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Cecil Beaton

British, 1904-1980

Cecil Beaton developed a distinctive style of photography where the subject was immersed in backgrounds made of unusual materials such as paper-mâché or aluminum foil. A socialite who rubbed elbows with royalty, celebrities and the wealthy aristocracy, the British photographer captured some of the most famous names of his time. 

Beaton was born in London in 1904 to a successful lumber merchant and amateur actor. He received his first camera as a gift at age 11. Beaton later attended St. John’s College in Cambridge and studied art, history and architecture. He dropped out in 1925 and went to work in the family lumber business, but his free time was spent absorbed in photography. 

Beaton befriended Sir Osbert Sitwell, who was captivated by his photographs and funded his first exhibition. It was an immediate sensation, leading to work with major magazines.

With a photography contract from Condé Nast, Beaton left for New York. By the end of the 1920s, he had worked as a staff photographer for Vanity Fair and Vogue. He continued to cultivate his unique portraiture style and published his work in several books. One of his greatest achievements was a commission from the British Royal Family in 1939, a relationship which endured for decades. During World War II, he served as a wartime photographer in Africa and East Asia.

After the war, Beaton returned to private portrait commissions. He also began designing costumes and sets for theater and the silver screen, winning an Academy Award for Best Costume Design for Gigi and awards for costume design and art direction for My Fair Lady. He also won costume design Tony awards for the Broadway shows Quadrille, My Fair Lady, Saratoga and Coco. 

Beaton designed the sets and costumes for a production of the opera Turandot at the Metropolitan Opera in New York and then at Covent Garden, London. His diaries, which were scrapbooks of his life and interests, have garnered wide interest, and several volumes of them have been published.

On 1stDibs, find Cecil Beaton’s photography, drawings and watercolors, paintings and more.

Average Sold Price
$1,133
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Meraud Guinness, 1930s - Cecil Beaton (Fashion Portrait Photography)
By Cecil Beaton
Located in London, GB
Meraud Guinness, 1930s - Cecil Beaton (Fashion Portrait Photography) Inkwash signature on mount Stamped with Sotheby's Cecil Beaton studio ink stamp on reverse Silver gelatin print m...
Category

20th Century Cecil Beaton

Materials

Silver Gelatin

Mrs Daisy Fellows, c.1930s - Cecil Beaton (Portrait Photography)
By Cecil Beaton
Located in London, GB
Mrs Daisy Fellows, c.1930s - Cecil Beaton (Portrait Photography) Inscribed 'Mrs Reginald Fellowes' in unknown hand and stamped with Sotheby's Cecil Beat...
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20th Century Cecil Beaton

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Silver Gelatin

Mary Taylor, c.1934 - Cecil Beaton (Portrait Photography/Fashion Photography)
By Cecil Beaton
Located in London, GB
Mary Taylor, c.1934 - Cecil Beaton (Portrait Photography/Fashion Photography) Inscribed 'Mary Taylor' in unknown hand and stamped with photographers copyri...
Category

20th Century Cecil Beaton

Materials

Silver Gelatin

Corinne Griffith, 1930 - Cecil Beaton (Fashion Portrait Photography)
By Cecil Beaton
Located in London, GB
Corinne Griffith, 1930 - Cecil Beaton (Fashion Portrait Photography) Red inkwash signature on mount Inscribed 'Corinne Griffith' in unknown hand and stamped with Sotheby's Cecil Bea...
Category

20th Century Cecil Beaton

Materials

Silver Gelatin

Cecil Beaton - Ballet Costume Design for Le Pavillon, 1936
By Cecil Beaton
Located in London, GB
SIR CECIL BEATON, CBE (1904-1980) Ballet Costume Design for Le Pavillon - 1936 Signed l.r.: Beaton Watercolour, bodycolour and ink 49 by 39 cm., 19 ¼ by 15 ½ in. (frame size 70.5 ...
Category

1930s Realist Cecil Beaton

Materials

Watercolor

"Miss Parlow [as] The Blue Boy Act II Of Landscape w/ Figures" by Cecil Beaton
By Cecil Beaton
Located in Bristol, CT
Original Cecil Beaton (1904-1980) c1950 watercolour 'The Blue Boy' Miss Paulow (UL) signed 'Beaton' (LR) Art Sz: 14 1/2"H x 11"W Frame Sz: 27"H x 22"W
Category

1950s Cecil Beaton

Materials

Watercolor

Cecil Beaton - Watercolour Ballet Costume Design for Le Pavillon - 1936
By Cecil Beaton
Located in London, GB
SIR CECIL BEATON, CBE (1904-1980) Ballet Costume Design for Le Pavillon - 1936 Signed and bears wardrobe mark l.r.: Beaton Watercolour and ink 49 by 39 cm., 19 ¼ by 15 ½ in. (fram...
Category

1930s Realist Cecil Beaton

Materials

Watercolor

The Book Of Beauty
By Cecil Beaton
Located in Bristol, CT
BEATON, Cecil [67] pp. Duckworth Press 1930 11 1/4 x 9" Amazing/ unique copy hand-painted by Cecil Beaton himself w/ his signature 'rose buds' over the polka dot boards 'I have...
Category

20th Century Cecil Beaton

Materials

Paper

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Artists Similar to Cecil Beaton

Cecil Beaton art for sale on 1stDibs.

Find a wide variety of authentic Cecil Beaton art available for sale on 1stDibs. You can also browse by medium to find art by Cecil Beaton in silver gelatin print, paint, watercolor and more. Much of the original work by this artist or collective was created during the 20th century and is mostly associated with the modern style. Not every interior allows for large Cecil Beaton art, so small editions measuring 6 inches across are available. Customers who are interested in this artist might also find the work of Tim Flach, Billy & Hells, and Graham Nash. Cecil Beaton art prices can differ depending upon medium, time period and other attributes. On 1stDibs, the price for these items starts at $495 and tops out at $27,873, while the average work can sell for $8,052.
Questions About Cecil Beaton
  • 1stDibs ExpertApril 5, 2022
    When he was young, Cecil Beaton became enamored by the portraits of high-society women and actresses in the newspapers. At age 11, his nurse taught him how to use a camera and develop film. You can shop a selection of Cecil Beaton’s pieces from some of the world’s top art dealers on 1stDibs.

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