Description

    Léon Bakst's Designs for Diaghilev's London Staging of "Sleeping Beauty"

    Léon Bakst. The Designs of Léon Bakst for The Sleeping Princess. A Ballet in Five Acts after Perrault. Music by Tchaikovsky. Preface by André Levinson. London: Benn Brothers Limited, 1923.
    First English edition (first published in French in 1922 with title: L'Œuvre de Léon Bakst pour La belle au bois dormant). Limited to 1,000 numbered copies (this copy being Number 369). Large folio (15 x 8.375 inches). [4], 18, [2, list of illustrations] pages of text. Lithographed portrait of Bakst by Picasso and fifty-four mounted color plates, with captioned tissue guards, and two additional mounted color illustrations (on title and at head of list of illustrations).

    Original quarter vellum over blue fine diagonally-ribbed cloth. Spine lettered in gilt. Top edge gilt, others uncut. Corners and board edges rubbed, slight discoloration to vellum spine, some soiling and staining to cloth boards. Paper very slightly browned, a few tissue guards creased. An excellent copy, with the plates generally clean and bright.

    "As part of Diaghilev's Ballets Russes, [Léon Bakst (1866-1924)] revolutionized both theatrical design and contemporary fashion with his sensual and exotic visions. He first collaborated with Diaghilev in St Petersburg on the magazine World of Art, which he co-founded in 1899. His career as a designer began in 1900 with Petipa's Le Cœur de la Marquise, for the Hermitage Theatre in St Petersburg. In 1909 he went with Diaghilev to Paris, designing Fokine's Cléopâtre, the first of a series of gorgeous Bakst creations for the Ballets Russes. Subsequent seasons brought Carnaval and Scheherazade (1910), Spectre de la rose and Narcisse (1911), Le Dieu bleu, Thamar, L'Après-midi d'un faune, and Daphnis et Chloé (1912), Jeux (1913), Les Femmes de bonne humeur (1917), and Diaghilev's London staging of The Sleeping Princess (1921), for which Bakst designed elaborate and extravagantly expensive sets and costumes...Although Bakst used many styles, he is probably best remembered for his wildly coloured Orientalist designs and his tantalizing eroticism, the finest example of which is undoubtedly Scheherazade" (The Oxford Dictionary of Dance).

    Colas 195. Hiler, p. 60.


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    Auction Dates
    February, 2008
    21st-22nd Thursday-Friday
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