Cecil Beaton

Photography Centre, Rooms 99 – 101

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Cecil Beaton

The V&A holds the archive of royal portraits by renowned fashion photographer Sir Cecil Beaton (1904 – 80), who became court photographer to the British Royal Family in 1937, and continued to photograph them for the next three generations, including taking the official portraits for Queen Elizabeth II's Coronation in 1953.

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Beaton bequeathed his archive of royal portraits to his devoted secretary Eileen Hose. In 1987 she, in turn, bequeathed the archive to the V&A. To celebrate the Queen's diamond jubilee in 2012, the Museum mounted the exhibition 'Queen Elizabeth II by Cecil Beaton', featuring portraits of Her Majesty in her roles as princess, monarch and mother. Our collection also holds some of his costume and stage designs for productions such as My Fair Lady (1956) and Gigi (1958), as well as the Cecil Beaton Collection of fashion, which was exhibited at the Museum in 1971 as 'Fashion: An Anthology by Cecil Beaton'.

Exploring Cecil Beaton

Photo of Queen Elizabeth II, photograph by Cecil Beaton, 1953, England. Museum no. PH.311-1987. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Queen Elizabeth II, photograph by Cecil Beaton, 1953, England. Museum no. PH.311-1987. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of Princess Alexandra and the Honourable Angus Oglivy, photograph by Cecil Beaton, 1963, England. Museum no. PH.263-1987.  © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Princess Alexandra and the Honourable Angus Oglivy, photograph by Cecil Beaton, 1963, England. Museum no. PH.263-1987. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of Princess Marie Louise, photograph by Cecil Beaton, 1953, England. Museum no. PH.8540-1987. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Princess Marie Louise, photograph by Cecil Beaton, 1953, England. Museum no. PH.8540-1987. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of Queen Elizabeth, photograph by Cecil Beaton, 1939, England. Museum no. PH.971-1987. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Queen Elizabeth, photograph by Cecil Beaton, 1939, England. Museum no. PH.971-1987. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of Schiaparelli evening dresses, photograph by Cecil Beaton for French Vogue, published 1936, France. Museum no. 193-1977. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Schiaparelli evening dresses, photograph by Cecil Beaton for French Vogue, published 1936, France. Museum no. 193-1977. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of The Duke and Duchess of Windsor, photograph by Cecil Beaton, 1939, France. Museum no. PH.2865-1987. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
The Duke and Duchess of Windsor, photograph by Cecil Beaton, 1939, France. Museum no. PH.2865-1987. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of Queen Elizabeth II, photograph by Cecil Beaton, 1968, England. Museum no. PH.1922-1987. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Queen Elizabeth II, photograph by Cecil Beaton, 1968, England. Museum no. PH.1922-1987. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of Katharine Worsley, Duchess of Kent on her wedding day, photograph by Cecil Beaton, 1961, England. Museum no. PH.3899-1987. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Katharine Worsley, Duchess of Kent on her wedding day, photograph by Cecil Beaton, 1961, England. Museum no. PH.3899-1987. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of H.R.H. Princess Margaret, photograph by Cecil Beaton, 1951, England. Museum no. CBX 1001-12. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
H.R.H. Princess Margaret, photograph by Cecil Beaton, 1951, England. Museum no. CBX 1001-12. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Learn more about Cecil Beaton

Background image: Queen Elizabeth II, photograph by Cecil Beaton, 1953, England. Museum no. PH.311-1987. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London