1924: Cecil Beaton, the self-titled “Last Dandy of the British Empire” sold his first photos to Vogue magazine and became one of the world’s best-known photographers. A new Schirmer/Mosel bound photography collection entitled “The Essential Cecil Beaton” brings together some of his finest work: romantic, pointed, and above all, authentic.
Cecil Beaton (1904-1980) considered himself a “fanatical aesthete”, a man who held style and elegance close to his heart. Fascinated with photography from a very young age, the young Beaton collected snapshots of famous actresses that were issued as postcards. These treasures helped the future star to learn the basics of the art form that was to accompany him for the rest of his life.
Over the course of his life, the perpetually restless Beaton engaged himself as theatre designer, film outfitter, author, and master of ceremonies of the London high society and well-to-do bohemians. His fame however, came from his fashion and society photographs. Instinctively sure of how to capture the essence of style, he documented the faces and history of his entire epoch without shying away from the truth – but also without neglecting his love of gentle beauty. As house photographer of the British Royal Family, he would leave palaces and hop aboard the London underground, noting the societal extremes that he was exposed to.
Cecil Beaton – fanatical aesthete
This opulent collection of Beaton’s work was pieced together by experts Philippe Garner and David Alan Mellor. Philippe Garner works as senior director at Christie’s auctions, and has been a photography, design and decorative art specialist at international auctions for over 40 years. David Alan Mellor is an art history professor at the University of Sussex, the author of numerous publications about 20th century English art and photography, and has curated many gallery exhibits focusing on the London art scene of the 1960s. Working together, the two experts have created an impressive representation of the scope and influence of Beaton’s art. Complete with informative texts, readers will find themselves immersed in the world of the talented photographer after only a few pages – from dignified portraits of actor Gary Cooper that offer a nod to the postcards of his youth, all the way to the surrealistic whims of Salvador Dalí, a remarkable amount of ground is covered.
“The Essential Cecil Beaton – Photos from 1920-1970”, Schirmer/Mosel, 320 pages with 265 photos in monochrome and color, €49,80.