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Graphic Work

From 1927 Beaton became a leading contributor to Vogue of illustrations and caricatures in addition to photographs and articles. Several of his books, including The Book of Beauty and the first volume of his Diaries, were also illustrated with numerous line drawings in his characteristic, idiosyncratic style. Stylistically flexible, he was constantly refining his work and in 1953, at the age of 50, he enrolled at the Slade School of Art in an effort to improve his draughtsmanship and painting.


A popular French actress and dancer famed for her feathered and jewelled outfits and her high-profile liaisons. She also worked as a spy for the French government during World War I.

This drawing depicts her in her role as the Charm of Paris in The New Aladdin (1906), showing "how the fair Parisienne walks, sings and dances". A line-drawing of it was reproduced in The Book of Beauty (1930) where Beaton sang her praises: "a marvellous creature, of brilliantine and brilliance, and Christmas-tree tinsel... it was impossible to look at anyone else when she was on the stage".

Gellibrand was a Modigliani-style society beauty married at this time to the first of her three husbands, the Spanish-Cuban racing driver and founder of the Curzon Cinema, the 1st Marquess de Casa Maury. A childhood idol of Beaton's, she became one of his favourite models and a life-long friend. He recorded her appearance in words and images in The Glass of Fashion (1954). Enid Bagnold's novel, Serena Blandish (1924) was based upon her life.

This drawing was the title-page to Beaton's first book, The Book of Beauty (1930), an illustrated anthology of the well-known beauties of the day. The glass dome was a recurring feature in his work.

'New York Impressions'
by Cecil Beaton
published 1937
NPG D3624

Beaton loved New York where he was accepted into the artistic avant-garde and was much in demand as a photographer. This drawing illustrated Cecil Beaton's Scrapbook (1937), a collection of essays, photographs and drawings recording recent travels, people and experiences. The following year he recorded further impressions in Cecil Beaton's New York.

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