By Josephine Ross
Thames & Hudson, $39.95, 240 pages
Cecil Beaton was a world renowned photographer, illustrator and writer who enjoyed a collaborative relationship with Vogue magazine for almost 50 years. Beaton in Vogue is an elegant reminder of that time, with Beaton’s columns accompanied both by his photographs and his illustrations, all on beautiful heavyweight paper.
The book is divided into the chapters of Beaton’s career. Each chapter is prefaced with a series of his Vogue essays on the subject. For the reader who knows only of his photography this is a welcome addition as his charm and erudition are as captivating as his photos. The layout is especially nice as it allows focus on the word before being immersed in the image.
While much of his career was spent photographing the wealthy, celebrities and royalty, Beaton also served in World War II as official photographer for the Ministry of Information in England. In contrast to his stylish society portraits “Beaton At War” captures a range of human emotion from the stoic cheer of the British forces to the despair of the victims of the war in Asia. In “Travel” we see the unadorned beauty of Turkey and India and, in “A Windsor Album” there is a winsome Princess Elizabeth smiling shyly on her 16th birthday.
By its physicality, this is a book meant to adorn a coffee table but it is so much more than a pretty face. Beaton in Vogue is a beautifully executed look at the life and work of a multi-talented artist. It is a book to be read and looked at again and again.