Cecil Beaton (1904-1980) - one of the most celebrated fashion and portrait photographers of the 20th Century- is renowned for his images of elegance, glamour and style. Beaton was the official photographer to the Royal Family and took the famous wedding pictures of the Duke and the Duchess of Windsor. During the Second World War, Beaton worked for the British Ministry of Information as a documentary photographer. He was knighted in 1972.
This portrait is of Antonio de Gandarillas, Secretary to the Chilean Embassy in London in the 1900s, and nephew of the famed Chilean socialite and patron Eugenia Huici de Errazuriz. Antonio de Gandarillas was born in Chile in 1886 and educated at Cambridge. He married the daughter of the then Chilean Ambassador to Britain and owned a beautiful residence in London as well as an apartment in Paris.
To some, Antonio de Gandarillas was also known for his debaucherie. Gandarillas was a rich and well connected individual and while in Paris, in the 1920s, Gandarillas joined its fashionable artistic circles. There, he befriended Pablo Picasso, Georges Auric the famous French composer, and Jean Cocteau as well as the British artist Christopher Wood whom he supported financially and was said to have introduced to opium, and with whom he lived.
Not afraid of the ridicule, Gandarillas once posed for a picture by his friend Cecil Beaton, to be included in one of Beaton's books. The picture featured Gandarillas in woman's clothing, representing the imaginary Baroness Von Bulop.