Monday, February 20, 2017

Beaton on Reddish


"Everywhere we find that modern life is killing the goose that laid the golden egg. The golden egg was the stark beauty of individuality, and the goose was the social conditions that allowed for it." So wrote Cecil Beaton in his book, The Glass of Fashion, describing the modern (as in 1954) problem of the "failure of the personal".  Sixty-three years later, this observation seems just as canny, especially at a time when most people strive hard to behave like their peers, dress like their peers, and decorate their homes like their peers- the failure of the personal writ large. Could this be why, in an age of increasingly homogenized taste, so many of us find the homes of Cecil Beaton to be so refreshing?

Throughout his adult life, Beaton conjured up interiors that assumed any number of personalities, the most constant one being that of the Edwardian dandy.  His early efforts at decorating seemed, at times, trying too hard to impress with its originality, while his later homes feel more aesthetically self-assured and settled.  But no matter its style or success, a Beaton interior was more often than not singular and, subsequently, memorable.  His English country pile, Reddish House in Broad Chalke, was no exception, as you can see in these photos, shot by the homeowner himself sometime in the 1950s.  Although I have read much about Reddish (and I'm sure you have, too), I'm not familiar with some of these images, which I found in an old issue of Connaissance des Arts, although I believe they were originally published in Country Life.

Claret-colored velvet, floral-strewn chintz, and Edwardian light fixtures are just some of Reddish's more notable decorative flourishes.  None of it terribly popular with homeowners today, and that's just what makes these interiors noteworthy.  May individualism eventually win the day.










18 comments:

  1. It's a cookie-cutter world. Conglomerates hate individuality as it messes with the forces of mass production and globalization. People want the same things because they have been trained to want the same things... The rise of on-line behemoths does not help.

    As with any trend, sooner or later, cracks develop in the system. Perhaps now, with the recent upheavals in taste, politics and social convention, the times are right for change; an emphasis back to the celebration of individuals, and not the rule of the "One" homogenized taste or thought which diminishes us all.

    Cecil Beaton was not always a nice man, but he was an original.

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    1. Let's hope that things do start to change. And I agree with you on Beaton's waspish personality, which is why I have trouble getting through his diaries. However, I do find his homes compelling.

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    2. Robert C. Mohr1:42 PM

      Beautifully said...such wise words.
      Thank you for connecting the dots!

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  2. Those words ring so true, I completely agree with you and Mr. Beaton. This post was a great way to start my week and continue with my personalized style. Thank you!

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    1. Laura, Yes, personalized style is always the way to go. :)

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  3. Anonymous10:54 AM

    This is so refreshing for me, especially since I really do not like decorating with grey. I find it depressing yet it is EVERYWHERE these days. Thank you for this inspiring post!

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    1. Mostly grey interiors leave me cold.

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  4. Ban big box banality! That is my motto. Eschew minimalism and stripped down, bleached out, neutral interiors. Up with individualism! Cecil Beaton may have been a meany, but he had wonderful taste, and we have much to be grateful for in the quantity and quality of his output.

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  5. Agree with all of the above. Internet has been a driving march toward sameness. Sometimes you can't tell a room is in Sweden, New Zealand or California—all paled out various imitations of each other. Thanks for carrying the torch for rooms that are personal and meaningful. It is time for all of us with leopard carpets to unite!

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    1. Yes, we must unite and stick together! ;)

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  6. Anonymous1:28 PM

    Jennifer My Dear
    I am sure you are aware of this but I thought I'd mention that there is a new book out 'Beaton at Home' with lots of photos from Reddish, Pelham Place in London and his earlier country home Ashcombe. Well worth having a peek at!
    Love, Vronsky

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    1. Vronsky, I should have mentioned that book in my post. I own a copy, and it's terrific. A few of the photos above appear in the book, but I believe the others do not. Thank you for mentioning it!

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  7. Our living room walls are painted crimson with matching velvet curtains. The large Georgian windows take up most of the wall space. The ceiling is painted in bronze. At night it's like being in a cinema. Grey is for slate roofs!

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  8. Pamela, I know your living room must be very striking! I've always felt that a crimson room needs strong architecture to be successful; I bet your Georgian windows and crimson walls and curtains are indeed a ravishing combination.

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  9. Anonymous11:56 AM

    Unless one is moving to a much smaller residence, I don't understand all of this paring-down, throwing out and minimalizing one's existence? Most of the crystal, china and silver in my home is from my family, and I use it everyday. I so enjoy living with them daily, that I don't care if anyone thinks my home is "too much." On a large "pot shelf" in my curved stairway, sits an antique Indonesian carousel horse that I have had for years, and I still love it today!! Thank you for the post Jennifer. LK

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    1. If you love what's in your home, that's all that matters. Good for you that you use your "pretty stuff" every day.

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  10. wow, this oldschool style is perfect...no wonder all what we have once forgotten comes back :)

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