Sunday, 7 December 2014

beaton at brook street

Andrew Ginger, who with his company Beaudesert, curated the highly acclaimed Cecil Beaton exhibition at the Salisbury Museum this summer (which I very much enjoyed), recently collaborated with Sibyl Colefax & John Fowler to create Beaton at Brook Street - a display of key exhibits from the acclaimed summer show. Recreations of rooms from Beaton's London and Wiltshire homes and a collection of rare and unseen photographs, artworks and possessions sat alongside each other to present a unique view of Beaton's dazzling life.

Cecil Beaton in his rooms at Cambridge, 1922.

I popped along to Brook Street last Wednesday evening to catch the exhibition in its final few days (it ended on Friday), and also to hear a lecture by Dr Benjamin Wild about Beaton's style and clothes. The talk was very enjoyable and Dr Wild's wealth of Beaton knowledge made it most illuminating. It was wonderful to have the chance to see inside Sibyl Colefax & John Fowler's historic Mayfair premises, the famous Yellow Room in particular was magnificent, and made even more enchanting by the addition of Beaton paraphernalia scattered across its walls and tables. Previously a lecture discussing Beaton’s contribution to Vogue magazine was given, and the rare 1984 BBC documentary The Beaton Image was screened to an audience.

Cecil Beaton in the garden at Reddish House, circa 1970.

The exhibition also marked the launch of Cecil Beaton: Portraits and Profiles by Hugo Vickers, Beaton’s official biographer and literary executor. Photographs from Vickers’ new book were on display throughout Sibyl Colefax & John Fowler’s showrooms, complemented by the loan of privately owned oil portraits by Beaton, some of which had never been shown publicly before.

L-R: Rex Whistler, Edith Olivier, Zita Jungman, the Honourable Stephen Tennant and Cecil Beaton in the South of France, March 1927.

Make sure to listen out for news on where this inspiring show might be heading next. I for one have heard rumours about New York!

All images © The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive at Sotheby’s.

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