CECIL BEATON

22 APRIL - 16 MAY 2009

Cecil Beaton (1904-1980) was essential to the cultural life of Britain and beyond in the twentieth century, both as a creator and a recorder. He was a photographer, painter, illustrator, writer and Oscar-winning designer of sets and costumes.

Placing himself at the centre of fashionable society in the 1920s, Beaton was instrumental in presenting and promoting both the Sitwells and their circle and the Bright Young Things that surrounded Stephen Tennant. As published in Vogue, Tatler and Vanity Fair, his portraits and fashion plates summed up the dazzling era with elegance and wit.

Ever the aesthete, Beaton the photographer cultivated a genius for staging compelling scenes. By employing theatrical costumes and props, experimenting with materials and mirrors, and referencing the history of art, he created an extraordinary sense of occasion for each of his sitters.

By the late 1930s, Beaton was so well established that his sitters included stars of stage and screen on both sides of the Atlantic, and even leading members of the Royal Family. During the Second World War, he expanded his repertoire further by taking photographs for the Ministry of Information, on the home front and abroad. Then, after the war, he became part of a new world of glamour: helping to make such icons as Mick Jagger, David Hockney and Andy Warhol, and influencing such significant younger photographers as David Bailey.

As the most comprehensive Beaton exhibition of recent times, the show will combine 64 vintage and modern prints, the latter produced from original negatives drawn from Sotheby's unique archive. Each modern print will be available in an edition of 50, authenticated with the archive's official stamp.

SHELL-SHATTERED CEILING, FIRE STATION, TOBRUK, LIBYA, 1942 by SIR CECIL BEATON CBE (1904-1980) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

SHELL-SHATTERED CEILING, FIRE STATION, TOBRUK, LIBYA, 1942

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