New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1937. 1st US Edition. Quarto, publisher's three-quarter yellow and green cloth over floral-patterned wallpaper-covered boards, spine stamped in orange, floral-patterned wallpaper endpapers, original illustrated dust jacket, text printed on various colored paper stocks.
Presentation copy of Beaton's second book, inscribed to the "high priestess of fashion," Vogue editor-in-chief Edna Woolman Chase, who gave Beaton some of his most important commissions and helped establish his career: "To Edna / Arch Instigator of so much of this Book [drawing of a butterfly] / or to Edna Editor in Chief from (I hope) her contributor-in-chief / Cecil." Photographer, set and costume designer, diarist, bright young thing and all-around renaissance man, Beaton got his start as an illustrator and staff photographer for British Vogue, where he contributed fashion sketches and society portraits. He soon found himself photographing the likes of Queen Elizabeth, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Marlene Dietrich and Greta Garbo, as well as designing sets and costumes for the opera, ballet, Broadway, West End and Hollywood. The Scrapbook, published at the height of his pre-war fame, brings together sketches, portraits, photos, collages and texts drawing on a wide variety of Beaton's enthusiasms and inspirations. As he explains in the preface, "I have now over fifty diaries & scrapbooks, memorials of many violated magazines, repositories of museum picture postcards, theatrical programmes, letters, photographs & pictorial miscellanea which have accumulated since childhood. [The painter] Christian Bérard suggested to me that a similar scrapbook might be distilled from my own work during the last five years; & that is what has been done." In his introduction to the 2011 publication of Beaton's private scrapbooks, James Danziger writes, "Much of the pleasure of Beaton's scrapbooks comes from the combination of two elements: the hormonal charge of teenage-style fandom and the scholarly art-historical knowledge of the Cambridge student and sophisticated collagist…. By turns artful, erudite, gossipy, naïve, sophisticated and totally personal, they present a snapshot of both the mind and state of mind of the magpie intellect and creative wunderkind that was Sir Cecil Beaton." Edna Woolman Chase began working in the mailroom at American Vogue at the age of 18, and quickly caught the attention of the magazine's founder, Arthur Baldwin Turnure, for her diligence and sharp mind. When Turnure died, Chase was taken up by the magazine's new publisher, Condé Nast. Her abilities as a fashion forecaster and tastemaker won her the editorship of American Vogue, and later the role of editor-in-chief for all Vogue publications. "A perfectionist, she brought in only the most talented artists and editors to help Vogue achieve its goal of being the high-society authority on matters of style and elegance. She balanced all the demands of running a large, influential fashion publication: artistic, financial, topical, and even political" (Women In World History: A Biographical Encyclopedia). In her 1954 memoir, Always In Vogue, Chase describes Beaton at their first meeting as "tall, slender, swaying like a reed, blond, and very young." She also says, "What I like best is his debunking attitude toward life and his ability for hard work." Published simultaneously in London and New York, and in two binding states (in full yellow cloth and in "deluxe" three-quarter cloth over floral wallpaper-covered boards with wallpaper endpapers), with the present copy the deluxe New York issue, inscribed by Beaton in blue ink to the front free endpaper. Some wear and fraying to spine-ends and board edges, some foxing to preliminary leaves. Unclipped dust jacket with large chips to spine-ends, minor chipping to edges and flap folds, and long diagonal tear across rear panel. An exceptional presentation-association copy, scarce in this issue and in dust jacket. Item #1188