Cecil Beaton: The Royal Portraits (Victoria and Albert Museum)



ISBN: 9780500480922 Category:

Claudia Acott Williams


A contemporary look at Cecil Beaton’s portraits of the Royal Family and how they helped create the public face of the House of Windsor.

Cecil Beaton: The Royal Portraits looks back in time to tell a very modern tale: the creation of a public image. Offering a fresh appraisal of Beaton’s portraits of the British royal family, the book explores not only the finished images but also the sittings in which they were created, revealing Beaton’s central role in shaping the public face of the House of Windsor and the ways in which he collaborated with his subjects.

Organised chronologically, from the 1930s to the 1970s, each of the book’s four chapters comprises an introductory essay, plates with extended captions, and one or two in-depth analyses of a particular sitting. Throughout, a variety of contextual material – contact sheets, test shots, out-takes, sketches, letters, journals, tear-sheets – helps build a detailed picture of Beaton’s working methods, the relationships he developed with his sitters, and how the eventual portraits were received.

Drawing on the Victoria and Albert Museum’s unparalleled collection of Beaton’s photographs, Cecil Beaton: The Royal Portraits will appeal not only to those interested in the photographer and his work, but also to anyone for whom the distinction between the private world and the public face of the royal family remains a source of fascination.

Additional information

Weight 1782 g
Dimensions 25.4 x 30.4 cm
Publisher name Thames and Hudson Ltd
Publication date 12 October 2023
Number of pages 256
Format Hardback
Contributors Foreword by Hugo Vickers
Dimensions 25.4 x 30.4 cm
Weight 1782 g


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Claudia Acott Williams is a collections curator at Historic Royal Palaces, specializing in royal, court and dress history from the 18th century to the present day. Currently the Curator of Kensington Palace, she is responsible for the presentation of the palace interiors and the displayed and stored collections. Exhibitions she has curated or co-curated include Victoria: A Royal Childhood, Victoria Revealed, Diana: Her Fashion Story and Fashion Rules: Restyled. She is also the author of The Crown in Focus: Two Centuries of Royal Photography, published by Merrell in 2020.