100 Years Ago - a Weekly Selection from Mary Berenson's Diaries

A Black Serpent Day

Tuesday, July 4

Dined at Sybil1’s and Trench2 bored me so fearfully that I was on the verge of insanity. He “explains” life by “spirals”.

Geoffrey3 told of how he went to Strongs4’ and found him in contemplation of the cupola of the Duomo

“I have been THINKING these last four days why that cupola is beautiful, and now I know.”

“Why is it?”

“Because it looks like a woman’s face turned upside down”

“With a beard?” said Geoffrey.

A real Philosopher’s “thought”!

Cecil6 presented his accounts. He was 800 francs out in his Library estimates. B.B. is furious and lets his fury on me, fortunately.


A Black Serpent Day


Lady Sybil Marjorie Lubbock (née Cuffe) (1879-1943), living in Villa Medici, Fiesole. See note 7 on May 6.

2 Herbert Trench (1865-1923): Irish poet, living in Settignano.

Geoffrey Scott (1884-1929): see note 4 on May 10.

4 Eugénie Sellers Strong (1860-1943) was a British archaeologist and art historian. From 1905 to 1925 was Assistant Director of the British School at Rome. First female student admitted to the British School at Athens; she continued art historical studies in Germany under Adolf Furtwängler. In 1897 she married art historian Sandford Arthur Strong

Cecil Pinsent (1884-1963). With  Geoffrey Scott was the principle architect of Villa I Tatti. They both arrived in Florence in 1907 and soon they became very close to the Berenson circle.