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Cecil Beaton’s Bright Young Things

Cecil Beaton’s Bright Young Things
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Cecil Beaton’s Bright Young Things

By Robin Muir
Photographs by Cecil Beaton

The stylish and extravagant world of the “Bright Young Things” of 1920s and ’30s London, seen through the eye of renowned British photographer Cecil Beaton.

In 1920s and ‘30s Britain, Cecil Beaton used his camera and his larger-than-life personality to mingle with that flamboyant and rebellious group of artists, writers, socialites and partygoers who became known as the “Bright Young Things.” Famously fictionalized by the likes of Evelyn Waugh (in Vile Bodies), Anthony Powell and Henry Green, these men and women cut a dramatic swathe through the epoch and embodied its roaring spirit.

In a series of themed chapters, covering Beaton’s first self-portraits and earliest sitters to his time at Cambridge and as principle society photographer for Vogue and Vanity Fair, over 50 leading figures who sat for Beaton are profiled and the dazzling parties, pageants and balls of the period are brought to life. Among this glittering cast are Beaton’s socialite sisters Baba and Nancy Beaton, Stephen Tennant, Siegfried Sassoon, Evelyn Waugh and Daphne du Maurier. Beaton’s photographs are complemented by a wide range of letters, drawings, book jackets and ephemera, and contextualised by artworks created by those in his circle, including Christopher Wood, Rex Whistler and Henry Lamb.

Hardcover
280 pages
National Portrait Gallery, London, 2020
10 x 1 x 11 inches
ISBN 9781855147720
Exhibition Catalogue, Photography

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