Art A-Z: B – Bakst Lev

Lev (Leo) Samoilovich Bakst (Rosenberg) (1866, Grodno – 1924, Paris) – painter, illustrator, theatre decorator.

In 1883 – 1887 – student of the Academy of Art (Saint-Petersburg). In 1891 travelled to Europe, made studies in several workshops in Paris.

Decoration for ballet “Scheherazade”, 1916

Bakst was one of members of “Mir Iskusstva” (World of Art) fellowship, in 1899 – 1904 he was main illustrator of its review. In 1909 – 1920 – decorator of Dyagilev’s “Ballets Russes”, worked in Paris since 1911. Since 1914 – academic of Russian Academy of Art.

Baskt was one of few Russian artists of the beginning of XX century, who was more famous abroad than in Russia. His colourful decorations and designs of costumes for Ballets Russes charmed European public.

Design of costume for ballet “Narcissus”, 1911

His style, inspired by Orient, influenced not only theatre, but also fashion, including Paul Poiret, whose bright colours dominated women’s fashion in the end of 1910s and 1920s.

Besides, Bakst painted a lot of portraits, but, unlike his works in theatre, his panel painting is typical for “Mir Iskusstva” members.




Art A-Z: A – Abramtsevo Circle

(Art A-Z is a dictionary of Russian art)

Abramtsevo circle – fellowship of outstanding Russian artists (painters, sculptors, architects) emerged in mid 1870s in Abramtsevo, estate owned by famous philanthropist Savva Mamontov.

Rich entrepreneur Savva Mamontov bought Abramtsevo, situated not far from Moscow, in 1870, the estate was previously owned by a family of Russian writer, Aksakov.

Mamontov was connoisseur of art and financially supported a lot of artists, including prominent Russian singer Fedor Shalyapin.

In Abramtsevo, Mamontov gathered painters Viktor Vasnetsov, Vasiliy Polenov, Ilya Repin, Mikhail Vrubel, Valentin Serov, Mikhail Nesterov, scultptor Mark Antokolsiy and others. The fellowship did not have any charter or programme and was inspired by Russian history, folklore and fairy tales.

The group’s aesthetics was influenced by modern, symbolism and neo-Russian style, although  each representative had his own particular style.

мамонтов и ко
Left to right – Surikov (seating), Repin, Mamontov (at the piano), Korovin, Serov, Antokolskiy

Mamontov also paid attention to applied arts and created a ceramic workshop in Abramtsevo, which was transferred to Moscow at the beginning of 1900s when the fellowship split up. The workshop was the place where a lot of decorative panels were made for buildings in Moscow.

Tip 1

You can learn more about Savva Mamontov and some members of Abramtsevo Circle in the course of our Walking Tour.

Tip 2

Abramtsevo is open for visits, it is a very nice place to go in summer.