Highlights: First-Ever Cecil Beaton Exhibition in Dubai

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Launch Slideshow

Sotheby’s Dubai is to host the first exhibition of Cecil Beaton photographs ever to take place in the Middle East. The exhibition, which is open from 8 to 27 May, showcases the very best of Beaton's portraits from Sotheby’s own Cecil Beaton Studio Archive. Undoubtedly the most significant British-born portrait photographer of the 20th century, he captured the best and most magical images of stars of the stage and screen, royalty, artists, and society’s most glamourous and influential characters. Click ahead to see Cecil Beaton's authorised biographer Hugo Vickers’s picks from the exhibition and to read quotes from Beaton himself about his famous subjects.

Cecil Beaton Portraits
8–27 May | Sotheby's Dubai

Highlights: First-Ever Cecil Beaton Exhibition in Dubai

  • Audrey Hepburn (1929–93)
    “Audrey Hepburn has enormous heron’s eyes and dark eyebrows slanted towards the Far East. Her facial features show character rather than prettiness.”



     



    Cecil Beaton Portraits
    8–27 May

  • Gary Cooper (1901-61)
    “He has never become a ham and the smile he gives to the camera has the same ingenious and disarming quality.”



     



    Cecil Beaton Portraits
    8–27 May

  • Grace Kelly (Princess Grace of Monaco) (1929–82)
    “She is charming and charming-looking, distinguished and well-mannered, with delicate hands and wrists  … [She] has an ideal mouth, with a ready display of teeth. She can show a handsome row of pearls without doing much in the way of a smile … Her mouth, the tip of her nose, her nostrils – all are extremely sensitive.”



     



    Cecil Beaton Portraits
    8–27 May

  • The Rolling Stones – Brian Jones (1942–69), Keith Richards (b. 1943) & Sir Mick Jagger (b. 1943)
    “[Mick] has much appreciation and his small albino fringed eyes notice everything … I was fascinated with the thin concave lines of his body, legs and arms, mouth almost too large, but he is beautiful and ugly, feminine and masculine, a ‘sport’, a rare phenomenon … Lips of a fantastic roundness, body white and almost hairless. He is sexy, yet completely sexless.”



     



    Cecil Beaton Portraits
    8–27 May

  • Marilyn Monroe (1926–62)
    “She might be the latter-day incarnation of a Greuze portrait, the quintessence of partridge-plump prettiness with full, high breasts, eighteenth-century rump and a putty-modelled face – eyes felicitously wide apart, chin appealingly small, nose created without cartilage expressly for wrinkling up with delight, or for photography (though in profile the urchin is apt to gain the ascendancy).”



     



    Cecil Beaton Portraits
    8–27 May

  • Sir Winston Churchill (1874–1965)
    At the centre of an immensely long table sat the Prime Minister, immaculately distinguishedly porcine, with pink bladder wax complexion and a vast cigar freshly affixed to his chin. Fat, white tapering hands deftly turning through the papers in a vast red leather box at his side.”



     



    Cecil Beaton Portraits
    8–27 May

  • Twiggy (b. 1946)
    “A waif with the goo-goo eyes of the twenties she is no mere throw-back but hers is a refreshing naturalness – her gaiety has infinite pathos.”



     



    Cecil Beaton Portraits
    8–27 May

  • Earl Mountbatten of Burma (1900–79)
    “Lord Louis and I lay on the double bed while I photographed the result in the ceiling, all of which sounds high spirited … [He] was such a breezy hero, so full of ideas, vitality, health and success … Lord Louis struck me as being very impressive as a dynamo.”



     



    Cecil Beaton Portraits
    8–27 May

  • Gwili André (1908–59)
    A Danish actress, in the mould of Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich, originally spotted by David O. Selznick.  Never a great star, she was relegated to playing minor roles. She died in an unexplained fire in her house in Venice.



     



    Cecil Beaton Portraits
    8–27 May

  • Rudolph Nureyev (1938–93)
    “The face and dynamic power of this unexpected figure was shocking and compelling … the torso was broad-shouldered, and rather narrow at the waist; the arms were strong and long, and swayed with ineffable grace and strength.”



