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Early Drawings

Ninnie Collard
by Cecil Beaton
after 1913
NPG D3631

Alice Collard was engaged as nanny to Cecil and his three younger siblings in 1913. A keen amateur photographer, she encouraged his early efforts with a camera and went on to assist at his professional portrait sessions.

'Eggie' Hine was Beaton's art master at Harrow. An accomplished artist who exhibited landscapes at the Royal Academy and other London galleries, he revolutionised the teaching of art at Harrow and built its first art school. It was with his tutelage and support that Beaton's talent for drawing and painting blossomed and he began winning prizes and selling work.

Cathleen Nesbitt was one of Beaton's childhood heroines who helped to define his ideal of beauty. With one of the longest careers in show business history, she made her London stage debut in Pinero's The Cabinet Maker  (1910) and gave her last performance at the age of 92, playing Mrs Higgins in My Fair Lady on Broadway (1981). This would seem to show her in the 1920s, suggesting it is not the juvenile drawing it appears.

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