The Gallery holds the most extensive collection of portraits in the world. Search over 215,000 works, 150,000 of which are illustrated from the 16th Century to the present day.

Advanced Collection search

Search the Collection

Cecil Beaton

(1904-1980), Photographer, designer and writer

Sitter associated with 361 portraits
Artist associated with 1111 portraits
Cecil Beaton was one of the leading British photographers of the twentieth century. Beaton's early studio portraits of debutantes and celebrities often involved elaborate theatrical backdrops, and helped define the image of the 'Bright young thing'. Beaton was also an acclaimed designer for film and the stage, including My Fair Lady (1956), the musical based on George Bernard Shaw's play Pygmalion. He won three Oscars for costume and art direction for the film version of My Fair Lady (1965) and for Gigi (1958). A major retrospective of Beaton's portraits in 1968 was the first exhibition the National Portrait Gallery had devoted to a photographer.

More on Beaton: Cecil Beaton's Bright Young Things

Tell us More

5 Likes voting
is closed

Thanks for Liking

Please Like other favourites!
If they inspire you please support our work.

Make a donation Close

List Thumbnail

Siegfried Sassoon, by Cecil Beaton - NPG P352

Siegfried Sassoon

by Cecil Beaton
vintage bromide print, 1920s
NPG P352

Sir William Turner Walton, by Cecil Beaton - NPG P55

Sir William Turner Walton

by Cecil Beaton
bromide print, 1926

Edith Sitwell, by Cecil Beaton - NPG P868

Edith Sitwell

by Cecil Beaton
vintage bromide print, December 1926
NPG P868

Cecil Beaton, by Cecil Beaton - NPG P219

Cecil Beaton

by Cecil Beaton
bromide print, 1927
NPG P219

Madge Garland, by Cecil Beaton - NPG P456

Madge Garland

by Cecil Beaton
bromide print, 1927
NPG P456

Lady Cynthia Blanche Mosley (née Curzon), by Cecil Beaton - NPG P1353

Lady Cynthia Blanche Mosley (née Curzon)

by Cecil Beaton
gelatin silver print, 1929
NPG P1353

Sylvia Townsend Warner, by Cecil Beaton - NPG P181

Sylvia Townsend Warner

by Cecil Beaton
bromide print, 1930
NPG P181

Sylvia Townsend Warner, by Cecil Beaton - NPG P182

Sylvia Townsend Warner

by Cecil Beaton
bromide print, 1930
NPG P182

Sylvia Townsend Warner, by Cecil Beaton - NPG P183

Sylvia Townsend Warner

by Cecil Beaton
bromide print, 1930
NPG P183

Michael Arlen, by Cecil Beaton - NPG 6231

Michael Arlen

by Cecil Beaton
pencil, 1930s?
NPG 6231

W.H. Auden, by Cecil Beaton - NPG P869(3)

W.H. Auden

by Cecil Beaton
vintage bromide print on white card mount, 1930
NPG P869(3)

Edith Sitwell, by Cecil Beaton - NPG P867

Edith Sitwell

by Cecil Beaton
vintage bromide print, 1930
NPG P867

Elisabeth Bergner, by Cecil Beaton - NPG P1041

Elisabeth Bergner

by Cecil Beaton
bromide print on card mount, 1934
NPG P1041

Flowers, by Cecil Beaton - NPG P261


by Cecil Beaton
bromide print, 1936
NPG P261

Chateau Cande, France, by Cecil Beaton - NPG P262

Chateau Cande, France

by Cecil Beaton
bromide print, 1936
NPG P262

Aldous Huxley, by Cecil Beaton - NPG P869(17)

Aldous Huxley

by Cecil Beaton
vintage bromide print on white card mount, 1936
NPG P869(17)

Tell us more back to top

Can you tell us more about this person? Spotted an error, information that is missing (a sitter’s life dates, occupation or family relationships, or a date of portrait for example) or do you know anything that we don't know? If you have information to share please complete the form below.

If you require information from us, please use our Archive enquiry service. You can buy a print of most illustrated portraits. Select the portrait of interest to you, then look out for a Buy a Print button. Prices start at £6 for unframed prints, £25 for framed prints. If you wish to license an image, please use our Rights and Images service.

Please note that we cannot provide valuations.

We digitise over 8,000 portraits a year and we cannot guarantee being able to digitise images that are not already scheduled.

What can you tell us?close

There are occasions when we are unsure of the identity of a sitter or artist, their life dates, occupation or have not recorded their family relationships. Sometimes we have not recorded the date of a portrait. Do you have specialist knowledge or a particular interest about any aspect of the portrait or sitter or artist that you can share with us? We would welcome any information that adds to and enhances our information and understanding about a particular portrait, sitter or artist.


How do you know this? Please could you let us know your source of information.

* Permission to publish (Privacy information)
Privacy Informationclose

The National Portrait Gallery will NOT use your information to contact you or store for any other purpose than to investigate or display your contribution. By ticking permission to publish you are indicating your agreement for your contribution to be shown on this collection item page. Please note your email address will not be displayed on the page nor will it be used for any marketing material or promotion of any kind.

Please ensure your comments are relevant and appropriate. Your contributions must be polite and with no intention of causing trouble. All contributions are moderated.

Your Emailclose

Contributions are moderated. We'll need your email address so that we can follow up on the information provided and contact you to let you know when your contribution has been published.

Visit From Your Armchair

Self-portrait as My Father from the series Encounter  by Silvia Rosi © Silvia Rosi

Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize

An online exhibition celebrating the very best in contemporary portrait photography.

Visit now

Hold Still

Hold Still

Explore our community photography project, which presents a personal record of the UK during lockdown.

Explore the exhibition

Margaret Thatcher by Spitting Images Productions Ltd painted plastic, 1985

Sculptures in 360°

See sculptures and fascinating objects from our Collection from all angles.

View the 360s

David Hockney: Drawing from Life

Watch highlights from our special exhibition, which had to close early in March 2020 due to lockdown.

See the video