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Signed Presentation Portraits of Prince George and Princess Marina, The Duke and Duchess of Kent, 1942.
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Signed Presentation Portraits of Prince George and Princess Marina, The Duke and Duchess of Kent, 1942.

Measurements: Overall: 13cm (12.5in) x 23cm (9in)

£1400

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Half-length portrait photograph of the Duke of Kent in R.A.F. Group Captain’s uniform, signed by the subject ink 'George 1942', and by the photographer Three-quarter length portrait taken by Cecil Beaton in 1939 of the Duchess, wearing the Cambridge Sapphire Parure - one of the oldest sets of royal sapphires, originally belonging to the Duchess of Cambridge, a daughter-in-law of King George III, later inherited by Queen Mary and given to her daughter-in-law, Princess Marina. Signed in ink lower left 'Marina 1942'. Contained in gilt tooled blue leather folding frame by Jarrolds of Sloane Street, London, S.W.

The Duke and Duchess of Kent were hugely popular with the British public in the 1930s, and their home at 3 Belgrave Square, for which he designed the interior decoration, was a focal point for pre-war London society. Prince George (1902-1942, the fourth son of George V, was especially close to his brother Edward, the fashionable Prince of Wales. From the late 1920s, they lived together in York House, a part of St. James’s Palace. Their unusual kinship of spirit included an interest in clothes, socialising, the good life, dubious company, getting into trouble and irritating the establishment, particularly the King. From the mid-’20s to the mid-’30s, the princely bachelors were style arbiters and favourites of the social pages on both sides of the Atlantic. Despite his own chequered reputation, Edward seems to have been given the task of reining in his tearaway brother. George played the piano well, spoke French and Italian, liked fast cars, preferred skiing and sailing to shooting, possessed a clear streak of narcissism, and had a dangerous taste for adventure. He was killed on 25 August 1942, in an aeroplane crash at Eagles Rock, near Dunbeath, Scotland while on active service with the R.A.F.  

Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent (1906-1968) married Prince George in 1934. She was the daughter of Prince Nicholas of Greece and Denmark, the third son of George I of Greece. Her mother was Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna of Russia, a granddaughter of Tsar Alexander II. Following the overthrow of the Greek monarchy, she lived with her family in Europe staying with relatives until her marriage. Regarded as the first modern royal fashion icon, she was the inspiring muse of designers, artists and photographers. After her husband's death, she continued to be an active member of the British Royal Family, carrying out a wide-range of engagements. She was the longtime president of the Wimbledon All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club.

Sir Cecil Beaton, C.B.E. (1904-80) ranks amongst the most important photographers of the 20th century, and is best known for his fashion photographs and society portraits. He worked as a staff photographer for Vanity Fair and Vogue in addition to photographing celebrities in Hollywood. He was further acclaimed as a stage and screen costume and set designer on both sides of the Atlantic, earning himself Academy Awards in 1958 and 1968. He was educated at Heath Mount School (where he was bullied by Evelyn Waugh), at Harrow and St John’s College Cambridge. Having rejected the security of paid employment in his family’s timber business, he joined Vogue in 1927 and set up his own studio.
 

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