Portraits and Caricatures

With his keen power of observation, Beaton drew his friends and acquaintances and recorded the fashionable circles in which he moved, while his wit revealed itself in biting caricatures. In his later years, with his health failing, Beaton filled a number of sketchbooks with quick line drawings and caricatures from the television. These are now in the National Portrait Gallery Archive and provide a snapshot of the actors, comedians, politicians and musicians appearing on television in the late 1960s and early 1970s. He suffered a stroke in 1974, and although he taught himself to draw, write and photograph with his left hand, it brought an end to his long career.



Sheila Berry, daughter of the newspaper proprietor 1st Viscount Camrose, was married to the 2nd Earl of Birkenhead and together they were a distinguished literary couple. She was a key figure in the Royal Society of Literature and the Keats-Shelley Association as well as a biographer of 19th century literary and artistic life. Also a courtier, she was lady-in-waiting to Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent.

Both were fashionable women in Parisian society, known to Beaton from the international circuit. He was a regular visitor to Paris, where this was probably drawn.

Marguerite d'Harcourt, known as Daisy, and her husband Hugues, Baron de Cabrol were among the closest friends of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. Mary Chauvin du Treuil was married to the banker Alain de Rothschild.

Maggie Smith, by Cecil Beaton, early 1970s - NPG  - © National Portrait Gallery, London

Maggie Smith
by Cecil Beaton
early 1970s
NPG D17943(124)

Maggie Smith, by Cecil Beaton, early 1970s - NPG  - © National Portrait Gallery, London

Maggie Smith
by Cecil Beaton
early 1970s
NPG D17943(125)

Maggie Smith, grande dame of British theatre, began her stage career in the 1950s and joined Olivier's new National Theatre Company in 1963. Her numerous film roles have reinforced her reputation as both a dramatic actress and comedienne, from leads in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969) and Travels with My Aunt  (1972) to Professor McGonagall in the Harry Potter films.

 

Michael Crawford, by Cecil Beaton, circa 1974 - NPG  - © National Portrait Gallery, London

Michael Crawford
by Cecil Beaton
circa 1974
NPG D17946(151)

Michael Crawford, by Cecil Beaton, circa 1974 - NPG  - © National Portrait Gallery, London

Michael Crawford
by Cecil Beaton
circa 1974
NPG D17946(150)

One of the world's best known 'song 'n' dance' men, Crawford started his career as a boy soprano and child actor before moving into comedy where his definitive role was as Frank Spencer in the TV sitcom Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em (1974-9). His musical successes include leads in the circus musical Barnum (1981) and Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera (1986).

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