August 1, 2021

Cecil Beaton, the portrait painter of the muses of the 20th century

Marylin Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, Marlon Brando, Greta Garbo. All of them, great myths and celebrities of the 20th century, crossed paths at some point in their lives with the objective of Cecil Beaton. The British photographer thus became one of the great portraitists of high society and the visual archive that he left as a legacy covers different eras of cinema as well as the evolution of fashion in this, the seventh art.

Beaton was born in London in 1904 and his devotion to cameras came early, thanks to his nanny lending him her Kodak 3A and his mother and sisters posed for him. After leaving his studies, he tried his luck in different sectors but never gave up photography.


Under the patronage of Osbert Sitwell, Beaton held his first exhibition at the Cooling Gallery de Londres and, after moving to New York, got a contract with Condé Nast Publications.

Throughout his career he photographed dozens of movie stars such as Lillian Gish, Grace Kelly, as well as royal members of the stature of the Queen Isabell II of England and political representatives like the American first lady Jackie Kennedy.


Thanks to his stellar friendships and his gift behind the cameras, Beaton managed to portray the beauty of 20th century Hollywood and capture, in black and white, the soul of some of the most famous people in history.


Hollywood photographer and dressmaker

But the true success of Cecil Beaton and the distinctions for which he would go down in history was his work as a dressmaker in Hollywood. The photographer won the Oscar for best costume for the film Tooth Y My Fair Lady, title for which he was also awarded the statuette for best artistic direction.

The Canal Foundation (Madrid) This week it will host the first retrospective on the British artist in Spain. The exhibition, which has a hundred of his works, will be open to the public until August 19.

One hundred and sixteen portraits of some of the most significant figures of the 20th century make up the first retrospective dedicated to Cecil Beaton in Spain

Victor De Los Reyes / EFE