Cecil Beaton at Wilton, until 14th September, 2014
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.
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.
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.
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.
I hope that the exhibition gives as much pleasure and inspiration to visitors as it has to us.”