Peter Watson and Denham Fouts

A biography of Fouts is about to be published by Arthur Vanderbilt. It will be interesting to see what is said about the relationship between Fouts and Watson.

They met in about 1933. Watson was in the throes of a relationship with a rich young American called Robin Thomas. Fouts was also American but not rich. He was also highly dangerous in an emotional sense. There are many descriptions of him. During the early stages of the War, Watson sent him off to America for safety with Watson’s great Picasso oil of La Femme Lisant (which Fouts duly sold). Fouts became very friendly with Christopher Isherwood, who describes him in detail in his Diaries. It became difficult for Watson to cope with him after Fouts returned to Paris from his Wartime stay in America and descended into hopeless drug addiction.

Those interested in getting a glimpse of what Watson chose not to tolerate should read the account of a meeting with Fouts in Michael Wishart’s autobiography, “High Diver”. He met Fouts shortly after the end of the War at Watson’s apartment at 44 Rue du Bac in Paris. Fouts was hooked on opium and Wishart’s description of what it was like to be around him shows how difficult he had become. Watson had to abandon the flat to Fouts and the owner of the flat, Comte Etienne de Beaumont, became increasingly exasperated at having his flat occupied by a drug addict. Watson hated drugs.

Fouts was eventually evicted from the flat and went to Rome, where he set himself up with a new companion called Tony Watson-Gandy. Fouts died in December 1948. Watson heard the news as he was about to set off for America and further amorous adventures which would inexorably lead to his own death a few years later.

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