Historical marker at Sir John Everett Millais’ home and studio in the 1860s and 1870s, 7 Cromwell Place, South Kensington, London.

The First Real Party Since the War

A Film Fantasy

For what it’s worth.

There’s a moment in Daniel Farson’s 1993 book The Guilded Gutter Life of Francis Bacon where there’s a description of a party that took place shortly after the end of World War II:

Within a few days Anne [Dunn] and Michael [Wishart] were engaged...Their wedding displayed the extravagance of those accustomed to enjoying wealth without possessing it themselves. The party was held at the [Sir John Everett] Millais studio, where Francis [Bacon] painted his chandeliers crimson and his face a pale shade of pink. Sod [an ageing nightclub hostess christened Edomie, known as Sod, who rose late, drank all the available gin, went shoplifting at lunch, and slept in the afternoon] was maid of honour. Wishart bought two hundred bottles of Bollinger for the two hundred guests, but the gate-crashers invaded and he had to ask the barman Ian Board to bring more supplies from the Colony Room — the drinking room run by Muriel Belcher, who was one of the guests. Others included the Sutherlands and Brenda Dean Paul, the famous drug addict of the twenties, who danced in a scarlet trouser suit on high silver heels, her pageboy hair dyed platinum. At midnight she disappeared with her friend Jean in a hired Daimler, and returned refreshed by the white powder which they distributed with a thimble to revive the wearier guests.

They danced for two days and three nights, and carried on to Wivenhoe in Essex for a two-day regatta given by Denis Wirth-Miller and his friend Dickie Chopping. After five nights of non-stop celebration, Michael and Anne continued to Paris — “unexhausted”. Francis had given them his hundred Waterford glasses...and was so broke after the party that he had to sell his chandeliers. David Tennant, who ran the Gargoyle nightclub, hailed it as “the first real party since the war.”

My film fantasy is to have someone make a period-romp-piece/costume-drag-drama filming of this five-day bacchanal.

Yorgos Lanthimos, maybe.

Exhibition: Zoom-In 1 On Formal Concerns in Visual Art