Idiot Club, left side:"Burnt Worm", ca. 1886


Mary was not always a serious young lady. With some friends she created the “Idiot Club,” dedicated to the “Suppression of Dignity and Wisdom.” They wrote entrance exams and “Moral Tales for Ideots,” acted in plays, and generally enjoyed themselves. This photograph and another (fig. MS.III.1), taken in ca. 1886, then united in a frame made by Mary, capture the atmosphere of their meetings. They show, from left to right, the eccentric poet Eric Stenbock and three Smith siblings—Alys, Mary, and Logan—each holding a fireplace tool.

Size (frame): 450 x 164 mm
Technique: Platinum process on paper
Photographer: Frederick Hollyer (1838-1933)
Inscription (verso, handwritten): “Fredr. Hollyer. Pembroke Sq.re Kensington VV. Copyright registered”
(verso of frame, handwritten): "Monkhouse/ 6 1/2---/ 3 1/2---"




Biblioteca Berenson, Villa I Tatti - The Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies. Bernard and Mary Berenson Papers, Series: Photographs (Box 9 MB and Family)