REVEALED: Photo of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton taken by Cecil Beaton – who described star as 'vulgar, common monster' – surfaces after 40 years
Legendary society photographer Cecil Beaton loathed Taylor's 'crassness'
Photo kept in private collection of Beaton's friend now set to fetch 12k at auction
12:32 GMT, 17 May 2012
A photo of Elizabeth Taylor taken by Cecil Beaton has emerged after nearly 40 years after being kept in a private collection.
But surfacing along with the image is the revelation that society photographer Beaton loathed the 'monster' that was Elizabeth Taylor, and called both the star and her husband 'vulgar, common and crass'.
Despite his utter contempt for the late actress, the famed society photographer nonetheless captured Taylor in her prime, allowing her natural beauty shining through.
'Vulgar, common and crass': Cecil Beaton loathed what he called the 'monster' that was Elizabeth Taylor, but was forced to photograph the then 39-year-old star with husband Richard Burton at a black tie event in 1971
The black and white shot was taken by Beaton at a lavish black-tie ball in 1971 at which he was commissioned to snap the rich and famous guests.
Taylor, then aged 39, was pictured with her fifth husband Richard Burton.
She was captured wearing a couture Valentino dress with a Van Cleef and Arpels necklace entwined in her hair.
A short time later Beaton gave the photograph as a gift to friend Brian Hammond, who owned the famous Gerry's Club in London's Soho.
The framed picture hung in his club up until he died earlier this year. His family, who have inherited the image, are now selling it at auction in London where it is expected to sell for 12,000.
Sarah Wheeler, a specialist in the photographs section of Bloomsbury Auctions, said: 'The fact that Cecil Beaton produced such a beautiful portrait despite his personal dislike for them, shows what a consummate professional he was.'
'This photograph has never been sold at auction before and had been in private ownership for more than 30 years.
'It is a beautiful portrait of her.'
In Beaton's diaries that were later published, he wrote a damning opinion of Taylor and Burton following the brief photoshoot.
Damning: Beaton said Taylor 'combined the worst of U.S. and English taste' while Burton was 'as butch and coarse as only a Welshman can be
He wrote: 'I have always loathed the Burtons for their vulgarity, commonness and crass bad taste, she combining the worst of U.S. and English taste, he as butch and coarse as only a Welshman can be.
'She wanted compliments. She got none. I felt I must be professional and continued, but not without loathing at this monster.
'Round her neck was a velvet ribbon with the biggest diamond in the world pinned on it. On her fat, coarse hands more of the biggest diamonds and emeralds, her head a ridiculous mass of diamond necklaces, sewn together, with a snood of blue and black pom-poms and black aisprey aigrettes.
Scathing: Cecil Beaton was passionate in his hatred of Taylor and Burton
'Sausage curls! Alexandre, the hairdresser, had done his worst. And this was the world's biggest draw! In comparison everyone else looked ladylike.'
Beaton, who died in 1980, set up his own studio for the Rothschilds' Proust Ball held at the Chateau de Ferriere near Paris in December 1971.
He dressed himself up as the 19th century French photographer Felix Nadar while he took his pictures of the great and the good of the day.
Miss Wheeler said: 'Cecil Beaton was the only photographer there.
'He took one picture of Elizabeth Taylor by herself which sold at last year's Elizabeth Taylor auction for 31,000.
'This one for sale is of her and her then husband Richard Burton.
'The couple pose as actors showing off their best features although they are looking away from each other, her towards the camera, while he looks on ahead, adding to the fascination of the image.
'Their costume including their hair, is extremely different from the costume worn for the parts they played in Under Milk Wood which they filmed together earlier that year in a small Welsh fishing village.
'The photo was given by Cecil Beaton to the late Brian Hammond and it is his relatives who are selling it.
'It has been signed by Beaton in red pencil.'
The auction takes place in London next Tuesday.