Wilton House will pay tribute to the life and work of the photographer, writer and Oscar-winning designer Cecil Beaton (1904-1980) with a new exhibition of photographs from Sotheby’s Cecil Beaton Studio Archive, designed and curated by Jasper Conran. Capturing the spirit of country house parties and costume balls, the exhibition will showcase previously unseen images from one of Britain’s most celebrated photographers, giving a fascinating glimpse into his life and a vivid portrait of a charmed age.
Described as ‘a worldly Peter Pan’ who never aged, Cecil Beaton was at the forefront of the fashion for costume and pageantry which swept through British society in the 1920s. As fancy dress became a popular feature of country house parties, and costume balls a highlight of the social calendar, Beaton seamlessly integrated his high-society personal life with his professional artistic quest to experiment with photography and fashion. Using the settings of Britain’s grandest country houses as the perfect backdrop, Beaton persuaded his friends to sit for him in their exotic costumes, often designed by him, for these most unconventional of photographs. This exhibition gives understanding to what the Bright young things got up to at costume balls from the roaring 20s to the 1960s.
Staged at Wilton House and presented by Sotheby’s in Wiltshire where Beaton was entertained by his friends the Pembroke family at grand parties and pageants for over 50 years, the exhibition will run between 18th– 21st April and 3rd May – 14th September 2014.