By Ethne Clarke
W.W. Norton & Company, 191 pages, $45.00
“.. his peers increasingly recognized him as an adept in the architectural and landscape language of the Italian Renaissance.”
Since the central character, C.R. Pinsent was an English architect and landscape designer, I expected to see pictures of beautiful gardens and landscapes. Alas, I was disappointed. An Infinity of Graces is a very detailed biography of Pinsent who lived between 1884 and 1963. During his productive years he lived in Italy and his designs, both in architecture and landscapes were almost entirely in Italy. For these, he was well known, highly respected and confirmed by a long list of his clients that author Ethne Clarke adds over an eleven-page appendix, giving the clients’ name and the type of work Pinsent was commissioned for. Starting with Pinsent’s birth, this biography is painstakingly detailed, and those interested in his life will also be disappointed of Clarke’s writing. Though readable, it lacks sparkle and liveliness of the writings of good biographer. The reader will likely lose interest in all the details in Pinsent family life, in the many quotes from his writings and letters, both received and sent. Most disappointing are the illustrations, mostly small black-and-white snapshots and very few gardens the designs of which Pinsent excelled. Many of the photos are thumbnail sized, for which you need a magnifying glass.
Reviewed by George Erdosh