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Cecil Beaton (British, 1904-1980)

Photography

Also known as:  Beaton, Cecil; Beaton, Sir Cecil Walter Hardy; Cecil Walter Hardy Beaton; Cecil (Walter Hardy) Beaton

Birth Place: London, England, UK

Biography:

Who was photographer Cecil Beaton?

Cecil Beaton was a photographer and stage designer whose dual careers made him extremely popular during his lifetime. His time as the photographer for the British edition of the magazine Vogue helped to shape much of the trans-Atlantic art exchange that defined the 1930s style in both New York and England. Best known for his fashion photography and society portraits, Cecil Beaton also photographed for the Ministry of Information during World War II. His iconic photos of the air raids in London have a visceral feel that still gives the viewer a gut punch today. In fact, it’s said that his photograph of a 3-year-old recovering in a hospital was one of the final pushes that helped America enter the war. A favorite of the royals, Beaton photographed Queen Elizabeth many times over the course of his career.

Post-World War II, Beaton also became a famed staged designer and costume designer. His costumes for My Fair Lady and Gigi both received Academy Awards (the former in 1964, the latter in 1958). His work was fantastical and lush but still hinged on a British reservedness that resonated with audiences. These dueling aesthetics helped Beaton to create timeless work that still looks as vital today as it did in the 1950s and 1960s.

What kind of art does Cecil Beaton make?

Cecil Beaton was a photographer, costumer, set designer, and writer. While best known for his photography, Beaton enjoyed sustained success in all of those fields -- including winning two Academy awards and writing a best-selling, six-volume memoir based off his diaries from 1922-1974. His celebrity portraits were extremely well known in England -- he was a favorite photographer of the royal family. These photographs often appeared in Vanity Fair and the British edition of Vogue Magazine. Beaton had many career re-inventions, including a war photographer, set designer, and as a costumer.

How did photographer Cecil Beaton get started?

Born into wealth, Cecil Beaton showed an interest in the arts at an early age. Though he originally wanted to be an actor, his natural eye and university contacts led him to pursue commercial photography instead. His first serious portrait, of the Duchess of Malfi, was published by Vogue, who would hire him many times over the ensuing decades. He then worked for Conde Nast and Vanity Fair as a “society” photographer. After losing his job at Vogue over a scandal, Beaton would be reborn as a war photographer during World War II. No matter what the format, style, or subject it’s easy to recognize the talent found in a Beaton photograph even today.

How much are Cecil Beaton’s photos worth?

While a few of Cecil Beaton’s paintings have sold for a hundred thousand dollars or more, many of his photographs sell for a few thousand. The highest price ever paid for a Cecil Beaton piece was for the photograph Wallis Simpson Serving Cocktails, London 20 November 1936 (1936) which sold for an astonishing $160,000 in 1998. Its high estimate was only 7,000.

Where to buy Cecil Beaton photographs for sale?

See works for sale below. Why buy from Heritage? Art buyers feel confident because our experts know the market and put careful valuations on the artwork for sale. We make the bidding process easier to help you expand your art collection.

How to value Cecil Beaton photographs?

The best way to value art is to compare past auction prices for similar works. View past sale prices below. When you’re ready to sell, contact Heritage Auctions to request an auction estimate of the likely selling price at auction. If you need a formal written appraisal for estate planning or insurance, please contact our Appraisal Services Department.


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Cecil Beaton Original Art values sold at auction

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