Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

Snowdon RIP

Anthony Armstrong Jones was the first professional artist since forever to marry into the royal family.  He and his wife glittered and spatted through the dolce vita days of the mid to late twentieth century- a lesser Burton and Taylor- the diamonds inherited not purchased, the talent at a lower wattage. He wasn't a great photographer but his celebrity- which to be fair was established before the fateful marriage- gave him access to most of the great and good of his era- and he snapped them all- from Marlene Dietrich- a family friend- to the stars of reality TV- most of them looking as detached from the process as he was. The detachment is the most interesting thing about his art. He cast a cold eye and flattered without being impressed. He seems to have enjoyed being royal while recognising it was all just a bit of a laugh- or a bore (I suspect he was easily bored). . And of course he eventually got out- becoming the first royal personage of the modern era to get a divorce. His coldness accounts for the libertinism too- and the coldness itself can be accounted for by a loveless childhood.   He was- anecdotally- utterly beastly to his wife but then she- again anecdotally- was the most frightful woman, arrogant, spoiled, stupid. Of course, when I say "wife" I mean the first one. There were others- plus an unending steam of mistresses, lovers, knock-offs and boyfriends. He took what he could in passing and carried on down the road- like Autolycus nicking washing off a hedge.

The coldness was masked by charm. He got by on it. And it's to his credit that- tempted as he must have been to do nothing but flap his gilded wings- he persisted in his craft. And worked hard at it- even into old age.  There was charity work too. He had a small talent and he worked it for all it was worth.

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