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  • Place of origin:

    Buckingham Palace (photographed)

  • Date:

    1939 (photographed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Beaton, Cecil (Sir), born 1904 - died 1980 (photographer)

  • Materials and Techniques:


  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed to the Museum in 1987 by Eileen Hose, secretary to the photographer

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level F, case X, shelf 914, box F

Physical description

Photograph depicting Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. Seated, full-length, wearing a gown embroidered with sequins and a diamond tiara. Her face is seen in profile, looking downwards to the left. She holds a partly-opened fan and in her hands. Flowers surround the chair; hydrangeas, carnations, and gladioli. A gilt and upholstered foot-stool is just seen at the base of the image, beneath folds of the dress. A backdrop depicts an enlarged and adapted section of 'The Swing' by the French painter Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732-1806).

Place of Origin

Buckingham Palace (photographed)


1939 (photographed)


Beaton, Cecil (Sir), born 1904 - died 1980 (photographer)

Materials and Techniques


Marks and inscriptions

'A delightful study of Her Majesty The queen posed against a floral background of hydrangeas, lilies and roses, by Mr. Cecil Beaton.'
These words have been typed using a type-writer onto a slip of paper, and glued to the reverse of the photograph.


Width: 16.3 cm image, Height: 23 cm image, Width: 16.3 cm paper, Height: 23 cm paper

Descriptive line

Royal Portrait by Cecil Beaton (1904-1980). Photograph depciting Queen Elizabeth (later Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother), Buckingham Palace, 1939.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Strong, Roy C. Cecil Beaton: the royal portraits. London: Thames and Hudson, c1988. p. 64-5

Labels and date

Queen Elizabeth, Buckingham Palace

Beaton’s first photographs of the Queen consciously evoked painted portraiture, in particular the romantic royal portraits by Thomas Gainsborough (1727–88) and Franz Xaver Winterhalter (1805–73). The fairytale effect is heightened by cascading arrangements of flowers and a backdrop based on a famous Rococo painting, The Swing (1767), by Jean-Honoré Fragonard. Here, the Queen wears a silk tulle crinoline by royal couturier Norman Hartnell (1901–79), who revived the crinoline when he designed the Queen’s wardrobe for the State Visit to Paris in 1938.

Gelatin silver print
V&A: Ph.964-1987

Production Note

Cecil Beaton photographed members of the royal family from 1930-1979.




Gelatin silver process


Photographs; Portraits; Royalty


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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