Cecil Beaton, ‘The Blitz/Western Campanile of St. Paul’s seen through Victorian shop-front’, 1940, Phillips

From the Catalogue:
One of the most prolific photographic and literary diarists of the 20th century, Cecil Beaton created a vivid record of the destruction of London during World War II. Beaton was best known for his fashion photography and elegant studio portraiture, but his wartime work for the Ministry of Information and the Royal Air Force showed him to be a photojournalist of real talent and feeling. Roaming the decimated streets of London with his camera, Beaton found a poignant symbol of Britain’s resilience in the twin towers of St. Paul’s cathedral “rising mysteriously from the splintered masonry and smoke” (The Years Between, Diaries: 1939-44, p. 59).

It has recently been discovered that Charles Sheeler used the shape of this stone archway for his 1941 painting Nativity. While Sheeler regularly used his own photographs as source material for his paintings, his use of photographs by others is less documented. For Nativity, a painting in the Magic Realist style, Sheeler replicated the overall shape and textural details of the arch. Sheeler likely encountered the arch in a photograph by Hans Wild in LIFE magazine, taken on the same day and from the same vantage point as Beaton’s.
Courtesy of Phillips

Signature: Credit stamp, titled and variously annotated in unidentified hands in pencil and ink on the verso.

Beaton, Air of Glory, A Wartime Scrapbook, p. 76, there titled Apocalypse
Beaton, Theatre of War, p. 18, there titled St. Paul's Cathedral after a heavy incendiary raid, London
Beaton, The Years Between, Diaries: 1939-44, p. 64

The Saturday Book' Picture Library (the contents of which were dispersed at auction in the early 1970s)
Christie's, London, 6 May 1993, lot 98

About Cecil Beaton