     



    Cecil Beaton Portraits
    8–27 May

  • Marlene Dietrich (1901–92)
    “Marlene Dietrich off the screen is not the fluffy-haired phantom houri of the films, who creeps down corridors, wide-eyed, mouth gaping … She now feels sufficiently beautiful to convince other people, with her panoply of affected surprise and wonder, of moistened lips, tentative shoulder shrugs, and dewy eyes.”



     



    Cecil Beaton Portraits
    8–27 May

  • Francis Bacon (1909–82)
    “This brilliant and devastating painter knows how to pick the scab off the wound of contemporary anxiety – but where is the sulphur powder?”



     



    Cecil Beaton Portraits
    8–27 May

  • The Princess of Berar (1913–2006)
    Cecil Beaton was impressed by the Princess’s “sensational looks”, the “climate of restfulness and serenity” she created about her, as well as by her love for philosophy and literature, her proficiency in many languages and the "Ottoman perfection of her taste". Photographing her again in London, he noted “The Princess, in European clothes was very shy & giggly but very charming & interesting when given time & the chance.”



     



    Cecil Beaton Portraits
    8–27 May

  • Lucian Freud (1922–2011)
    “He is a true artist and a true Bohemian in the way he lives. London ‘the great, grey Babylon”, he loves as dearly as Baudelaire loved Paris, and you are more apt than not to see him – black curly hair, intense and restless eyes, bright woollen scarf or checked trousers of a decidedly zazou cut – haunting the little restaurants or jazz clubs of Soho.”



     



    Cecil Beaton Portraits
    8–27 May

  • Leslie Caron (b. 1931)
    "Typical of the new Hollywood Leading Lady, she despised flamboyant behaviour or 'glamorous' offscreen appearances and reserved her temperament for her performance."



     



    Cecil Beaton Portraits
    8–27 May

  • Hon Stephen Tennant (1906–87)
    “Stephen Tennant, a golden-haired young man who resembled the youthful Shelley. I had first met this remarkably poetic-looking apparition while he rode the papiermâché horses on the roundabouts at the Olympia circus. He was surrounded, as usual, by an adoring group of Guinness girls. He wore a black leather coat with a large Elizabethan collar of chinchilla … He created an unforgettable sight.”



     



    Cecil Beaton Portraits
    8–27 May

  • Lady Diana Cooper (1892–1986)
    “Having been born a blonde, Lady Diana accentuates her pastel beauty by wearing the pale colours with which her mother taught her to compliment her natural opalescence, and the result is a luminosity that creates the effect of all the lights being turned on when she enters the room. Yet Lady Diana thinks of herself as a brunette and possesses many of the gipsy’s bohemian traits.”



     



    Cecil Beaton Portraits
    8–27 May

  • Fred Astaire (1899–1987) & Adèle Astaire (1896–1981)
    “They look so marvellous. Especially him. His head looks perfect … She is so American & perfect, so slim & graceful. I adore her ugly face and the pearls tight around her neck.”



     



    Cecil Beaton Portraits
    8–27 May

  • Paula Gellibrand, Marquise de Casa Maury (1898–1986)
    “Her appearance is most striking, she is tall her face is exotic, ‘showy’, and yet delicate, and to see anyone with so expressionless a mask is always a joy … She stands like a medieval Madonna.”



     



    Cecil Beaton Portraits
    8–27 May

  • Eileen Dunne (b. 1936/7)
    No one has ever successfully traced the child in this iconic photograph, hit in the head by the splinter of a German bomb. Arguably Cecil Beaton’s most important photograph, it was published on the front cover of Life magazine on 28 September 1940, and became a poster for the William Allen White Committee in America.



     



    Cecil Beaton Portraits
    8–27 May

  • cecil-beaton-highlights-21.jpg
    Cecil Beaton: Portraits and Profiles, edited by Hugo Vickers, combines Beaton’s photographic and pen portraits. Buy the book here



     



    © The Literary Executors of the late Sir Cecil Beaton
    © The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive at Sotheby’s  

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