Cecil Beaton at Wilton

Cecil Beaton at Wilton, until 14th September, 2014

East Front of Wilton House  ©Wilton House Trust

East Front of Wilton House
©Wilton House Trust

This exhibition is a celebration of Cecil Beaton’s friendship with the Pembroke family whose ancestral home is Wilton House. From attending his first ball there in 1927 (he was thrown in the river) to a birthday lunch in January, 1980, just three days before his death, he photographed and recorded the lives of three generations of the family. Beaton lived nearby firstly at Ashcombe and then at Reddish.

Cecil Beaton in “All the Vogue”, Cambridge, 1925 © The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive

Cecil Beaton in “All the Vogue”, Cambridge, 1925
© The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive

The photographs from Sotheby’s Cecil Beaton Studio Archive reveal a world of pageants, costume balls and country house parties and show Beaton’s flair for creating fancy dress and mis-en-scène. So it is no wonder that as well as being a celebrated photographer for Vogue and Vanity Fair, he would win Oscars in the cinema and Tony awards in theatre for his designs.

Alice von Hofmannsthal, Ashcombe,1937, in her Costume for "The Gardener's Daughter" for "The Anti Dud Ball" at the Dorchester Hotel, 13 July 1937 © The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive

Alice von Hofmannsthal, Ashcombe,1937, in her Costume for “The Gardener’s Daughter” for “The Anti Dud Ball” at the Dorchester Hotel, 13 July 1937
© The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive

He was fortunate in that he was able to combine his personal life with his artistic pursuits and so we in our turn can enjoy it in this new exhibition space at Wilton. The stylish show is designed and curated by Jasper Conran.

Wilton House Cecil Beaton © The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive

Wilton House Cecil Beaton
© The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive

The Countess of Pembroke in her Robes for the Coronation of George VI, 1937 © The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive

The Countess of Pembroke in her Robes for the Coronation of George VI, 1937
© The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive

Lord Pembroke says: “There is a strong family connection with Cecil Beaton and although I was too young to remember him, my mother and older sisters certainly have very fond memories of him here at Wilton.

The images that have been chosen are fascinating both as social history and also for their technical brilliance. Beaton was a genius when it came to studio photography, but he also excelled at capturing spontaneous shots of pure joy.

Lady Plunket (Dorothé) and Mr Maurice, 1937 © The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive

Lady Plunket (Dorothé) and Mr Maurice, 1937
© The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive

I hope that the exhibition gives as much pleasure and inspiration to visitors as it has to us.”

Rex Whistler, 1927 © The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive

Rex Whistler, 1927
© The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive

http://www.wiltonhouse.co.uk

Palladian Bridge at Wilton House ©Wilton House Trust

Palladian Bridge at Wilton House
©Wilton House Trust

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