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Through the Lens of Janet Stone
Janet Stone's photograph albums feature informal portraits from the mid-twentieth century of many of the leading cultural figures and personalities of the day. The wife of the distinguished engraver Reynolds Stone established a kind of literary salon in the idyllic setting of the Old Rectory at Litton Cheney in West Dorset. Here their wide circle of friends could visit, work and flourish as Janet photographed them.
Included between these pages are portraits of Benjamin Britten, Peter Pears, John Piper, Iris Murdoch, John Bayley, C. Day-Lewis, Jill Balcon, Kenneth Clark, Freya Stark, Siegfried Sassoon, Willa Muir, Sylvia Townsend Warner and Frances Partridge as well as Janet's husband Reynolds and her family. Although not a technical photographer, Janet instinctively knew the best moment to click the shutter, thus often capturing her subjects off-guard and at their most informal. In this way we see picnics by the tennis court, John Bayley trying on a headscarf, or a young Daniel Day-Lewis dressed up as a knight. Others are portrayed reading or relaxing in the gardens, drink in hand.
These unique portraits give a beguiling insight into a special set of circumstances: an idyllic place and time and a group of people drawn together by two contrasting but complimentary personalities, the shy genius of Reynolds and the outgoing style and glamour of Janet Stone.
Ian Archie Beck is an author, illustrator and printmaker.