Cecil Beaton
British photographer
Cecil Beaton
Sir Cecil Walter Hardy Beaton, CBE was an English fashion, portrait and war photographer, diarist, painter, interior designer and an Academy Award-winning stage and costume designer for films and the theatre. He was named to the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame in 1970.
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SPECIAL REPORT: FASHION; Mary Katrantzou, as London’s Summer 2012 Shows End
NYTimes - over 5 years
LONDON — To call your own fashion show a car crash would seem a risky business. But what about an inspiration of a crushed metallic Cadillac on a field of vividly colored flowers among the exotic fish in the Pacific Ocean? Fantastic, fabulous and totally original! The last day of the London women’s summer 2012 season opened with the
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THE NEW SEASON; Byzantium to the Bronx, a World of Art
NYTimes - over 5 years
Dates and touring sites are subject to change. SEPTEMBER THE ART OF DISSENT IN 17TH-CENTURY CHINA: MASTERPIECES OF MING LOYALIST ART FROM THE CHIH LO LOU COLLECTION Landscape paintings and calligraphies from a private collection highlight the traumatic collapse of the Ming dynasty. Through Jan. 2 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Manhattan; (212)
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EVENTS; A Pop-Up Shop Previews a Cecil Beaton Show
NYTimes - over 5 years
In anticipation of “Cecil Beaton: The New York Years,” a show opening next month at the Museum of the City of New York , the New York Design Center and 1stdibs will host a pop-up preview, “Cecil Beaton and the 1930s,” on the center’s 10th floor, starting on Friday. Organized by Donald Albrecht and Phyllis Magidson,
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ON THE RUNWAY; Express to the Web
NYTimes - over 5 years
CECIL BEATON produced a torrent of work, not unlike Andy Warhol and Takashi Murakami, who collaborated with Marc Jacobs at Louis Vuitton. In a new book, ''Cecil Beaton: The New York Years,'' Donald Albrecht suggests that his methods of working in a variety of media, his blurring of the lines between art and commerce, and his promotional skills made
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Opening the door on a family's heritage - The Star
Google News - over 5 years
In one room stands the instantly recognisable Cecil Beaton photograph of Dame Edith, poet, writer and style icon who died in 1964. Alexandra looks nothing like her; the eccentric, theatrical dress sense and that strong, hooked nose clearly didn't
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Drug Lords Be Gone! Project Paz Hosts Private Screening of Terrifying Film - Huffington Post (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
The painted Cecil Beaton-esque walls in the dining room? Of course all of that has been washed away with hip-ness, but it was one of New York's little treasures. It was a wonderful relief to have such a friendly welcome into the bar since it was a
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Ritchie in solar panels plan - Salisbury Journal
Google News - over 5 years
... Council seeking permission to put 200 solar panels in the grounds of Ashcombe House, near Tollard Royal. Ritchie bought the Georgian Grade II listed manor house, which was formerly the home of Cecil Beaton, in 2001 with Madonna, his wife at the time
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Portraits – Finborough Theatre - The Good Review
Google News - over 5 years
Hayward Morse displays truly impressive craftsmanship as the only actor who multi-roles, changing between his three characters (Montgomery/Matthew Smith/Cecil Beaton) so convincingly that you forget that it's the same actor. This kind on transformation
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The Queen: Art and Image, review - Telegraph.co.uk
Google News - over 5 years
If there is an antihero in the story it is Cecil Beaton, whose “fairy tale” images of the young Queen were utterly unsuited to her straightforward personality. These photos were far from harmless. By surrounding her with artifice,
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ON THE RUNWAY; From Spies to Brides
NYTimes - over 5 years
TWO years ago everybody seemed to be making a movie about the fashion world. Now they're writing a book. Three biographies of Coco Chanel are coming out, in case you've never heard of the lady from the Rue Cambon. There are also a number of designer monographs, quirky memoirs and elegant surveys from magazine archives. It's a huge season for
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Augustus John: A Life in Portraits Opens at the National Portrait Gallery in ... - Art Daily
Google News - over 5 years
The display of portraits of the artist drawn from the Gallery's Collection includes photographs by Alvin Coburn, Howard Coster, Bill Brandt, Yousuf Karsh, Norman Parkinson, Ida Kar and Cecil Beaton. Charting his early career, relationships,
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Gertrude Stein: A Mixed Metaphor for San Francisco - Huffington Post
Google News - over 5 years
Sir Cecil Beaton, Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas in wallpapered room, 1938, modern digital print from scan of original negative. Courtesy of the Cecil Beaton Archives, Sotheby's, London. Admirably and necessarily, the curators relentlessly make
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Harvey Mackay: Don't let boredom cramp your style - Aspen Times
Google News - over 5 years
The British interior and set designer Cecil Beaton said: “Perhaps the world's second worst crime is boredom. The first is being a bore.” And if you allow yourself to be bored too long, you actually become a bore. What a vicious cycle!
