First Night Design | Those Were the Days | The Café Royal


The CaféŽ Royal, London by William Orpen (1912) © First Night Vintage—Available as Posters, Cards, and Prints

The Café Ž Royal, London by William Orpen (1912) © First Night Vintage—Available as Posters, Cards, and Prints

There were many disadvantages to living in the early years of the 20th century, not least the coming of the ‘War to End All Wars’, which was anything but. Nevertheless, I can’t help dreaming of swanning around in an Edwardian frock or a Twenties flapper dress and the wherewithal to enjoy the delights of London theatre, fine dining and exquisite conversation. My recent post, Café Royal Rose, set me on a journey. But before I could do but a soupçon of research, I was stopped short by finding a copy of William Orpen’s painting on Wikimedia.

I could not pass by without downloading it and working magic with my resizing software (OnOne) to be able to sell it on First Night Vintage. I don’t think any regular followers will be in the least surprised!

The Café’s official site states that in ‘1863, a French wine merchant called Daniel Nicholas Thévenon and his wife Celestine arrived in England in a bid to escape the clutches of creditors in Paris’.

Cafe Royal in 2008 before its recent refurbishment [Wikimedia}
Cafe Royal in 2008 before its refurbishment [Wikimedia]

Those creditors’ losses were London’s gain for the couple created a fine establishment that acquired an enviable reputation with a wine cellar admired the world over and which introduced London to French cuisineCafé Royal’s survival to this day is proof of its legendary status.

Augustus John on board ship [Wikimedia]
Augustus John on board ship [Wikimedia]

Oh, the joy I would have had mixing with the likes of Augustus John (‘The King of Bohemia’) or D H Lawrence, Virginia Woolf or Noël Coward, or even Walter Sickert — very heaven.  Earlier still and I might have been able to dine on the wit of Oscar Wilde. That is, of course, if any of them had been gracious enough to include me in their gatherings. Reputation suggests that Augustus John would have taken me to his bosom and possibly literally! My mother nearly had one such encounter.  In her memoir, she writes about her disappointment at my grandmother’s refusal to let her sit for the artist as he had requested.

Walter Sickert by George Beresford in 1911 [Wikimedia]
Walter Sickert by George Beresford in 1911 [Wikimedia]

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Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah

16 thoughts on “First Night Design | Those Were the Days | The Café Royal

  1. I sometimes feel the same way about the table at the Algonquin in New York, where Dorothy Parker and her friends hung out. I could not have kept up with their witty one-liners, but it would have been great to be ‘a fly on the wall’, observing them from a safe distance.

    Liked by 1 person

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