Cecil Beaton's Scrapbook
London: B.T. Batsford Ltd., 1937. 1st Edition. Quarto, publisher's three-quarter yellow and green cloth over floral-patterned wallpaper-covered boards, spine stamped in orange, floral-patterned wallpaper endpapers, text printed on various colored paper stocks.
First edition of Cecil Beaton's second book. 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." 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 London issue. Gift inscription dated 26th January 1938 to front endpaper. Lacking scarce, fragile dust jacket. Some wear to spine-ends and board edges, some soiling to boards and darkening to spine, some foxing to preliminary leaves. A very good copy of an uncommon book. Item #7197