The stylish and extravagant world of the “Bright Young Things” of 1920s and ’30s London, seen through the eye of renowned British photographer Cecil Beaton
In 1920s and ‘30s Britain, Cecil Beaton used his camera and his larger-than-life personality to mingle with that flamboyant and rebellious group of artists, writers, socialites and partygoers who became known as the “Bright Young Things.” Famously fictionalized by the likes of Evelyn Waugh (in Vile Bodies), Anthony Powell and Henry Green, these men and women cut a dramatic swathe through the epoch and embodied its roaring spirit.
In a series of themed chapters, covering Beaton’s first self-portraits and earliest sitters to his time at Cambridge and as principle society photographer for Vogue and Vanity Fair, over 50 leading figures who sat for Beaton are profiled and the dazzling parties, pageants and balls of the period are brought to life. Among this glittering cast are Beaton’s socialite sisters Baba and Nancy Beaton, Stephen Tennant, Siegfried Sassoon, Evelyn Waugh and Daphne du Maurier. Beaton’s photographs are complemented by a wide range of letters, drawings, book jackets and ephemera, and contextualised by artworks created by those in his circle, including Christopher Wood, Rex Whistler and Henry Lamb.
Cecil Beaton (1904–80) is one of the most celebrated British portrait photographers of the 20th century and is renowned for his images of elegance, glamour and style. Beaton quickly developed a reputation for his striking and fantastic photographs, which culminated in his portraits of Queen Elizabeth in 1939. Also well known as a diarist, Beaton became a society fixture in his own right. His influence on portrait photography was profound and lives on today in the work of many contemporary photographers.