
The Sorcerer's Apprenticep. 251
The Beginning of the Endp. 263
The Endp. 281
Epiloguep. 297
Select Bibliographyp. 305
Indexp. 307