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Cecil Walter Hardy Beaton (London, January 14, 1904 – Salisbury, January 18, 1980) was a British photographer and dressmaker, activities that he combined with the artistic direction of film and theater productions , rewarded with three Oscars and four Tony Awards.
Beaton was born on January 14, 1904 in Hampstead (London), the son of Ernest Walter Hardy Beaton (1867-1936), a prosperous timber merchant, and his wife Etty Sissons (1872-1962). The family business (Beaton Brothers) had been founded by his grandfather Walter Hardy Beaton (1841-1904). His parents were amateur actors.
Cecil Beaton was educated at Heath Mount School (where he was intimidated by his partner Evelyn Waugh, later a famous novelist) and at St Cyprian’s School in Eastbourne, where his artistic talent was quickly recognized.
Her nanny used a Kodak 3A camera, and it was she who started teaching him the rudiments of photography, which he put into practice with his sisters and his mother who posed for him.
Later he attended the Harrow School, and despite his lack of interest in the academic world, he enrolled at St John’s College in Cambridge, where he studied history, art and architecture. Beaton continued with photography, and through his university contacts he was able to publish his first portrait (that of the Duchess of Malfi) in the Vogue magazine.
Beaton left Cambridge without a degree in 1925, then tried to work in various jobs without success, while continuing almost compulsively with photography.At last, under the patronage of Osbert Sitwell, he managed to make his first exhibition in the Coolling Gallery of London, causing a stir.
Subsequently, he moved to New York and little by little a reputation was built there. At the time of leaving, “I had a contract with Condé Nast Publications to take exclusive photographs for them for several years worth several thousand pounds annually.”
From 1930 to 1945, Beaton was rented at Ashcombe House (Wiltshire), where he received many notable figures. He also bought a single-family house in London, in 1940.
In 1947 he bought Reddish House, his country house about eight kilometers east of the village of Broad Chalke (Salisbury). Greta Garbo was a regular visitor.
Interestingly, the upper floor of the house had been equipped for illegal cockfighting at the beginning of the 20th century, and Beaton used the cages as cabinets to store the costumes of his designs for the movie My Fair Lady. He remained in the house until his death in 1980, after suffering a stroke that left him incapacitated on his right side, frustrating his work. He sought financial support during the last stage of his life organizing successive auctions of his original material with Sotheby. He is buried in the local cemetery.
The great love of his life was the art collector Peter Watson, although they were never lovers. He had relationships with several men, including former Olympic fencer Kin Hoitsma. He also had relationships with women, including the actresses Greta Garbo and Coral Browne, the dancer Adele Astaire, and the British “socialite” Doris Castlerosse. < / p>
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