Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Rare Cecil Beaton photos up for auction

Photographs by Sir Cecil Beaton, the revered British photographer and diarist, are among photographs being offered at auction by one of the most famous literary families in England.

Beaton, one of the greatest photographers of the 20th Century, and arguably the inventor of the selfie, was queer before the word queer was a sexual identity. Incredibly prolific, the socially-mobile polymath took thousands of photos of royal personages, literary giants, artists and avant-garde pioneers, Hollywood stars, and rock icons, as well as designing sets and costumes for the theater, illustrating, painting, renovating homes and hotel suites, and churning out volume after volume of diaries about his human encounters in the world.

Now, via one of Britain’s most famous literary families — the Sitwells — some of Beaton’s rarer and least reproduced works will hit the auction market. Beaton (1904-1980), was a great friend and frequent visitor to the Sitwell family seat, Weston Hall at the height of the Bright Young Things era.

Beaton took many photographs of the Sitwell family, including the famous portrait of Dame Edith Sitwell in an ostrich feather hat. Others by Beaton in the sale are portraits of Georgia Sitwell (1905-1980), wife of the writer Sacheverell Sitwell (1897-1988), taken in circa 1927, one of which is cut into an art-deco design. Each lot is estimated to fetch £700-£900.

The photographs are part of the sale of the contents of Weston Hall in Northamptonshire, a seat of the Sitwell family since the early 20th century and their ancestors since the 18th century. Beaton was drawn to this eminent family of writers, eccentrics, pioneers and creatives.

The sale, titled Weston Hall and the Sitwells: A Family Legacy, offers a once in a lifetime’s chance to obtain a piece of literary history, and will take place at Dreweatts on Tuesday, November 16 & 17, 2021.

Other photos in the sale include a folio of seven portrait photographs from the 1920s and ’30s of key members of the Bright Young Things of which the Sitwells were at the centre, with many parties and gatherings taking place at Weston Hall.

To view the full sale of the contents of Weston Hall here. View the catalog here.

Merryn Johns

Merryn Johns is the Editor-in-Chief of Queer Forty. She is an award-winning journalist, as well as a broadcaster and public speaker. Originally from Sydney, Australia where she began her career in journalism in the 1990s, she is based in New York City where she became the editor-in-chief of Curve Magazine and wrote for a variety of publications including Vanity Fair, Vogue, Slate, and more. Follow on Twitter at @Merryn1

Merryn Johns has 140 posts and counting. See all posts by Merryn Johns

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