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It's the summer of Gertrude Stein - Sacramento Bee
Google News - over 5 years
18-21 by SFMOMA and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts) and photographers Cecil Beaton and Carl Van Vechten, she still is best known for her friendships with Picasso and Hemingway. "She and Picasso were tight from 1906 to the beginning of the Great War,
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Madame Gres Paris exhibit is ode to draped fashion - Reuters
Google News - over 5 years
Photographed by Cecil Beaton and Horst P. Horst, her gowns were worn by the glitterati from Marlene Dietrich to the Duchess of Windsor. Gres could take 2.8 meters (9 feet) of fabric and reduce it through pleating to 7 cm (2.8 inches)
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An exquisite exhibit: 'Balenciaga in Spain' - El Paso Inc
Google News - over 5 years
Fashion photographer Sir Cecil Beaton called him “Fashion's Picasso.” Fashion scholars hailed him as the “Father of Modern Couture.” The women privileged to wear dresses designed by Cristobal Balenciaga simply called him a genius
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Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Cecil Beaton
    LATE_ADULTHOOD
  • 1980
    Age 76
    In January 1980, he died at Reddish House, his home in Broad Chalke in Wiltshire, at the age of 76.
    More Details Hide Details Major exhibitions have been held at the National Portrait Gallery in London in 1968 and in 2004. The first international exhibition in thirty years, and first exhibition of his works to be held in Australia was held in Bendigo, Victoria from 10 December 2005 to 26 March 2006. In October 2011, the BBC's Antiques Roadshow featured an oil portrait by Beaton of rock star Mick Jagger, whom Beaton meet in the 1960s. The painting, originally sold at the Le Fevre Gallery in 1966, was valued for insurance purposes at £30,000. An exhibition celebrating The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and showing portraits of Her Majesty by Cecil Beaton, opens in October 2011 at the Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle. Cecil Beaton: Theatre of War at the Imperial War Museum, London: major retrospective of Beaton's war photography, held from 6 September 2012 – 1 January 2013.
    The recording was broadcast on Friday 1 February 1980 following the Beaton family's permission, and is now available as a podcast from the BBC Radio 4 Desert Island Disc archive 1976 - 1980.
    More Details Hide Details
    The last public interview given by Sir Cecil Beaton was in January 1980 for an edition of the BBC's Desert Island Discs.
    More Details Hide Details The interviewer was Desert Island Discs' creator Roy Plomley.
  • 1976
    Age 72
    As a result of his stroke, Beaton became anxious about financial security for his old age and, in 1976, entered into negotiations with Philippe Garner, expert-in-charge of photographs at Sotheby's.
    More Details Hide Details On behalf of the auction house, Garner acquired Beaton's archive—excluding all portraits of the Royal Family, and the five decades of prints held by Vogue in London, Paris and New York. Garner, who had almost singlehandedly invented the photographic auction, oversaw the archive's preservation and partial dispersal, so that Beaton's only tangible assets, and what he considered his life's work, would ensure him an annual income. The first of five auctions was held in 1977, the last in 1980. By the end of the 1970s, Beaton's health had faded.
