Imperial War Museum, London
6 September 2012 – 1 January 2013
Lambeth Road, London SE1
+44 20 7416 5320


This major exhibition explores the impact of the Second World War on the life and work of Cecil Beaton. Beaton’s wartime photographs, many of which are seen for the first time in this exhibition, are masterpieces of composition and staging. Commissioned by the Ministry of Information, Beaton took some 7,000 photographs between 1940 and the end of the Second World War. These little known images show Beaton adopting new methods to create a body of work that he later considered to be his most important. From powerful, humanised portraits to abstract ruins, Beaton captured the war in a manner unlike any other photographer.
As well as photographs, the exhibition will present a selection of fascinating objects, memorabilia and film works, showing how war formed a turning point in Beaton's life and career.

Cecil Beaton is widely remembered as the leading British portrait and fashion photographer of his day, the fact that Beaton was one of Britain’s hardest working war photographers during the Second World War is less well known. He travelled extensively throughout Britain, the Middle East, India, Burma and China, photographing leaders and ordinary people, military and civilian life, industry and agriculture, artists and architecture. His photographs from the Far East, depicting deeply traditional communities on the brink of lasting change, are ranked among the best of his career.