Cecil Beaton was a fashion, portrait and war photographer, a diarist, painter, interior designer and an Academy Award-winning stage and costume designer. He is one of the most celebrated portrait photographers of the twentieth century and is renowned for his images of elegance, glamour and style.
Portraits by Beaton: Photographs and Diaries combines Beaton's photographic and pen portraits. His images often flattered but his diaries and journals didn't necessarily follow suit; he was described by Jean Cocteau as 'Malice in Wonderland'. Grouped together chronologically in chapters on Bright Young Things, The War Years, High Society, Hollywood Royalty, and The Peacock Revolution, Beaton's portraits offer insight, beauty, witty observations and a fascinating glimpse into his world.
Included are Fred Astaire, Mick Jagger, Marlon Brando ('pallid as a mushroom, smooth-skinned and scarred, with curved feminine lips and silky hair, he seems as unhealthy as a lame duck. Yet his ram-like profile has the harsh strength of the gutter'), Maria Callas, Coco Chanel, Greta Garbo, Audrey Hepburn ('she is like a portrait by Modigliani where the various distortions are not only interesting in themselves but make a completely satisfying composite'), Elizabeth Taylor, Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, Marilyn Monroe ('she romps, she squeals with delight, she leaps on the sofa. It is an artless, impromptu, high-spirited, infectiously gay performance. It will probably end in tears'), Princess Grace, Queen Elizabeth and Winston Churchill.
Cecil Beaton's life spanned many worlds and these are captured here through his fabulous photographs and incisive pen portraits.
SIR CECIL BEATON (1904–80) was educated at Harrow and Cambridge. His photographs first appeared in Vanity Fair and Vogue in the 1920s. During World War II he served in the British Ministry of Information, covering the fighting in Africa and East Asia. The foremost photographer of his day, he also designed the settings and costumes for numerous films and plays, and was a published and well-known diarist. Beaton was knighted in 1972.
HUGO VICKERS is a biographer, lecturer and broadcaster. He was invited to become Cecil Beaton’s authorized biographer in 1979 and has since 1987 served as Beaton’s literary executor.