Fifteen

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Parasols, Southwold

1923 by Joseph Southall
Bridgeman Art Library

What is remarkable about this picture is the ability of the twenties’ style of drawing to encompass, and in a way transform, a day at the British beach. A day at the seaside becomes something that seems to exude the wealth and decadence of a time. Twenties fashion is iconic; there has perhaps never been such a distinct style that captured the spirit of an age so well. The ladies’ faces are nonchalant and oval; there are high-heels on the beach; fabric and clothes everywhere and, as the title professes, they have Chinese style parasols, not umbrellas. It is amusing to us now to think of such days in Southwold; we haven’t always needed to travel so far for paradise. Indeed, the image looks blissful, possessing the warmth of summer, told through a haze of pastel colours, glistening waters and glowing sands.

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