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Cecil Beaton

From Academic Kids

Sir Cecil Walter Hardy Beaton (January 14, 1904January 18, 1980) was an English fashion and portrait photographer.

Educated at Harrow and St. John's College, Cambridge, Beaton picked up photography on his own. He taught himself the tricks of the trade as a young boy, taking the usual pictures of friends and family. At the end of his college career in 1925, he had set up his own successful photography studio. 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 "young England" of the twenties and thirties.

Beaton is best 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. He also worked as a stage and film designer, including the musicals Gigi (1958) and My Fair Lady (1965).

He started off taking photographs with a large format camera, but in the 1940s, he switched to the lighter Rolleiflex camera. His style was to always use available light when possible and to shoot in a straight-forward manner.

When he returned to London, he was honored as the official photographer to the Royal Family. During the second world war, he worked for the British Ministry of Information, as a documentary photographer.

In 1972, he received his knighthood, but suffered a stroke two years later. This hindered him from photographing for five years. He picked up the camera again for a short while in 1979, but died the following year.

Though primarily homosexual -- the great love of his life was the millionaire art collector Peter Watson -- he did have relationships with women, including the actress Greta Garbo and socialite Doris Castlerosse. He claimed that his heterosexual virginity was taken by American socialite Marjorie Oelrichs.

Notable Photographs

  • Elizabeth II's Coronation, 1953.
  • Audrey Hepburn, 1964.
  • Bomb Victim, 1940.
  • Dame Edith Sitwell, 1956.

Books by Cecil Beaton

  • Persona Grata, 1953.


Exhibitions

Major exhibitions have been held at the National Portrait Gallery in London in 1968 and in 2004 and elswhere.


External Links

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