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.