Australian socialite Molly Fink – Wife of the Rajah of Pudukkottai

Molly Fink (1894 – 1967) was an Australian socialite and wife of Martanda Bhairava Tondaiman, the Raja of the princely state of Pudukkottai. The marriage created a public scandal and resulted in the ostracization of the couple and their only son Martanda Sydney Tondaiman.

From 1922 to 1927 Martanda and Molly lived in Cannes where they bought a villa called La Favourite. At Cannes, Molly developed friendship with Elsa Maxwell,Cecil Beaton, Nancy Beaton, Lord Donegal, Lady Houston and William Locke. The couple frequented social events and held dinner parties. Martanda died at Parison 28 May 1928 at the age of fifty-three.

Following Martanda’s death, Molly’s finances began to dwindle. She sold La Favourite and purchased a house at Mayfair, London where she lived with her son, Sydney.

The Aga Khan proposed to her soon after Martanda’s death, but she rejected his proposal. In her later years, Molly remained aloof and began drinking heavily. She was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 1967. Molly died in Cannes on 22 November 1967 at the age of seventy-three.

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Molly Fink

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Molly Fink by Cecil Beaton

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Molly Fink and the Rajah

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Marlene Dietrich in New York by Cecil Beaton (1937)

Cecil Beaton came to New York in 1928. Through personal connections he gained access to some of Hollywood’s biggest stars–including Marlene Dietrich (source).

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Portrait of Marlene Dietrich in New York by Cecil Beaton, 1937.

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Portrait of Marlene Dietrich in New York by Cecil Beaton, 1937.

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Lee and Jackie at a Debutante Ball (1951)

 

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Jackie Kennedy Onassis and Lee Radziwill by Cecil Beaton for Vogue at a debutante ball, 1951.

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Lee Radziwill and Jackie Kennedy Onassis by Cecil Beaton for Vogue at a debutante ball, 1951.

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by Cecil Beaton, 10 x 8 inch bromide contact print, January 1951

Jacqueline Kennedy-Onassis by Cecil Beaton for Vogue, 1951.

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by Cecil Beaton, bromide print, January 1951

Lee Radziwill by Cecil Beaton for Vogue at a debutante ball, 1951.

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Vintage Photos of Bloomsbury Clique Society Hostess Lady Ottoline Morrell

Lady Ottoline Violet Anne Morrell (1873 – 1938) was an English aristocrat and society hostess. She was part of the literary Bloomsbury clique, along with Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West, Lytton Strachey, Clive and Vanessa Bell, E.M. Forster and more.

Perhaps Lady Ottoline’s most interesting literary legacy is the wealth of representations of her that appear in 20th-century literature. She was the inspiration for Mrs Bidlake in Aldous Huxley’s Point Counter Point, for Hermione Roddice in D. H. Lawrence’s Women in Love, for Lady Caroline Bury in Graham Greene’s It’s a Battlefield, and for Lady Sybilline Quarrell in Alan Bennett’s Forty Years On. The Coming Back (1933), another novel which portrays her, was written by Constance Malleson, one of Ottoline’s many rivals for the affection of Bertrand Russell. Some critics consider her the inspiration for Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley. Huxley’s roman à clef, Crome Yellow depicts the life at a thinly-veiled Garsington, one of her estates.

Non-literary portraits are also part of this interesting legacy, for example, as seen in the artistic photographs of her by Cecil Beaton. There are portraits by Henry Lamb, Duncan Grant, Augustus John, and others. Carolyn Heilbrun edited Lady Ottoline’s Album (1976), a collection of snapshots and portraits of Morrell and of her famous contemporaries, mostly taken by Morrell herself.

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Portrait of Lady Ottoline Morrell by George Charles Beresford, 4 June 1903

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Lady Ottoline Morrell by Cavendish Morton

platinum print, 1905

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Portrait of Lady Ottoline Morrell by Adolf de Meyer, c. 1912

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Lady Ottoline Morrell by Baron Adolph de Meyer
platinum print, 1912

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Lady Ottoline Morrell, by Cecil Beaton (1927)

© Cecil Beaton Studio Archive, Sotheby’s London

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Lady Ottoline Morrell, 1929.

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NPG Ax142145; Lady Ottoline Morrell ('Mummy in her bedroom at Amerongen') by Lady Ottoline Morrell

Lady Ottoline Morrell in her bedroom at Amerongen, 1925.

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Wallis Simpson in the Lobster Dress

During the 1930s, Wallis Simpson was a frequent subject of Cecil Beaton’s photographs.

Shortly before Wallis’s marriage to the Duke of Windsor in May 1937, Cecil Beaton was asked to take some official photographs of the bride-to-be at the Château de Candé, where she was staying as a guest of Charles Bedeaux.

Since many of the past photographs of Simpson were unflattering, Beaton had a bright idea and suggested more romantic-looking pictures, including an image of her standing in the château’s garden wearing the Schiaparelli Lobster dress. The infamous lobster dress was a design collaboration with Salvador Dalí that grew out of the lobsters that started appearing in the artist’s work in 1934.

Beaton took almost a hundred photographs during the session with Simpson, and Vogue devoted an eight-page spread to the results (source).

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 Wallis Simpson in the infamous Schiaparelli dress decorated in the Dali lobster print

by Cecil Beaton (1937)

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 Wallis Simpson in the infamous Schiaparelli dress decorated in the Dali lobster print

by Cecil Beaton (1937)

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