Cecil Beaton on… Mick Jagger

By Sotheby's
Cecil Beaton was one of the most celebrated photographers of the 20th century and his iconic images captured everyone from Hollywood greats such as Elizabeth Taylor and Grace Kelly, to art world legends including Pablo Picasso and Francis Bacon. In a new series adapted from Hugo Vickers’ book Cecil Beaton Portraits & Profiles, we take a look at images from the Cecil Beaton Studio Archive, which is located at Sotheby’s in London, and uncover the stories behind the famous images.

Cecil Beaton was excited by the new generation of young stars like the Rolling Stones and was fascinated by Mick Jagger. After initially being disappointed by his lack of conversation on first meeting, Beaton’s habit of being in the right place at the right time meant he ran into the band at the Mamounia Hotel in Marrakech in March 1967, and was able to get to spend more time with Jagger.

After being surprised to find the Stones staying in the same hotel as him, Beaton was asked to join them for the night, remembering: “I was intent not to give the impression that I was only interested in Mick, but it happened that we sat next to one another, as he drank a vodka Collins, and smoked with pointed fingers held high. His skin is chicken breast white, and of a fine quality. He has an enormous inborn elegance.”


On this occasion, he was impressed by Jagger’s accounts of travelling and absorbing music from all over the world and even more captivated by his looks: “I was fascinated with the thin concave lines of his body, legs, arms. Mouth almost too large, but he is beautiful and ugly, feminine and masculine, a ‘sport’, a rare phenomenon. “

In 1967, the Stones were at the height of their fame having had multiple number one singles including (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction and Paint It Black. They had also attracted attention over their rumoured drug use and Beaton notes that Jagger was planning to sue the News of the World over a story.

Beaton found Jagger to be intelligent, analytical and observant and was enchanted by the band’s louche lifestyle, staying up all night and sampling hallucinogenic drugs.


The next day he photographed Jagger in the grounds of the hotel, after very few hours’ sleep. Beaton wrote: “I could not believe this was the same person walking towards us, and yet I knew it was an aspect of him. The sun, very strong, was reflected from the white ground, and made his face a white podgy, shapeless mess, eyes very small, nose very pink and spreading, hair sandy dark. He wore Chanel Bois de Rose. His figure, his hands and arms were incredibly feminine. He looked like a subconscious suburban young lady.”

In the midday sun, Beaton relished the shoot describing Jagger as authentic and appealing: “He is sexy, yet completely sexless. He could nearly be a eunuch. As a model he is a natural.”

The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive, consisting of over 100,000 negatives and 9,000 vintage prints, is located at Sotheby’s in London and managed by Art Agency Partners. Click here for more information on licensing images and buying prints. Discover more about the world of Cecil Beaton

Cecil Beaton Portraits & Profiles is published by Frances Lincoln Limited and available to Buy now

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