  • 1972
    Age 68
    He was made a Knight Bachelor in the 1972 New Year Honours.
    More Details Hide Details Two years later he suffered a stroke that would leave him permanently paralysed on the right side of his body. Although he learnt to write and draw with his left hand, and had cameras adapted, Beaton became frustrated by the limitations the stroke had put upon his work.
  • FORTIES
  • 1953
    Age 49
    Among the recollections were his associations with stars of Hollywood and British Royalty notably The Duke and Duchess of Windsor (to whom Beaton took their official wedding photographs on 3 June 1937 at relatively short notice); and official portraits of Queen Elizabeth (later Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother) and Her Majesty The Queen on her coronation day on 2 June 1953.
    More Details Hide Details The interview also alluded to a lifelong passion for performing arts and in particular ballet and operetta. The Beaton programme is considered to be almost the final words on an era of 'Bright Young Things' whose sunset had taken place by the time of the abdication of Edward VIII. Beaton commented specifically on Wallis Simpson (later titled The Duchess of Windsor after her marriage to the former king Edward VIII) giving perhaps an insight as to her character that has not at any time been freely expressed (The Duchess of Windsor at the time of the original Beaton interview and broadcast was still alive and living in relative solitude just outside Paris - it quite possible though unconfirmed, that the Duchess may have indeed heard this edition of Desert Island Discs). In closing, Roy Plomley asked Beaton for the one record that he would retain on the Desert Island should the others get washed away on the tide. The immediate reply was Beethoven's Symphony No 1. Beaton's chosen book was a compendium of photographs he had taken down the years of " people known and unknown; people known but now forgotten."
  • 1946
    Age 42
    After the war, Beaton tackled the Broadway stage, designing sets, costumes, and lighting for a 1946 revival of Lady Windermere's Fan, in which he also acted.
    More Details Hide Details His costumes for Lerner and Loewe's My Fair Lady (1956) were highly praised. This led to two Lerner and Loewe film musicals, Gigi (1958) and My Fair Lady (1964), each of which earned Beaton the Academy Award for Costume Design. He also designed the period costumes for the 1970 film On a Clear Day You Can See Forever. Additional Broadway credits include The Grass Harp (1952), The Chalk Garden (1955), Saratoga (1959), Tenderloin (1960), and Coco (1969). He is the recipient of four Tony Awards. He designed the sets and costumes for a production of Puccini’s last opera Turandot, first used at the Metropolitan Opera in New York and then at Covent Garden. Beaton designed the academic dress of the University of East Anglia. Cecil Beaton was a published and well-known diarist. In his lifetime, six volumes of diaries were published, spanning the years 1922–1974. Recently some unexpurgated material has been published. "In the published diaries, opinions are softened, celebrated figures are hailed as wonders and triumphs, whereas in the originals, Cecil can be as venomous as anyone I have ever read or heard in the most shocking of conversation" writes Hugo Vickers.
  • THIRTIES
  • 1938
    Age 34
    Beaton is known for his fashion photographs and society portraits. He worked as a staff photographer for Vanity Fair and Vogue in addition to photographing celebrities in Hollywood. In 1938, he inserted some improper words into American Vogue at the side of an illustration about New York society.
    More Details Hide Details The issue was recalled and reprinted, and Beaton was fired.' Beaton returned to England, where the Queen recommended him to the Ministry of Information. He became a leading war photographer, best known for his images of the damage done by the German blitz. His style sharpened and his range broadened, Beaton's career was restored by the war. Beaton often photographed the Royal Family for official publication. Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother was his favourite royal sitter, and he once pocketed her scented hankie as a keepsake from a highly successful shoot. Beaton took the famous wedding pictures of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor (wearing an haute couture ensemble by the noted American fashion designer Mainbocher). During the Second World War, Beaton was first posted to the Ministry of Information and given the task of recording images from the home front. During this assignment he captured one of the most enduring images of British suffering during the war, that of 3-year-old Blitz victim Eileen Dunne recovering in hospital, clutching her beloved teddy bear. When the image was published, America had not yet officially joined the war, but images such as Beaton’s helped push the Americans to put pressure on their government to help Britain in its hour of need.
