by Cecil Beaton
bromide print, 22 February 1956
10 3/4 in. x 10 5/8 in. (272 mm x 269 mm)
Accepted in lieu of tax by H.M. Government and allocated to the Gallery, 1991
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Artistback to top
- Cecil Beaton (1904-1980), Photographer, designer and writer. Artist associated with 1087 portraits, Sitter associated with 353 portraits.
This portraitback to top
Although associated with Vogue though most of his career, Beaton's Monroe portfolio appeared in Harper's Bazaar, for whom he worked in the mid 1950s. It was whilst in New York for the rehearsals and premiere of My Fair Lady that Beaton photographed Monroe. With a possibility that he would be the designer of Monroe's dresses for The Prince and The Showgirl, Beaton arranged a photography sitting in his suite in the Ambassador Hotel on 22 February 1956. Despite being over an hour late 'She was instantly forgiven for she has a completely disarming, childlike freshness and ingenuity and her mischief is irresistible'. Ed Pfizenmaier, Beaton's assistant, noted that Monroe did her own make-up and 'came just by herself, with these two little dresses... it was as simple as that.' Beaton recalled 'She romps, she squeals with delight, she leaps on the sofa. She puts a flower stem in her mouth... It is an artless, impromptu, high-spirited, infectiously gay performance. It will probably end in tears.' The session produced one of Monroe's favourite portraits (a variant of this) which hung in her New York apartment that she shared with her third husband Arthur Miller.
Placesback to top
- Place made and portrayed: United States (Ambassador Hotel, New York, United States)
Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top
- Marilyn Monroe - A British Love Affair (29 September 2012 - 24 March 2013)
Events of 1956back to top
Current affairsThe first supermarket opens in Britain. Inspired by the new innovation in America, Jack Cohen opened his first Tesco supermarket in Essex. The First Clean Air Act is passed in response to the 'Pea Soup' smog over London.
Art and sciencePop Art is seen for the first time in the This is Tomorrow exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery. The exhibition included Richard Hamilton's iconic collage: What is it that makes today's homes so different, so appealing?John Osborne's play Look Back in Anger opens at the Royal Court Theatre, introducing the phrase 'Angry young man' to describe the new movement of gritty, post-war realism in literature.
InternationalThe Suiz Crisis rocked Eden's premiership and marked the decline of British world power and influence in favour of America. In 1956 President Nasser of Egypt nationalised the Suez canal. Although Britain and France, who had owned the canal since the 19th century, invaded Egypt, they were soon persuaded to withdraw by US President Eisenhower who disapproved of the occupation.
- Portrait of the Day: William John Christopher Vassall
17 August, 12:30