Monday, August 23, 2010

Foreign Correspondents

According to Billy Baldwin, after Lady Kenmare died,

"Rory suddenly felt bored with all of France, including Paris. He just somehow just didn't know what kind of a place he wanted to go to, and he made a very quick and unfortunate decision to go to Ireland, only because there was a lovely house there that he wanted. It was one of the best examples in the world: never buy a house somewhere just because of the house - you must as well buy the place, the people, and everything about it. Rory took all his furniture with him to Ireland and his house there was a distinct failure."

In the annals of twentieth-century interior design, Roderick Cameron is more glimpsed than seen directly. That he was a big influence on Van Day Truex, Billy Baldwin and David Hicks is undeniable, and to read his essay on his house in Menerbes is to become aware of a decided disposition, a lover of gardens, of houses, and of friends.  A man who, because he was not a decorator by profession, is not counted amongst the good and the great, except by those that knew him. Cameron the man, the friend, the mentor, the decorator, the designer of houses, was clearly beloved by those who knew him well.

I often wondered what Roderick Cameron's house in Ireland was like - this "distinct failure"according to Billy Baldwin, though it is likely he meant the life lived in it rather than the house itself - but I could never find photographs until recently. Actually, I did not find them, they found me.

I've been corresponding with two people who worked for Roderick Cameron and very gratifying it has been, learning a little more about him - not the least for what I learned about double standards (not, I hasten to add, on the part of my correspondents). But more of that later...

Completely unexpectedly, there came an email from someone who'd commented anonymously here saying that she'd remembered seeing photos of Cameron's Paris apartment in an old magazine which, a couple of days later, having gone looking for it, she found in her library and was kind enough to scan and send to me.

I'll let her tell you:

"It's sychronicitous (is that a real word?), to say the least that I should have googled Menerbes and Les Quatres Sources more or less the same time you posted your blog. I hadn't done so for ages - but I was in France at the time (although in the Dordogne) so I suppose it was on my mind.

"... I seem to recall that there was also an article about Rory Cameron in a magazine called Connaissance des Arts, featuring his apartment in Paris - did you ever see that? He was also featured... under the heading, 'Who is the man with perfect taste?', mentioning his tablescapes and quoting the words of (the late) David Hicks, who was a guest at Les Quatre Source when I was there, with his wife, Lady Pamela. 

"At the time I was working there, I was really far too young to realize what an extraordinary place it was, which is why I didn't take many pictures. Of course, one didn't photograph things obsessively in those days, the way one does now, so maybe I wouldn't have anyway!" 

A few days later my out-of-the-blue correspondent added this:

"Hello - replying briefly in haste to tell you the astounding news that I have located the copy of Connaissance des Arts (Sept 1980), although it doesn't feature the Paris appt - don't know where I saw that - only Les Quatre Sources and RC's house in Ireland (Donegal). 

As I said, I have been corresponding with two people who worked for Roderick Cameron. Later this week  I shall post about what the second correspondent wrote. 


  1. what comes to you is always such a surprise! of course these rooms are perfect at least these images-nothing that does not say of the moment not to mention a man ahead of his time. we always take ourselves along with the furniture. I can not wait to see more and hear another account. Blue You are preserving something special that is hard to imagine in this day(as your benefactor said)- to be just about to slip away-gone with the magazine. pgt

  2. What a great piece of research, with fascinating results. Intrigued to learn of "part II" !!

  3. Such an interesting epistle. I can't wait to see what happens next!

  4. little augury, thank you. Roderick Cameron is proving to be very interesting in a couple of ways and I shall be writing more about him and probably his circle too.

    Columnist, thank you, it was research that found me rather than the other way round, and I am grateful for it.

    Daniel-Halifax, thank you. There will be more about Cameron.

  5. Hello Blue, I see my comment didn't register. I had missed the first leaf of this story with the sculptural staircase, so I'm glad this post brought me back to it. Your 'suite' is eagerly awaited!

  6. le style et la matiere, if you commented previous to this then you're right it did not register. I hope you did not think I was ignoring you! I'll catch up with Roderick Cameron on Friday.