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Postman. 1903

Bakst Léon,
Watercolour and gouache on paper
37 x 20,3 (очерчен)

State Russian Museum


Bakst’s fame as a stage set designer began with the ballet Die Puppenfee. Banal in content and traditional in choreography, this ballet was created by Nikolai and Sergei Legat and staged across Europe. Its completely new ring was all down to the “talented toils” of Bakst. The scene was St Petersburg of the
1840s–1850s — Gostiny Dvor, with its doll bazaars, and Nevsky Prospect, seen beyond the windows of the toy shop. The costume designs were firmly in keeping with the real sights of old St Petersburg. Among them, the Postman in his uniform is especially characteristic. The French doll, in her austere and
elegant dress with its minute details, represents the kingdom of dolls that comes to life in the course of the action. Bakst’s high artistic taste and feeling for style allowed him to turn “that silly little ballet Die Puppenfee” into “a wonderful, purely Hoffmann fairy tale” (Benois). In 1909 the ballet correspondent of
the Rech newspaper wrote: “Die Puppenfee is one of the most elegant and refined creations of modern art. The delight of this delicate miniature charm knows no limits ... It is impossible to tear one’s eyes away from these entrancing costumes, where every dot, speck, bow, curl, glove and even every beauty-spot is so delicately thought out, so stylish, so vividly necessary.”

Author's Biography

Bakst Léon

Bakst, Leon (Lev Samoilovich)
1866, Hrodno - 1924, Paris
Painter, graphic artist, theatrical designer. Studied at the Imperial Academy of Arts (1883-87) and the Atelier dc Jean Louis Gerome and Academic de Rodolphe Julian in Paris (1893-96). Taught at the Elizaveta Zwantseva School of Drawing and Painting in St Petersburg (1906-09). Member of the Society of Russian Waterecolourists (1891-1907), World of Art (1899-1903, 1906, 1913) and the Union of Russian Artists (1903-1910). Life member of the Salon d''''Automne (from 1906). Academician (1914). Contributed to many exhibitions of theatrical design and one-man shows. Designed sets and costumes for the Mariinsky Theatre and Alexandrinsky Theatre in St Petersburg, Paris Opera and theatres in London and New York. Leading designers of Sergei Diaghilev''''s Ballets Russes (from 1909) and the ballet companies of Anna Pavlova and Ida Rubinstein. Emigrated to Paris (1909).

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