Exhibition

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Temporary closure of the Gallery from 18 March

In line with UK government guidance, the National Portrait Gallery, London will temporarily close from Wednesday 18 March 2020 until further notice, in order to help contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus, and ensure the safety and wellbeing of our visitors and staff. For further details please click here

This major new exhibition explores the extravagant world of the glamorous and stylish ‘Bright Young Things’ of the twenties and thirties, seen through the eye of renowned British photographer Cecil Beaton.  It will bring to life a deliriously eccentric, glamorous and creative era of British cultural life, combining High Society and the avant-garde, artists and writers, socialites and partygoers.

Featuring the leading cast of the ‘Bright Young Things’, many of whom Beaton would call friends – Anna May Wong, Oliver Messel and Stephen Tennant among others, this show charts Beaton’s transformation from middle-class suburban schoolboy to glittering society figure and the unrivalled star of Vogue. In addition to Beaton’s own portraits, the exhibition also features paintings by friends and artists including Rex Whistler, Henry Lamb, and Augustus John.

 

Spring Season 2020 sponsored by

Herbert Smith Freehills

 

Exhibition supported by

Noel Coward Foundation

Peter Cadbury Charitable Trust


 

Additional support from

Beaton studios

Sotheby's


Media Partner

Telegraph Logo

 

12 March – 7 June 2020

Open daily 10.00 – 18.00/ Friday until 21.00

Porter Plus

National Portrait Gallery, St Martin’s Place, London, WC2H 0HE

Tickets

£18 - 20/ £17 - 19 (concessions)

BOOK NOW
(Transaction fee applies)
Exhibitions are free for Members and Patrons

 

 

Ignore

Ignore

Alternatively, please book your tickets using the authorised methods below or become a Member to enjoy free and unlimited entry to all exhibitions.

By phone 020 7321 6600
Daily 10.00-17.30 (transaction fee applies)

In person at the Gallery
Daily 10.00-17.00, Fridays until 20.00

£17 – 20
£5 tickets for under 25s on Fridays
£5 tickets for concessions and over 60s during Monday-Wednesday mornings (10.00 – 11.00)

Concessions include: Those in receipt of pension credit, universal credit or income support, students, children 12–18 years, registered unemployed, disabled people (with free entry for one carer). Proof of age or status required.

Become a Member today to enjoy immediate and unlimited entry to Cecil Beaton’s Bright Young Things and David Hockney: Drawing from Life with no need to book. In addition Members receive an array of fantastic benefits including special exhibition previews, priority booking and a 10% discount in the Gallery Shops, Portrait Restaurant and Portrait Café.

Membership starts from just £55 by Direct Debit.
BECOME A MEMBER

Patrons enjoy all of the benefits of Membership as well as an exclusive events programme including opening night Private Views and curator-led tours.

BECOME A PATRON

The Gallery will be closed between 29 June 2020 to Spring 2023. As a member you’ll enjoy three years of benefits for the price of one, and experience our Collection in new and exciting ways.

Free admission
Gallery Members, Supporters and children under 12 years in family groups.
National Art Pass holders 50% discount

Family Tickets
Book an Adult or Pension Credit ticket and receive 50% off tickets for up to four children (12 – 18).

Schools
Tickets are £5 per student/pupil for groups 10+ visiting from 10.00-14.00, booking and paying at least a month in advance. Find out more.

Groups
Special tours are available for groups, including a lecture and opportunity to explore the exhibition. For more information visit group tours.

Over 60s
Monday – Wednesday between 10.00 -11.00 enjoy £5 tickets
Tickets for these timeslots are limited. Please arrive early to avoid disappointment

Under 25
Every Friday enjoy £5 entry (open late, until 21.00).

Large print guides
Large print guides are available at the entrance of the exhibition or by speaking to a member of staff. The large print guide is also available to download as a pdf here

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Bags
Due to the nature of the works on display, bags over 38 by 30cm, rucksacks and umbrellas are not permitted in this exhibition. Please make use of the Gallery cloakroom on Floor -2. For more information click here.