  • TWENTIES
  • 1931
    Age 27
    He was a photographer for the British edition of Vogue in 1931 when George Hoyningen-Huene, photographer for the French Vogue travelled to England with his new friend Horst.
    More Details Hide Details Horst himself would begin to work for French Vogue in November of that year. The exchange and cross pollination of ideas between this collegial circle of artists across the Channel and the Atlantic gave rise to the look of style and sophistication for which the 1930s are known.
  • 1927
    Age 23
    Beaton designed book jackets, and costumes for charity matinees, learning the craft of photography at the studio of Paul Tanqueray, until Vogue took him on regularly in 1927.
    More Details Hide Details He set up his own studio, and one of his earliest clients and, later, best friends was Stephen Tennant. Beaton's photographs of Tennant and his circle are considered some of the best representations of the Bright Young People of the twenties and thirties. Beaton's first camera was a Kodak 3A folding camera. Over the course of his career, he employed both large format cameras, and smaller Rolleiflex cameras. Beaton was never known as a highly skilled technical photographer, and instead focused on staging a compelling model or scene and looking for the perfect shutter-release moment.
  • 1925
    Age 21
    Beaton left Cambridge without a degree in 1925.
    More Details Hide Details After a short time in the family timber business, he worked with a cement merchant in Holborn. This resulted in 'an orgy of photography at weekends' so he decided to strike out on his own. Under the patronage of Osbert Sitwell he put on his first exhibition in the Cooling Gallery, London. It caused quite a stir. Believing that he would meet with greater success on the other side of the Atlantic, he left for New York and slowly built up a reputation there. By the time he left, he had "a contract with Condé Nast Publications to take photographs exclusively for them for several thousand pounds a year for several years to come." From 1930 to 1945, Beaton leased Ashcombe House in Wiltshire, where he entertained many notable figures. In 1947, he bought Reddish House, set in 2.5 acres of gardens, approximately to the east in Broad Chalke. Here he transformed the interior, adding rooms on the eastern side, extending the parlour southwards, and introducing many new fittings. Greta Garbo was a visitor.
  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1904
    Age 0
    Beaton was born on 14 January 1904 in Hampstead, the son of Ernest Walter Hardy Beaton (1867–1936), a prosperous timber merchant, and his wife Etty Sissons (1872–1962).
    More Details Hide Details His grandfather, Walter Hardy Beaton (1841–1904), had founded the family business of "Beaton Brothers Timber Merchants and Agents", and his father followed into the business. Ernest Beaton was an amateur actor and met his wife, Cecil's mother Esther ("Etty"), when playing the lead in a play. She was the daughter of a Cumbrian blacksmith named Joseph Sissons and had come to London to visit her married sister. Ernest and Etty Beaton had four children – Cecil, two daughters; Nancy Elizabeth Louise Hardy Beaton (1909–99, who married Sir Hugh Smiley) and Barbara Jessica Hardy Beaton (1912–73, known as Baba, who married Alec Hambro), and son Reginald Ernest Hardy Beaton (1905–33). Cecil Beaton was educated at Heath Mount School (where he was bullied by Evelyn Waugh) and St Cyprian's School, Eastbourne, where his artistic talent was quickly recognised. Both Cyril Connolly and Henry Longhurst report in their autobiographies being overwhelmed by the beauty of Beaton's singing at the St Cyprian's school concerts. When Beaton was growing up his nanny had a Kodak 3A Camera, a popular model which was renowned for being an ideal piece of equipment to learn on. Beaton's nanny began teaching him the basics of photography and developing film. He would often get his sisters and mother to sit for him. When he was sufficiently proficient, he would send the photos off to London society magazines, often writing under a pen name and ‘recommending’ the work of Beaton.
Original Authors of this text are noted here.
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