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Pseudonyms,autonyms and aliases: Rosenberg, Leon, Leib-Haim, Izrailevich 1866–1924  

BAKST (Rosenberg) Lev Samoilovich (Léon, Leib-Haim Izrailevich)

April 17 (May 9), 1866 (Grodno) — December 27, 1924 (Paris)

Painter, graphic artist, scene-designer, master of decorative and applied arts, art theoretician

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Бакст, Лев Самойлович


BAKST (Rosenberg) Lev Samoilovich (Léon, Leib-Haim Izrailevich)

April 17 (May 9), 1866 (Grodno) — December 27, 1924 (Paris)

Painter, graphic artist, scene-designer, master of decorative and applied arts, art theoretician

Bakst was born to a middle-class Jewish family. He received his primary art education at the gymnasium in St. Petersburg. After graduation, Bakst studied as a noncredit student at the Imperial Academy of Arts (1883–­­1887) under I. L. Asknaziy, K. B. Venig, and P. P. Chistyakov. He left the Academy without completing the course, as his competition work Mother of God, mourning for Christ was rejected by the jury. In early 1890s Bakst studied watercolor techniques under the guidance of A. N. Benois.

In 1887–1890 Bakst worked at the A. N. Kanaev workshop of manuals and games. In 1888–1892 he illustrated books for children for A. A. Homushin and A. F. Devrien publishing houses. In 1890–1893 he worked in the magazines Khudozhnik (“Artist”) and Peterburgskaya zhizn (“St. Petersburg life”).

In 1890 he met A. Benois and became a member of art circle, which later was named Mir Iskusstva (“World of Art”).  In 1891 he visited Germany, Italy, Spain, and France. From 1893 to 1899 he lived in Paris. He studied at the Academy of R. Julian, at the G.-L. Jérôme studio, and at the Adelfelt Academy. Bakst traveled around Europe; in 1897 he went to North Africa. In 1895 he taught painting to the Grand Duke Boris Vladimirovich and Grand Duchess Helen Vladimirovna. In 1907 Bakst traveled around Greece with V. A. Serov. Since 1910 he lived permanently in Paris.

Lev Bakst was an artist and designer of the Mir Iskusstva magazine and exhibitions (1898–1904). Since 1898 he was engaged in lithography; illustrated Yezhegodnik imperatorskih tyeatrov (“Yearbook of Imperial Theatres”, 1899–1902) and the Khudozhestvennye sokrovishcha Rossii magazine (“Art Treasures of Russia”, 1901–1902). Bakst worked for the magazines Vesy (“The Scales”, 1903), Zolotoe Runo (“Golden Fleece”, 1906), Satirikon (1908), Apollon (“Apollo”, 1909); he made drawings for theatre programs and cards of the St. Eugenia Community (1902–1905). In 1905 he participated in the creation of the Zhupel (“Bugbear”) magazine.

Since 1901 Bakst concentrated purely on theatre: designed stage productions for the Hermitage (1902, 1903), Alexandrinsky (1902, 1904), the Mariinsky (1903) theatres in St. Petersburg, also for troupes under Ida Rubinstein (1904) and Anna Pavlova (1910s). In 1909–1918 and in 1921–1921 Bakst was an artist of the S. Dyagilev Russian Seasons in Paris (since 1911 — artistic director of the theatrical enterprise). Bakst also collaborated with other theatre troupes in Europe and America. He produced scenery for the play Hippolytus by Euripides (1902), the J. Bayer ballets Die Puppenfee (1903), Scheherazade by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1910), Zhar-ptitsa (“Firebird”) by I. F. Stravinsky (1910), Narziss (“Narcissus”) by N. N. Tcherepnin (1911), Daphnis et Chloé by Maurice Ravel (1912), The Sleeping Princess by P. I. Tchaikovsky (1916), Cleopatra (1909) and others.


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