 

Events

A range of ticketed events including a film screening, talk, and lecture complement the exhibition.

Events (9)

9 events matching the search term Cecil Beaton’s

Lunchtime Lecture: The Mountbattens: Their Lives and Loves

Lunchtime Lecture: The Mountbattens: Their Lives and Loves

2 April 2020, 13:15
Ondaatje Wing Theatre
Tickets: £4 (£3 concessions and Gallery Supporters)

Prize-winning and bestselling historian Andrew Lownie provides a fresh and revealing portrait of the glamorous couple behind the modern royal family.


Find out more Book now
Lecture: Malice in Wonderland: Cecil Beaton and his Friends

Lecture: Malice in Wonderland: Cecil Beaton and his Friends

  • Talks and Lectures||Friday Lates
  • Book now

A part of Friday Lates
3 April 2020, 19:00
Ondaatje Wing Theatre

Cancelled

Tickets: £10 (£8 concessions and Gallery Supporters)

Cecil Beaton (1904-80) was a self-creation. Through the art of photography he rose to become one of the great observers of the Twentieth Century.

 


Find out more Book now
Members’ Evening Private View: David Hockney: Drawing from Life and Cecil Beaton’s Bright Young Things

Members’ Evening Private View: David Hockney: Drawing from Life and Cecil Beaton’s Bright Young Things

  • For Members

20 April 2020, 18:30-20:30
Wolfson Gallery and Porter Plus

Cancelled

This event is now fully booked

Join us for a viewing of drawing and photography in an evening that celebrates two artists renowned for their craft. David Hockney: Drawing from Life and Cecil Beaton’s Bright Young Things.

No need to RSVP, simply bring your Membership card to the entrance of the exhibition for admittance to this Members’ only preview.


Find out more
Weekend Workshop: A Symphony in Silver: Beaton Photography Workshop

Weekend Workshop: A Symphony in Silver: Beaton Photography Workshop

25 April 2020, 11:00-17:00
Education Studio

Cancelled

Tickets: £75 (£65 concessions and Gallery Supporters)

Join photographer Marysa Dowling for a one-day Workshop where you will construct your own Cecil Beaton inspired world of eccentric glamour in our portrait studio. Working with a model and using lighting, backdrops and everyday materials such as bubble wrap and tin foil, you will create a series of dreamy portraits inspired by Beaton's work of the '20s and '30s.


Find out more Book now
BSL Tour: Cecil Beaton’s Bright Young Things

BSL Tour: Cecil Beaton’s Bright Young Things

  • Talks and Lectures||Friday Lates
  • BSL

A part of Friday Lates
8 May 2020, 19:30
Meet in the Main Hall

Cancelled

Free

Join Serena Cant for a tour of our major exhibition which explores the extravagant world of the glamorous and stylish 'Bright Young Things' of the twenties and thirties, seen through the eye of the renowned British photographer Cecil Beaton. Led in British Sign Language (BSL).


Find out more
In Conversation: Beaton Portraits with Sir Roy Strong and William Sitwell

In Conversation: Beaton Portraits with Sir Roy Strong and William Sitwell

  • Talks and Lectures||Friday Lates
  • Book now

A part of Friday Lates
15 May 2020, 17:00
Ondaatje Wing Theatre

Cancelled

Tickets: £10 (£8 concessions and Gallery Supporters)

Sir Roy Strong, former Director of the National Portrait Gallery, revisits Beaton Portraits, the wildly popular and ground-breaking 1968 exhibition he curated.


Find out more Book now
In Conversation: Tim Walker and Robin Muir

In Conversation: Tim Walker and Robin Muir

  • Talks and Lectures||Friday Lates
  • Book now

A part of Friday Lates
15 May 2020, 19:00
Ondaatje Wing Theatre

Cancelled

Tickets: £10 (£8 concessions and Gallery Supporters)

Tim Walker’s  interest in photography began at the Condé Nast library in London where he worked as an intern on the Cecil Beaton archive for a year before university.


