1. Cecil Beaton - Visitors Book


    from Victoria and Albert Museum Added 423 3 0

    One of the most fascinating objects that we’re showing in the V&A exhibition is Cecil Beaton’s own visitors book which he began to use in 1930 when he moved to Ashcombe House in Wiltshire. The book spans the 30s, the 40s, all the way up to 1979 to Beaton’s home in the village of Broad Chalke. In the book we find the names not only of Beaton’s family and closest friends, but also of great stars of the century. People such as the Sitwell siblings, Greta Garbo the great screen actress, Beaton’s friend, Diana Vreeland, the editor of Vogue and also great poets, for example, one of the best loved poet laureates of the 20th century, Sir John Betjeman. Many of Beaton’s visitors were his fellow artists and photographers. The visitors book doesn’t just include the signatures of Beaton’s famous friends and family, it also includes beautiful drawings and illustrations and handwritten messages. This is a beautiful drawing by the artist Francis Rose of the house. Some of the most famous artists that visited him at Reddish were Salvador Dalí who produced this sketch. On the top of this page is the signature of the choreographer Frederick Ashton, founding choreographer of the Royal Ballet in London. Certainly the most famous visitor to Beaton’s house Reddish in the village of Broad Chalke was Queen Elizabeth. At the time of her visit she was Elizabeth the Queen Mother and her signature is seen here with the date November 19th 1955. This extraordinary book really serves as a ‘who’s who’ of the mid-20th century and it’s a fantastic record of Beaton’s huge circle of friends and colleagues throughout his long career.

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