Cecil Beaton: Theatre of War

Celebrated for his fashion portraits of iconic socialites, models, and celebrities, a lesser-known body of Cecil Beaton’s work- an intimate and poignant series of photographs taken during World War II- is now on view at London’s Imperial War Museum through 1 January 2013 in an exhibit entitled Cecil Beaton: Theatre of War. Commissioned by the Ministry of Information in July 1940, Beaton went on to become Britain’s most prolific and longest-serving WWII photographer, traveling throughout Britain, the Middle East, India, China and Burma to cover the many players involved in this global event.  In addition to the 250 images on view, the exhibit also features drawings, books, and coverage of his work in theatre and film to show how the War became a turning point in his career.  Worth a gander for history buffs and aesthetes alike.

British nurse assisting with a leg, 1942, ©Crown Copyright: IWM (CBM 1005)

British sailor repairing a signal flag, 1942, ©Crown Copyright: IWM (CBM 1049)

Italian gas masks, 1942, ©Crown Copyright: IWM  (CBM 2488)

St. John’s Ambulance Nurse in India, 1944, © Crown Copyright: IWM, Cat. no. IB 1946

British Tank Driver in North Africa, 1942, ©Crown Copyright: IWM (CBM 1781)

Desert cool with cans of water, ©Crown Copyright: IWM (CBM 1850)

ATS Artillery observer at the Royal Artillery Experimental Unit, Essex, 1942, ©Crown Copyright: IWM (HU 112286)

Pilots of a Wellington bomber, 1941, ©Crown Copyright IWM (D 4737)

Gunner Anthony Liddell in the bath, India, 1944, ©Crown Copyright: IWM (IB 63)

Cecil Beaton self-portrait, Southeastern China during WWII, © Crown Copyright: IWM (IB 4287C)

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