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Cecil Beaton’s Bright Young Things

Cecil Beaton, The Bright Young Things at Wilsford, 1927. The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive © The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive
Thursday 20 May 2021 - Sunday 4 July 2021

Cecil Beaton’s glittering portraits from a golden age are brought together at the Millennium Gallery this spring in a major new exhibition direct from the National Portrait Gallery, London.

Cecil Beaton’s Bright Young Things explores a deliriously eccentric, glamorous and joyful era of British cultural life during the 1920s and 30s through the lens of the renowned British photographer.

The exhibition presents a dazzling leading cast of society figures, artists, writers and partygoers, each seen through the prism of Beaton’s portraits. Featuring 150 works, many of which are seldom exhibited, the images on display present a playful spectacle of costumed theatricality and unbridled creativity.

Cecil Beaton’s Bright Young Things charts the photographer’s transformation from suburban schoolboy to society figure and the unrivalled star of Vogue. The images he created during these early years saw Beaton refine his remarkable photographic style, with celebrated sitters including Hollywood stars Tallulah Bankhead and Anna May Wong, writers Daphne du Maurier and Evelyn Waugh, set and costume designer Oliver Messel, composer William Walton, poets Siegfried Sassoon and Edith Sitwell, socialites Edwina Mountbatten and Diana Guinness (née Mitford), artist and friend Stephen Tennant, among many others.

This exhibition in Sheffield, which comes after the pandemic sadly brought the original run in London to a close after just one week, is a rare opportunity to see these extraordinary portraits together on such a scale.

Exhibition organised by National Portrait Gallery, London.

Book your free visit to the Millennium Gallery now

Find our more about Cecil Beaton and the works on display in our Sheffield Museums Live talk with the exhibition curator, Robin Muir:

Cecil Beaton, The Silver Soap Suds, 1930. The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive © The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive 
Paul Tanqueray, Cecil Beaton, 1937. National Portrait Gallery, London. © Estate of Paul Tanqueray 
Cecil Beaton, Paula Gellibrand, Marquesa de Casa Maury,1928. The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive © The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive