Queen Elizabeth II by Cecil Beaton: A diamond jubilee celebration
To celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, London’s Victoria & Albert (V&A) will be holding an exhibition of portraits of Her Majesty by photographer Cecil Beaton from 8th February until 22nd April, 2012 at its Porter Gallery. The exhibition coincides with the 60th anniversary of her accession to the throne, marking her Diamond Jubilee.
Presenting highlights of the V&A’s collection of Beaton’s royal photography, the exhibition will depict the Queen in her roles as a princess, a monarch and a mother; including a number of never seen before photographs.
The exhibition will feature nearly 100 portraits, from wartime photographs of Princess Elizabeth with her family, to tender images of Her Majesty with her own young children, and official portraits that convey the magnitude of her role as the British monarch. It will show elegant and highly-staged photographs alongside informal moments of the Royal Family at home, interspersed with film and radio footage from the time.
Distinguished photographer, designer and avid diarist, Beaton’s royal portraits were among the most widely published photographs of the 20th century. The exhibition will explore Beaton’s long relationship with Queen Elizabeth II, who was a teenage princess when she first sat for Beaton in 1942. Over the next three decades, Beaton photographed the Queen on many significant occasions including her coronation day.
The final section will be dedicated to Beaton himself. The exhibition will also feature excerpts from Beaton’s diaries and letters, which will reveal an insight into the working practice of a royal sitting, from the intense planning beforehand to conversations with the Queen and the pressures of achieving the perfect portrait.
A selection of Beaton’s original contact prints will be on display for the first time with volumes of press cuttings. The exhibition will also demonstrate how Beaton controlled the use of his photographs, cropping instructions and notes on the sitting scribed on the reverse of his extensively published image of the Queen and the then new born Prince Andrew.
The exhibition will be split into five sections documenting important sittings and charting the shift in Beaton’s photographic style, from his early Rococo-inspired portraits to a starker approach in the 1960s. One section will showcase portraits of Beaton himself by his contemporaries including Curtis Moffat, Irving Penn and David Bailey.
The V&A has the oldest museum photography collection in the world and holds the UK’s national collection of photography. The Cecil Beaton collection of royal portraits was donated to the V&A in 1987. It includes 18,000 original prints, transparencies and negatives and 45 volumes of press cuttings.
Tickets cost £6.00. For advance bookings visit http://www.vam.ac.uk/ (booking fee applies) or call 020 7907 7073.