Cecil Beaton Profile

The days here are as crisp and clear as Granny Smiths and while my body is busy my mind is wandering. I've ambled down the path of the Mitford clan and settled in for a nice long visit with Winston Churchill and just when I thought I'd turned the corner and might rejoin the 21st century, I happened upon Cecil Beaton.

Beaton (1904 - 1980) was a creative force in England and the States, primarily known for his photography, but also a set and costume designer, artist and prolific journal writer.

A captivating character, his level of creativity is astounding. Still, while enchanted by his story, I can't stop looking at the pictures.

And then yesterday on a walk, I began to wonder when the fashion of having your portrait done in profile began to fade.

Mr. Blandings's aunt, a woman of inestimable taste, has a stunning black and white portrait of herself and her daughter in profile on her dresser.

It's not a pose most prefer. A view of ourselves with which we are largely unfamiliar. We like to preserve the view that we prepare, the one that we perceive. Full on. Straight ahead. The nose slightly obscured by the energy of the eyes and, in some cases, the halo of hair.

But the world largely sees us from all angles. The jaw weak, the prominent beak, all pieces of a whole that we acknowledge and accept in others but avoid seeing in ourselves.

All images by Cecil Beaton. From top, the photographer's mother, Sir Laurence Olivier, Lady Diane Cooper, Greta Garbo, all from Cecil Beaton, Memoirs of the '40s. The photographer's sisters, Nancy and Baba, and the last image of Beaton himself from The Wandering Years, Diaries: 1922-1939. Second to the last image, Doris Castlerosse from Cecil Beaton, a Biography by Hugo Vickers.