11 NOVEMBER 1938, Page 34

ROCOCO By A. E. Grantham

Mrs. Grantham's "Life and Times of Prince Henry of Prussia", 5726-1802 (John Lane, refs. 6d.) is a discursive book in which the sorry hero is often eclipsed by the" tasteless ornamentation" which is one dictionary's definition of the title. Frederick the Great's younger brother thought himself a brilliant general, and resented the King's refusal to give him any important office in time of peace, except for one mission to the Empress Catherine. Thus, except in the Seven Years' War, he led an aimless life at his palace of Rheinsberg near Berlin. His nephew, Frederick William II, proved as unwilling as Frederick II had been to drag the Prince from his retreat. Mrs. Grantham, having little to say about Prince Henry, describes the very unattractive Court of the great Frederick and the extremely scandalous Court of his son. It is true that Frederick was genuinely interested in the arts and crafts, and his own home at Sans-Souci shows the rococo style informed by good taste. But for rococo at its best one would not look in Prussia at all, and to this extent the title is ill chosen.