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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.

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Creator: Cecil Beaton
Beaton In Vogue 1st Edition Hardcover Book
By Cecil Beaton
Located in Stamford, CT
Beaton In Vogue 1st Edition hardcover book. Beaton in Vogue By Josephine Ross. Published by Clarkson N. Potter, First American Edition, 1986. 24...
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1980s American Hollywood Regency Vintage Cecil Beaton

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Paper

Grand Canal of Venice Watercolor
By Cecil Beaton
Located in West Palm Beach, FL
This stylish and beautiful watercolor of the Grand Canal of Venice was painted by Cecil Beaton and dates to the 1920s. The piece was acquired from a Pa...
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Early 20th Century Italian Romantic Cecil Beaton

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Antique Pair Oil Paintings Grand Canal Venice Alfred Pollentine, 19th Century
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Previously Available Items
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Beaton in the Sixties, the Cecil Beaton Diaries as He Wrote Them 1965-1969
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"Cecil Beaton – A Retrospective" Book - 1986
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Cecil Beaton Book, "Japanese" - 1959
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Cecil Beaton, Design for Dancer "La Dame Aux Camélias, " Signed and Dated
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Cecil Beaton furniture for sale on 1stDibs.

Cecil Beaton furniture are available for sale on 1stDibs. These distinctive items are frequently made of paper and are designed with extraordinary care. There are many options to choose from in our collection of Cecil Beaton furniture, although gray editions of this piece are particularly popular. Many of the original furniture by Cecil Beaton were created in the mid-century modern style in europe during the 20th century. If you’re looking for additional options, many customers also consider furniture by Steve Schapiro, Mario Buatta, and Stan Galli. Prices for Cecil Beaton furniture can differ depending upon size, time period and other attributes — on 1stDibs, these items begin at $150 and can go as high as $6,800, while a piece like these, on average, fetch $1,000.

Creators Similar to Cecil Beaton

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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