Find out more Book now
Lunchtime Lecture: Cecil Beaton: A Personal Perspective

Lunchtime Lecture: Cecil Beaton: A Personal Perspective

21 May 2020, 13:15
Ondaatje Wing Theatre

Cancelled

Tickets: £4 (£3 concessions and Gallery Supporters)

Philippe Garner was instrumental in securing The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive for Sotheby’s in 1977. In this lecture he shares his experience of working with the renowned photographer.


Find out more Book now
In Conversation: Dressing Up

In Conversation: Dressing Up

  • Talks and Lectures||Friday Lates
  • Book now

A part of Friday Lates
22 May 2020, 19:00
Ondaatje Wing Theatre

Cancelled

Tickets: £10 (£8 concessions and Gallery Supporters)

Cecil Beaton’s early studio portraits of debutantes and celebrities helped define the image of the ‘Bright Young Thing’, with elaborate backdrops and dramatic costumery.


Find out more Book now

 


Members viewing portrait

© David Parry & National Portrait Gallery

Members

Enjoy three years for the price of one. Get free unlimited entry to Cecil Beaton’s Bright Young Things and David Hockney: Drawing From Life, plus many more benefits.

Join Today

Exhibition Shop

Exhibition Shop

Discover our Beaton-inspired range – from stylish totes and tee shirts to our exhibition catalogue.

Buy Now

Portrait Restaurant bar

Portrait Restaurant

Experience the flamboyant, decadent style of the Bright Young Things with Portrait Restaurant’s special cocktail and ticket package for £30.00.

To book your place and exhibition ticket, contact the Portrait Restaurant directly on 020 7312 2490.

Book Now


Group Tours

Group visiting Gallery

Discover more about the exhibition with a private lecture by an expert art historian or artist in the Ondaatje Wing Theatre, followed by a visit to the exhibition. Prices include exhibition entry.

£30 Person

 Book now


Photography Competition

Cecil Beaton by Paul Tanqueray, 1937. National Portrait Gallery, London. © Estate of Paul Tanqueray.

Cecil Beaton (detail) by Paul Tanqueray, 1937. National Portrait Gallery, London. © Estate of Paul Tanqueray.

Would you like to see your work on display at the National Portrait Gallery? Yes? Then enter our photography competition.

Cecil Beaton’s Bright Young Things brings to life the extravagant, eccentric, glamorous and creative world of the ‘Bright Young Things’ of the twenties and thirties. Taking inspiration from Beaton’s photography, we are asking our Instagram followers to create their own portrait, inspired by one of the following themes:

  • Costume and Masquerade: Beaton often attended extravagant parties and pageants, designing costumes for his friends and acquaintances. Have fun dressing up. Capture yourself or your friends and family in creative costumes made from everyday items.

  • Fashion and style: Beaton photographed for some of the world’s leading fashion magazines, including Vogue. Create images to evoke current trends and/or your own personal style.

  • Props: As a teenager, when taking photographs of his younger sisters Nancy and Baba, Beaton would use everyday items as props to create glorious backdrops for his portrait photographs. Transform everyday materials into glamourous accessories. Be inventive with props and backdrops to tell a story in your photograph.

  • Performance: Whether capturing well-known performers, or finding artistic inspiration in the performances taking place around him, the idea of performance was central to Beaton’s portraiture. Perform for the camera – create a character or capture a talented friend or family member and record this performance with photography.

  • Self-Portraits: Alongside portraits of his family, friends and celebrities Beaton also made many self-portraits. From a young age, he used mirrors and props to present himself as an artist at work in his studio, and transformed his appearance using costumes, wigs and makeup into fabulous theatrical alter-egos. Consider how to create and present a self-portrait photograph. What aspects of yourself would this image explore? Show yourself as an artist at work with your camera, or play with the idea of identity and dressing up.

