Thursday, 17 May 2012

Vulgarity, commonness and crass bad taste

Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, photographed by Cecil Beaton at the Rothschilds' home, Chateau de Ferrières, near Paris in December 1971.

From The Guardian website:
Beaton wrote in his diary: "I have always loathed the Burtons for their vulgarity, commonness and crass bad taste, she combining the worst of US and English taste, he as butch and coarse as only a Welshman can be."

He said Taylor had craved compliments during the brief shoot. "She got none. I felt I must be professional and continued, but not without loathing at this monster... Round her neck was a velvet ribbon with the biggest diamond in the world pinned on it.

"On her fat, coarse hands more of the biggest diamonds and emeralds, her head a ridiculous mass of diamond necklaces."

Ungallantly, Beaton described Taylor's hair as "sausage curls", adding: "Alexandre, the hairdresser, had done his worst. And this was the world's biggest draw! In comparison everyone else looked ladylike."
Cecil Beaton was a bitch.

The photograph is expected to make £12,000 when it is auctioned on Tuesday 22nd May 2012 at Bloomsbury Auctions.


  1. I have the Beaton Diaries & on occasion I will pluck it from the shelf & randomly opening to a page to read... it is always dishy.

    Is £12,000 a lot of money?

    1. I imagine Cecil had a lot of catty things to say about a lot of people - I'd love to read those diaries one day.


      PS Twelve grand, a lot of money? For a photograph, it is!

  2. Miss Beaton was a bitch indeed! And we wouldn't have her any other way.

    1. Even with those silly made-up stories about his so-called "affair" with Greta Garbo, he was an astutely waspish grande dame, and we love him for it... Jx

  3. He was both fabulous and, at times, a crashing bore. Probably truer of all of us than we would like to think. It's a shame he couldn't appreciate the Taylor-Burton circus, which I've always thought worked because they were so thoroughly in on the joke.

    That said, this is a fairly dreadful image; Elizabeth is doing that pretty-mouth, faux Vivien Leigh smile she affected when uncomfortable, which never quite works. She's better sulking or straight-out, loud broad laughing.

    1. I do agree, Muscato - they were always acutely aware of how they performed for their audience, and certainly never appeared to give a damn.

      And no, it isn't the most flattering photo of either of them... Jx


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