Cecil Beaton

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Cecil Beaton in the early 1940s

Sir Cecil Walter Hardy Beaton CBE (born January 14, 1904 in London , † January 18, 1980 in Broad Chalke , England ) was a British photographer , set designer and graphic artist .


Cecil Beaton in the early 1920s

Beaton was born Cecil Walter Hardy Beaton in London in 1904 into a family of merchants. After dropping out of an apprenticeship desired by his father, he tried successfully as a freelance portrait photographer.

In 1930 he met the English art collector and patron Peter Watson in Vienna , with whom he fell passionately in love. Watson did not return love, but he maintained a close friendship and promoted Beaton, with whom he traveled extensively.

In the 1930s Beaton worked for Vogue and Harper's Bazaar in the United States . From 1937 he was court photographer for the British royal family. During World War II he worked for the British Ministry of Information in Africa and the Far East. After the war Beaton worked with great success as an illustrator , painter , writer and chronicler and designed sets and costumes for film (such as My Fair Lady ), theater and opera . In 1956 Beaton was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire . In 1972 he was raised to the nobility by Queen Elizabeth II as a Knight Bachelor .

1947 bought Beaton Reddish House , one in Broad Chalke in the county of Wiltshire situated mansion from the early 18th century, and designed the interior to. He added rooms on the east side, expanded the salon to the south, and added numerous new furnishings. Several prominent guests visited him here, including Francis Bacon (painter) , David Hockney and Dorian Leigh , and had them portray them. Beaton lived in this house until his death in 1980.


As one of the most remarkable photographers of the 20th century, Beaton is famous for his glamorous portraits of world-famous faces from the world of fashion , literature and film and for his fashion shots, which have been staged with a lot of decorative effort. He exposed half a century with his camera, from the “ Roaring Twenties ” to pop culture in “ Swinging London ” of the 1960s and 1970s.

The war photographer, who captured scenes of misery and destruction in surreal images in England, the Middle and Far East, has a disturbing effect. His photos of the destruction in London in particular shaped the image of the “ lightning ” in the United States , including a photo of three-year-old Eileen Dunne, who was hit by a splinter in an attack and which Beaton photographed with her teddy bear in her sickbed . The picture appeared on September 23, 1940 as the cover of Life magazine and was subsequently used for the poster campaign promoting the United States' entry into the war.

Critics accuse Beaton of being less of an innovator than a decorator - despite all his craftsmanship - even if, during the war years, he put an orphan bomb with an emergency dummy or mannequins among rubble in an apparently objective light, that is just the new look of a radically changed one Zeitgeist to which this glamor boy reacted perfectly.




  • L. Fritz Gruber (Ed.): Great Photographers of our Century. Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 1964, p. 104 ff.
  • Terence Pepper (Ed.): Cecil Beaton. Portraits. Hatje Cantz Verlag, Ostfildern 2005, ISBN 3-7757-1582-7 .
  • Philip Garner, David Allan Mellor: The Essential Cecil Beaton. Photography 1920–1970. Revised edition. Schirmer Mosel, Munich 2012, ISBN 978-3-8296-0609-7 .


Web links

Commons : Cecil Beaton  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. See Michael Prodger: Queer Saint 'Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants , in: The Independent, April 29, 2015, online
  2. Eileen Dunne in The Hospital for Sick Children, 1940 ( Memento of the original from August 12, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.npg.gov.au
  3. Dietmar Süß: Death from the air. War society and aerial warfare in Germany and England. Siedler, Munich 2011, ISBN 978-3-88680-932-5 , p. 99 (also: Jena, Universität, habilitation paper, 2010).
  4. Love, Cecil on IMDb