25 and Over Competition: #BYTComp

Under 25s Competition: #BYTCompU25

If you are entering the U25s competition, consider the idea of modern youth culture. Taking your lead from the themes above (Costume and Masquerade; Fashion and Style; Props; Performance and Self-Portraits) think about the following - Who are your 2020 ‘Bright Young Things’? Is there a famous face or a talented friend or family member you admire? Do they act as a source of creative inspiration? If so, try to incorporate them into your entry!

Follow @nationalportraitgallery on Instagram. If you do not already have an Instagram account, you will need to download the app to your smartphone or tablet and register for free.

You can take your photo portrait using a camera, phone or tablet. Filters and other effects may be applied, but are not essential.

Simply post your entry using the correct hashtag to be in with a chance of having your work on display at the National Portrait Gallery, London.

Caption the photograph with a title, your full name and category # (see above), and upload to Instagram.

Please note: if your Instagram account is private, we will not be able access your entry.

The deadline for submissions is 9am Tuesday 14 April 2020.

Shortlisted photographers will be contacted via Instagram on Friday 17 April and asked to send in a high-resolution version of their work. This needs to be submitted by 9am on Monday 20 April. Competition winners will be notified on Tuesday 21 April.

There is a further category for schools. Contact education@npg.org.uk to register your interest and receive an entry form. Or alternatively click here for more information. Please note the deadline for the school competition is Monday 20 April 1.30pm.

Entries will be judged by Exhibition Curator Robin Muir, Photographer Tim Walker and Magda Keaney, Senior Curator, Photographs.

The winning entries will be displayed at the National Portrait Gallery, London, from 28 April – 7 June.

All entries can be taken using either a camera, smartphone or tablet.

The competition is limited to 5 entries per person.

Images must be produced in response to the exhibition Cecil Beaton’s Bright Young Things and the criteria outlined in the above text, and must be identifiable as portraits.

By submitting your work, you confirm that your contribution is your own original work, is not defamatory and does not infringe any UK laws and that you have the consent of a parent / guardian for anyone under eighteen who is identifiable in your contribution. Proof of consent for anyone under the age of eighteen will need to be supplied by all shortlisted photographers (please use the following consent form*).

By entering the competition, you confirm that the National Portrait Gallery may reproduce images for the purposes of marketing and promotion, including use on the Gallery website and social media sites.

All entries must be submitted by 9am Tuesday 14 April. Entries received after this time will not be eligible for consideration.

Shortlisted photographers will be contacted via Instagram on Friday 17 April and asked to send in a high-resolution version of their work. This needs to be submitted by 9am on Monday 20 April.

Only high-resolution images will be eligible for display at the Gallery.

The judges will select the winning photos (first, second and third prize for each category). Winners will be notified through Instagram or via email by Tuesday 21 April.

No cash alternative.

The Gallery reserves the right to substitute the prize with one of similar value at its own discretion.

The Gallery also reserves the right to withdraw or amend the competition as necessary due to circumstances outside its control.

Employees of the National Portrait Gallery their families, agents or anyone else connected with the competition are not permitted to enter.


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National Portrait Gallery


St Martin's Place
London
WC2H 0HE
020 7306 0055
Contact us


Opening hours


Daily 10.00 – 18.00
Fridays until 21.00
Last admission to the exhibition is one hour before the Gallery closes.
Exiting commences ten minutes before the closing time.


Friday Lates


Enjoy a drink at the bar and music inspired by our exhibitions, join our hugely popular mass art occupation of the Gallery and explore ideas about art, culture and society with our talks programme every Friday until 21.00.

Getting to the Gallery


*

Leicester Square / Charing Cross

*

Charing Cross

 

For directions to the Gallery please click here

Shop entrance in St Martin's Place, please click here for more information on Access at the Gallery

Recorded information: 020 7312 2463
Text Direct: 18001

Recorded information: 020 7312 2463
Text Direct: 18001