Thursday, January 29, 2015
Lady Diana Cooper in Little Venice
If you have read Rooms, the compilation book of photographer Derry Moore's interior photos, then you likely remember the London home of Lady Diana Cooper. Moore's photos of the Cooper residence, which was located in the Little Venice section of London, were memorable to me for me two reasons: Cooper's Martin Battersby-painted trompe l'oeil panels, which graced her dining room walls, and her jaunty yachting cap, which Cooper wore as she posed for the famed photographer.
Thanks to a kind reader of mine, I recently found these c. 1970 photos of Cooper's Little Venice home. As you can see, her living room and dining room formed one large space, which was divided by a painted floor screen. Further delineating the dining area were the Battersby trompe l'oeil panels, which created a rather striking setting for dining. The living room appeared to be more relaxed than the dining room and, well, more British thanks to the chintz-covered chairs and sofa.
It's worth studying Cooper's myriad objects and art. To the right of the living room fireplace was a J.J. Shannon portrait of Cooper as a child. Other displayed Shannon portraits included those of Cooper's mother, Violet, Duchess of Rutland, and an infant Cooper. A gold doré miniature of the Vendôme Column, which could be found in the dining room, was a gift to Cooper from Louise de Vilmorin. (Their complicated relationship is a story for another day.) And the unicorn, which was a symbol of sorts to Cooper, appeared as a dining table centerpiece as well as in a Jean Cocteau illustration.
These photos might be forty years old, but isn't it refreshing to see a home whose interiors don't seek to impress through impertinence, flamboyance, or ill-advised efforts at originality?