Lot 112
  • 112

Beaton, Cecil

5,000 - 7,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • watercolor and ink on paper
Autograph letter signed (""Mr B."), 6 pages on Waldorf Astoria stationery (7 x 4 1/2 in.; 175 x 115 mm), [New York, n.d. but  ca. 1933/34], to Anita Loos, expressing indecision about working with Cole Porter in New York or for Samuel Goldwyn in Hollywood. [With]: Autograph letter signed ("Cecil"), 2 pages on Waldorf Astoria stationery (7 x 4 1/2 in.; 175 x 115 mm), [New York, n.d. but ca. 1933/34], to Anita Loos, asking her to invite his sister and her newlywed husband to lunch at the Studio and complaining about seeing "lousy bad plays" in New York. Both letters in fine condition. [And with]: A watercolor, ink, and charcoal drawing on tan paper (19 x 12 1/2 in.; 483 x 318 mm, sight) of Audrey Hepburn as Liza  Doolittle in her famous black-and-white outfit for the Ascot Races, inscribed to Audrey Hepburn, ca. 1964.  Glazed and framed.

Catalogue Note

A very chatty letter from Cecil Beaton to Hollywood screenwriter and friend, Anita Loos. He notes that he was invited to do the scenery and dresses for a play in New York, with music by Cole Porter, that was being produced by Broadway big Gilbert Miller. However, he serendipitously met Joseph Schenck of 20th Century Fox while crossing the Atlantic for New York. Of the New York option he writes: "[it] might be an amusing opportunity & beginning," but he finds the allure of working in Hollywood as tempting as it is baffling: "but now I have come over on the boat with Joe Schenck & he seemed very pleased with my work & Sam Goldwyn has now proposed that I come out to California as his art director advisor = I am frankly baffled & in such a quandary & write for your help & advice. I would adore many aspects of the job, it would be divine to be out with you but for me Hollywood has lost its first glamour ... Do you think my work would be of importance to them—of course its difficult for you as you haven't seen me or my work for so long—but still you might be able to guess if or not I'd be browbeaten by Hollywood. ...I would be doing neither the designers nor the photographers job but over both & supervising. Sam G. suggested I come out for 6 months but I must be in Englandin June & July ... I'd try it for 3 months —which would stop my doing the Cole Porter show." Beaton then talks about his gadding about New York, seeing  "Men in White," Sidney Kingsley's Pulitzer Prize-winning play about abortion, and dressing the formidible socialite Elsa Maxwell as the Queen in Alice in Wonderland, for her portrait. In the end, Beaton did go to Hollywood where he became artistic director and costumer designer for such blockbuster films as Gigi (1958) and My Fair Lady (1964). Included in the lot is a lovely charcoal and watercolor drawing of Audrey Hepburn as Liza Doolittle in her signature black-and-white  Ascot costume, inscribed to her by Beaton.

In the second letter, Beaton asks Anita Loos to have lunch with his sister and her newlywed husband Sir Hugh Smiley at MGM Studios, where she worked.  He then remarks that he is "sick of seeing lousy bad plays. The new ones are disgraces—Lupe Velez is pornographic & poorTalluloo [Bankhead] though she has scored enormous personal success has got a rotten vehicle."  Beaton quite possibly was referring to her role as Mary Clay in the play Forsaking All Others which opened on Broadway on 1 March 1933 and closed in June of that year.