Trompe Foolery

Lady Diana Cooper by Derry Moore

After seeing Lady West's yachting cap homage to the great Diana Cooper here, yours truly just had to show off and remark on the Rex Whistler painted decoration behind her which I had seen before and included in Regency Redux.

Duff and Diana Cooper's London flat decorated by Sibyl Colefax, 1937

Well, Ms. Know-it-all was a little hasty - as Toby Worthington kindly pointed out, the trompe l'oeil trophies in the Derry Moore portrait were done by Martin Battersby in the 1950s for the Coopers' French chateau in Chantilly and later relocated to London.

Battersby was a one-time assistant to the hyper-competitive Cecil Beaton who was no doubt peeved that Diana, a close friend, didn't consult him instead.

One example of Beaton's cut-throat tendencies was when fellow designer Oliver Messel asked Beaton his opinion on the considerable fee Messel was proposing for designing the sets of Caesar and Cleopatra, Beaton told him it was fine and then submitted his own estimate at a much reduced rate. Meow!

Another view of the Battersby trophies - AND the Regency sofa which also featured in the 1937 Colefax scheme

Battersby photographed by Angus McBean in 1960

I was mortified by my misappropriation of the facts on several counts - not least of all that I didn't give credit to one of my heroes of interior design history. He didn't just give us magnificently conceived and realized decorative schemes...

such as this one for Lady Kenmare at La Fiorentina in St Jean Cap Ferrat (later purchased by advertising dymano Mary Wells Lawrence ), but two of my favorite books The Decorative Twenties and The Decorative Thirties, without which no design library is complete. That I do know.

Battersby's jazzy hall decorated with blue and silver paper and textiles of his own design