LONDONBest known for his fashion photographs and society portraits, working for Vanity Fair and Vogue, photographing Hollywood celebrities, the Royal Family and the Bright Young Things of the 1920s and 1930s, Cecil Beaton also has a life long association with Wilton House in Wiltshire, the home of the Earls of Pembroke.

cecil-beaton-curator-jasper-conranCurator of the exhibition, designer Jasper Conran.

Running until 14 September, Cecil Beaton at Wilton is an exhibition of photographs from The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive at Sotheby’s, curated by the designer Jasper Conran

Here he gives the background to the exhibition and Beaton’s relationship with Wilton.

How did you approach curating this exhibition? 
Beaton had a keen eye for individuality and informal grandeur. He captured the essence of the Bright Young Things, the costume balls and the country house parties and I wanted to draw on this. 

How have you transformed the rooms at Wilton? 
I have always admired Beaton’s set designs and the unique sense of theatre they created. I commissioned the artist Oisin Byrne to create large hand drawn illustrations of furniture and frames, which pay homage both to Beaton’s drawings and stage work and reference pieces from within Wilton House, for the two drawing rooms.

Two further rooms are inspired by 18th century print rooms. The vintage Cecil Beaton photograph print room has been painted a vibrant geranium red, which sets off the black and white prints in their frames.

How would you sum up Cecil Beaton’s work?
His work captures every angle - informal snap shots, theatre, film, illustrations, portraiture. All forms of photography. 

Is there a specific work in the exhibition that has a particular appeal to you? 
I like the Edith Olivier, as Queen Elizabeth I for a pageant at Wilton, 1932 – it’s the epitome of fancy dress!

Cecil Beaton on the Palladian Bridge at Wilton House, September 1968.
Lady Plunket (Dorothé) and Mr Maurice, 1937.
Edith Olivier as Queen Elizabeth I, Wilton House, 19 July 1932.
Group at Wilsford Manor, 1927. Hon. Stephen Tennant, William Walton, Mrs Sacheverell Sitwell (Georgia), Zita Jungman, Rex Whistler and Cecil Beaton.
Family group under the Ilex, Cecil Beaton with his sisters Nancy and Baba, Ashcombe, circa 1935.
The Countess of Pembroke (Beatrice) with Evacuees from London, billeted at Wilton House, 1939. Published in The Sketch and praised by the Queen.
Rex Whistler “reverts to his spiritual home in a Watteau glade,” 1927.

Cecil Beaton at Wilton

Until 14 September

Wilton House
+44 (0)1722 746714

Cecil Beaton Studio Archive
Sotheby’s London