See Cecil Beaton’s photos of dowager duchess

Chatsworth House will host the Never a Bore exhibition documenting Deborah Cavendish’s life and glittering social circle in beautiful photography.

Duchess of Devonshire, Chatsworth, Cecil Beaton
Duchess of Devonshire, December 1949 All images: The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive

A fascinating collection of rarely seen and intimate photographs of the late Dowager Duchess of Devonshire and youngest Mitford sister, Deborah Cavendish, and her glittering social circle taken by her friend and illustrious portrait photographer Cecil Beaton are to go on display at Chatsworth House.

The Never a Bore: Deborah Devonshire and Her Set exhibition, which runs from 19 March to 3 January 2017, takes its inspiration from one of Beaton’s most famous remarks: “Perhaps the world’s second-worst crime is boredom; the first is being a bore.”

Deborah Devonshire, Cecil Beaton, Chatsworth
Deborah Cavendish and Cecil Beaton

Beaton was an early houseguest of the Devonshires when they moved to the resplendent Chatsworth House in 1959, and captured many candid and relaxed portraits of his friend, Deborah Cavendish, who was the last surviving of the six Mitford sisters – who achieved notoriety for their controversial but stylish lives – until her death at the age of 94 in 2014.

Duchess of Devonshire, Chatsworth
Duchess of Devonshire, Chatsworth, July 1960

The exhibition will recreate the essence of the duchess’s world and dazzling social set. The images are combined with Cecil Beaton’s insightful and witty commentary, creating a fascinating insight into times.

Renowned for his images of glamour, elegance and style, Cecil Beaton photographed many of the 20th century’s most interesting personalities, from politicians and artists to Hollywood legends.

Daisy Fellowes, Cecil Beaton
Daisy Fellowes, the Beistegui Ball, Venice, 1951. The ball was dubbed ‘Party of the Century’ and was attended by Deborah Cavendish

This new exhibition presents around 65 photographs from The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive, on loan from Sotheby’s, along with other rarely seen items from the Chatsworth archive. On display in the New Gallery, the exhibition is included in the normal house admission.

For more information and ticketing options, visit Chatsworth House.

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