[view artworks]

Cecil Beaton. Ashcombe House

Cecil Beaton. Ashcombe House

One of the great loves of Beaton's life was Ashcombe House, where he lived from 1930-1945 and whcih was a subject of his book Ashcombe. A Fifteen Year lease, published in 1949.

Beaton first visited the house in 1930 and later recalled his first impression:

"None of us uttered a word as we came under the vaulted ceiling and stood before a small, compact house of lilac-coloured brick. We inhaled sensuously the strange, haunting - and rather haunted - atmosphere of the place ... I was almost numbed by my first encounter with the house. It was as if I had been touched on the head by some magic wand.[7][9]

Beaton restored the house and grounds and entertained lavishly. Guests included actors and artists such as Tallulah Bankhead, Lady Diana Cooper, Ruth Ford and Lord Berners; artists Whistler, Salvador Dalí, Christian Bérard and Augustus John and stage designer Oliver Messel painted murals in the house, and Dalí used it as the backdrop of one of his paintings. Little remains of the Beaton-era interior design, although in the "circus room", which once contained a Whister-designed bed shaped like a carousel, one mural of a lady on a circus horse remains, painted during a hectic weekend party when all guests wielded paintbrushes.[7][10]

Beaton's lease expired in 1945, when to his great disappointment he had to leave. Hugo Vickers, Beaton's biographer,suggests that Beaton never got over the loss of Ashcombe.

All images © the artist or copyright holder | Website © The Hyman Collection 2020