LONDON – Photography is long overdue the excitement it deserves. A new exhibition of photographs from The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive, which is owned by Sotheby’s, is bound to provoke that excitement. Curated by Jasper Conran, it captures the spirit of country house parties and costume balls, showcasing 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.

JeanLoup Sieff, Derrière Anglais, Paris, 1969. Estimate £3,000–5,000.

The excitement continues with a sale dedicated to the art of photography is taking place at Sotheby’s London on 7 May. Well-known names vie with lesser ones, and photography legends such as Ansel Adams, Mapplethorpe, Brassaï, Herb Ritts, Cartier-Bresson, Diane Arbus and Avedon all have works in a diverse selection which even includes a few prints from NASA! I found myself completely captivated by the black-and-white images – so painterly and evocative in some instances. JeanLoup Sieff’s Derrière Anglais and Irving Penn’s Nude 59 are landscapes in themselves, and a mere snipp at £3,000 and £7000 low estimates respectively. Elliott Erwitt’s witty image of three sets of legs (an owner with a tall dog and a tiny hat-toting Chihuahua) is likely to charm any viewer, and many compelling moments are seized through the lens of these meticulous observers. The thing about photography is that it can immortalize a moment just as much as it can compose an ode to a landscape or a line. These sale and exhibition do both. Don’t miss it!

Irving Penn, Nude 59, 1949-1950. Estimate £7,000–9,000.

Cecil Beaton at Wilton
Wilton House, Salisbury
18–21 April; 3 May–14 September

Photographs
London, 7 May

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