LONDON – Best 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.
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!