Cecil Beaton
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Cecil Beaton Life & Family, Photographers - 𝐂𝐞𝐜𝐢𝐥 𝐁𝐞𝐚𝐭𝐨𝐧 Biography
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Sir Cecil Walter Hardy Beaton
Heath Mount SchoolSt Cyprian's SchoolEastbourneSt John's CollegeCambridge
Hampstead, London, England
Male
Ernest Walter Hardy Beaton (1867–1936)
Etty Sissons (1872–1962)
Capricorn
Hampstead, London, England
76
Reddish House, Broad Chalke, Wiltshire, England
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Who is Cecil Beaton?

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Sir Cecil Walter Hardy Beaton was an English photographer best known for his portraits of celebrities captured in avant-garde settings. A famous characteristic of his work was that he would go to any lengths to capture a particular look—subjects were made to lie down, climb trees, perch upon a ladder or simply wear a poker face in order for him to take innovative photographs. His fascination with photography began when he used to look at pictures of society women and celebrities in magazines as a young boy. He received his first camera when he was 11 and thus began his long term love affair with images and photography. His two younger sisters became his first models and they readily humored their brother by posing for him in imaginative costumes. He had no interest in academics and though he went to college for sometime he dropped out before graduation. He started working for the British edition of ‘Vogue’ where he became famous for his fashion photographs and society portraits. During the Second World War, he became the country’s leading war photographer and captured the horrors of the war in poignant details in his photographs. He also worked as a stage and costume designer for which he won an Academy Award.

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Cecil Beaton Childhood & Early Life

He was the eldest son of Ernest Walter Hardy Beaton and Etty Sissons. His father was a timber merchant with a well established business. Cecil had three younger siblings - one brother and two sisters.

He attended Heath Mount School and St. Cyprian’s School. He was artistically very gifted and was a good painter and a singer.

He received a camera for his eleventh birthday and developed a lifelong fascination with photography. He used to dress up his little sisters in elaborate costumes and take their pictures.

He enrolled at St. John’s College, Cambridge, to study history, art, and architecture. He continued pursuing photography as a hobby. Realizing that he had no real interest in academia, he quit college in 1925.

Cecil Beaton Career

He joined his father’s timber business but found the work to be incredibly boring. He had an equally unsuccessful experience as an office worker with a cement manufacturer.

He realized that his real passion was photography and held his first exhibition under the patronage of Osbert Sitwell in the Cooling gallery in London. The exhibition was a hit, and introduced the new talent to the world of photography.

He went to New York in 1928. There he became acquainted with the editors of ‘Vogue’ and ‘Vanity fair’. Over the next few decades he would work for both the magazines and specialize in fashion photographs and society portraits.

In 1930 he published a collection of his portraits called ‘The Book of Beauty’.

He secured a 15-year lease on Ashcombe, a 18th century mansion where the society people got together on weekends for performing amateur plays.

He was often invited to photograph the Royal Family for official publication.

He had taken several pictures of the Queen Mother, Queen Elizabeth, and also served as the wedding photographer at the marriage of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

He was posted to the Ministry of Information during the Second World War and was assigned to shoot pictures of the war front. He captured the horrors of the war through his lenses and brought them to the world. One of his most poignant pictures was of a little girl hugging a teddy bear as she lay wounded in a hospital.

After the war he tried his hand at stage and costume designing. He designed the stage, sets and costumes for a revival of the play ‘Lady Windermere’s Fan’ (1946), ‘The Grass Harp’ (1952), ‘The Chalk Garden’ (1955), ‘Saratoga’ (1959) and ‘Coco’ (1969).

Over the next few decades he actively designed the stages and costumes for several plays including ‘My Fair Lady’ (1956) which led to film offers. He reprised his role of stage and costume designers for the film musicals ‘Gigi’ in 1958 and ‘My Fair Lady’ in 1964.

He was also a noted diarist, famous for his acerbic tone of describing people. He published six volumes of his diaries while he was alive (from 1922 till 1974).

Cecil Beaton Major Works

As a fashion and portrait photographer he was famous for clicking the pictures of high profiles celebrities like Greta Garbo and Queen Elizabeth. His war time photographs are said to be pivotal in convincing America to help Britain during the difficult war period.

He was also a stage and costume designer for Broadway plays and films, a work which earned him much acclaim and several prestigious awards.

