Cecil Beaton’s London’s Honourable Scars: Photographs of the Blitz

Cecil Beaton’s London’s Honourable Scars: Photographs of the Blitz


The exhibition features 15 photographs from the London’s Honourable Scars series that document the devastating of London, capturing an era that Winston Churchull described as Britain’s “finest hour.” It was here in the throes of World War II that Britain stood alone against the German onslaught that rained down like clockwork.

Between September 7, 1940 and May 21, 1941, more than 100 long tons of high explosives were dropped on 16 British cities. In total, London was attacked 71 times over a period of 267, with 57 of the bombings falling on consecutive nights. More than 40,000 civilians were killed and over one million homes were destroyed. The Germans were intent upon demoralizing the British into surrender—but they failed.

Part of the reason for this was that the Germans dropped bombs at the same time every night, allowing the British to organize and prepare themselves for the onslaught. Every day, some 150,000 people queued up to sleep in underground bunkers, where they remained unharmed, able to adapt themselves to the stress of living through war. With the threat of the unknown, they were able to adjust, going so far as to talked about the raids as if it were the weather, describing a day as “very blitzy.”

Cecil Beaton’s London’s Honourable Scars
Photographs of the Blitz
September 18, 2016 – January 8, 2017

Santa Barbara Museum of Art
1130 State St Santa Barbara, CA 93101
sbma.net

Cecil Beaton, Bloomsbury Square, circa 1940. Gelatin silver print. SBMA, Gift of Mrs. Ala Story. © The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive at Sotheby’s

Cecil Beaton, Bloomsbury Square, circa 1940. Gelatin silver print. SBMA, Gift of Mrs. Ala Story. © The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive at Sotheby’s

Cecil Beaton, Dr. Johnson Outside His Church, circa 1940. Gelatin silver print. SBMA, Gift of Mrs. Ala Story. © The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive at Sotheby’s

Cecil Beaton, Dr. Johnson Outside His Church, circa 1940. Gelatin silver print. SBMA, Gift of Mrs. Ala Story. © The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive at Sotheby’s

Cecil Beaton, St. Andrew by the wardrobe, circa 1940. Gelatin silver print. SBMA, Gift of Mrs. Ala Story. © The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive at Sotheby’s

Cecil Beaton, St. Andrew by the wardrobe, circa 1940. Gelatin silver print. SBMA, Gift of Mrs. Ala Story. © The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive at Sotheby’s

Cecil Beaton, St. Paul’s seen through a Victorian Shopfront, circa 1940. Gelatin silver print. SBMA, Gift of Mrs. Ala Story. © The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive at Sotheby’s

Cecil Beaton, St. Paul’s seen through a Victorian Shopfront, circa 1940. Gelatin silver print. SBMA, Gift of Mrs. Ala Story. © The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive at Sotheby’s


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