- 5 Feb 1904
22 Willow Road, Hampstead. - Finds it hard to write what he feels about the suggestion put to him by [John?] Withers: Bob's 'constant and affectionate interest' is 'one of the most precious things' in his life; if it were necessary he would accept [the offer of help], which he cannot imagine doing from someone like Bob; expresses his gratitude and 'the sense of perfect reliance and affection'. His father has given him some help, and B.B. [Bernard Berenson] has managed to sell the Venetians; Fry has also nearly finished three restorations. When he has done so, and written some reviews, he intends to get to work on Bob's 'rabbits' picture [see 13/17]. Helen is not quite recovered, but nearly; the nurse has gone and she is taking an interest in household things; Edith [her sister] is making sure everything runs smoothly.
The Old Masters [exhibition at the Royal Academy] are 'the chief interest in now' London; disagrees with the attribution of a picture in it to Dürer, but [Charles] Holmes 'committed the Athenaeum' to it while Fry was away. Bob might like to join the new Arundel Club, fpr the reproduction of works of art in private collections. The "Burlington [Magazine]" is doing well and Holmes is showing 'infinite energy & business capacity' [as editor]. Relates a scandal created when [William Bell] Paterson asked Fry for his opinion on a painting, which Fry judged to be largely modern paint over the possible outline of a Giovanni Bellini; the painting turned out to have been sold by K[err] Lawson to Coates [unidentified] for a large sum; 'always feared that K.L. was not over scrupulous about his ascription of pictures' and thinks this may damage him 'considerably'; Kerr Lawson has 'sent his "Titian" as a Bonifazio [Veronese] to the Old Masters [exhibition] and ought to sell that.
Would be 'jolly' if Bob could write [Fry's sister] Margery's masque [for the opening of the new library at Somerville College, Oxford, see 4/55 and 4/104]; hope he has forgiven the suggestion he could 'polish it off quickly', as Fry likes to 'think of a poet as a perennial fount, bubbling up and overflowing with limpid words', and praises his skill with mythology. Has written 'an extravanganza on Blake for the Burlington' ["Three pictures in tempera by William Blake', Burl. Mag, Mar 1904 4 p 204]. Julian is very amusing, and has begun to sing a little; Edith has a cello here and Fry is accompanying her 'in very simple things' - tells Bob not to let his wife know - which Helen enjoys.