Never a Bore: Deborah Devonshire and Her Set by Cecil Beaton
19 Mar 2016 – 3 Jan 2017
Beaton's intimate photographs of the late Dowager Duchess, Deborah Devonshire, and her glamorous circle of friends.
Through his camera lens and with his trademark panache, Cecil Beaton captured some of the brightest characters of the 20th century. From politicians to socialites, Hollywood legends to royalty, the cast included Deborah Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire, and her remarkable circle of family and friends.
A debutante in the last real ‘season’ before the Second World War, Deborah married Andrew Cavendish in 1941 – nine years before he unexpectedly inherited the title of 11th Duke of Devonshire. The self-proclaimed ‘Housewife Duchess’ immediately set about the restoration and development of Chatsworth, transforming it into a commercial enterprise and one of the most profitable country houses in England.
Known as 'Debo' – the youngest of the Mitford sisters from whom she tended to distance herself – she became the public face and chatelaine of Chatsworth House till her death in 2014.
Beaton was a regular guest, and this exhibition of his portraits of Deborah and her circle presents his own insightful and entertaining commentary alongside his images, conjuring a sense of what it must have been like to be part of that dazzling social set.