Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Goodbye, fair lady

The Duchess of Devonshire, the last of the famous (and infamous) Mitford sisters, passed away today at age 94. I'll always admire her for her style, for her tenacity in saving a historic estate and, certainly, for her love of chickens. There will never be another like her. Here is the New York Times obituary.
Here is one of the most famous photos ever taken of her, by Bruce Weber, in which she wears a Balenciaga gown while feeding her chickens. She sold the eggs from the farm shop on the grounds of her estate, Chatsworth.
Taken in 1952 by Norman Parkinson, this photo depicts the duchess in the "Gold Drawing Room" of Chatsworth with a painting of Henry VIII in the background.
Here Deborah is in 1941. The duchess was christened Deborah Mitford and was one of the six fabulous Mitford sisters, an aristocratic bunch that kept the newspaper headlines ablaze throughout the 1930s and 1940s. I've always loved that, despite her family's notoriety and upper crust lineage, Deborah was down to earth. She saved Chatsworth from falling into ruin. And she kept free-range chickens: Leghorns, Buff Cochins, Rhode Island Reds and others. What a dame.


Post a Comment