Cecil Beaton Awards & Achievements

He is the recipient of two Academy Awards for Best Costume Design: ‘Gigi’ (1958) and ‘My Fair Lady’ (1964).

He won the Tony Award for Best Costume Design four times (1955, 1957, 1960 and 1970).

Cecil Beaton Personal Life & Legacy

He had been in relationships with several men and women including swordsman Kin Hoitsma, actresses Greta Garbo and Coral Browne. For years he was obsessed with the art collector Peter Watson though the two men were never in a relationship.

He suffered a stroke in 1972 that left him completely paralyzed on the right side of his body. His health deteriorated over the next few years and he died in January 1980.

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Cecil Beaton awards

  • Other

    • 1960
      Tony Award for Best Costume Design
    • 1960
      Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur
    • 1964
      Academy Award for Best Art Direction
    • 1964
      Academy Award for Costume Design
    • 1970
      Tony Award for Best Costume Design
    • 1955 - Tony Award for Best Costume Design
    • 1957 - Tony Award for Best Costume Design
    • 1958 - Academy Award for Costume Design
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Cecil Beaton biography timelines

  • He was the eldest son of Ernest Walter Hardy Beaton and Etty Sissons. His father was a timber merchant with a well established business. Cecil had three younger siblings - one brother and two sisters.
    14th Jan 1904
  • He was also a noted diarist, famous for his acerbic tone of describing people. He published six volumes of his diaries while he was alive (from 1922 till 1974).
    1922 To 1974
  • He enrolled at St. John’s College, Cambridge, to study history, art, and architecture. He continued pursuing photography as a hobby. Realizing that he had no real interest in academia, he quit college in 1925.
    1925
  • He went to New York in 1928. There he became acquainted with the editors of ‘Vogue’ and ‘Vanity fair’. Over the next few decades he would work for both the magazines and specialize in fashion photographs and society portraits.
    1928
  • In 1930 he published a collection of his portraits called ‘The Book of Beauty’.
    1930
  • After the war he tried his hand at stage and costume designing. He designed the stage, sets and costumes for a revival of the play ‘Lady Windermere’s Fan’ (1946), ‘The Grass Harp’ (1952), ‘The Chalk Garden’ (1955), ‘Saratoga’ (1959) and ‘Coco’ (1969).
    1946 To 1969
  • He won the Tony Award for Best Costume Design four times (1955, 1957, 1960 and 1970).
    1955 To 1970
  • Over the next few decades he actively designed the stages and costumes for several plays including ‘My Fair Lady’ (1956) which led to film offers. He reprised his role of stage and costume designers for the film musicals ‘Gigi’ in 1958 and ‘My Fair Lady’ in 1964.
    1956 To 1964
  • He is the recipient of two Academy Awards for Best Costume Design: ‘Gigi’ (1958) and ‘My Fair Lady’ (1964).
    1958 To 1968
  • He suffered a stroke in 1972 that left him completely paralyzed on the right side of his body. His health deteriorated over the next few years and he died in January 1980.
    18th Jan 1980
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Frequently asked questions about Cecil Beaton

  • What is Cecil Beaton birthday?

    Cecil Beaton was born at January 14, 1904

  • Where is Cecil Beaton's birth place?

    Cecil Beaton was born in Hampstead, London, England

  • What is Cecil Beaton nationalities?

    Cecil Beaton's nationalities is British

  • Who is Cecil Beaton siblings?

    Cecil Beaton's siblings is Barbara, Nancy, Reginald

  • What was Cecil Beaton universities?

    Cecil Beaton studied at Heath Mount School, St Cyprian's School, Eastbourne, St John's College, Cambridge university

  • Who is Cecil Beaton's father?

    Cecil Beaton's father is Ernest Walter Hardy Beaton (1867–1936)

  • Who is Cecil Beaton's mother?

    Cecil Beaton's mother is Etty Sissons (1872–1962)

  • What is Cecil Beaton's sun sign?

    Cecil Beaton is Capricorn

  • When was Cecil Beaton died?

    Cecil Beaton was died at January 18, 1980

  • Where was Cecil Beaton died?

    Cecil Beaton was died in Reddish House, Broad Chalke, Wiltshire, England

  • Which age was Cecil Beaton died?

    Cecil Beaton was died at age 76