Léon Bakst born 10 May 1866 (d. 1924)
Léon Nikolayevich Bakst was a Russian painter and scene- and costume-designer who revolutionised the arts he worked in.
Léon Bakst was born as Lev (Leib) Rosenberg in Grodno (currently Belarus) in a middle-class Jewish family. After graduating from gymnasium (school), he studied at St Petersburg Academy of Arts as a non-credit student, working part-time as a book illustrator.
On his first exhibition (1889) he took the name of Bakst based on his maternal grandmother's family name, Baxter - Rosenburg was considered too Jewish and not good for business. At the beginning of the 1890s he exhibited his works with the Society of Watercolourists. During 1893-1897 he lived in Paris, where he studied at the Académie Julian while still visiting St Petersburg often. After the mid-1890s he became a member of the circle of writers and artists formed by Sergei Diaghilev and Alexandre Benois, which later became the Mir Iskusstva art movement.
In 1899, he co-founded with Sergei Diaghilev the influential periodical World of Art. His graphics for the World of Art magazine brought him fame.
He continued easel painting as well producing portraits of Filipp Malyavin (1899), Vasily Rozanov (1901), Andrei Bely (1905) [pictured left], Zinaida Gippius (1906). He also worked as an art teacher for children of Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich. In 1902 he took a commission from Tsar Nicholas II to paint Meeting of Russian sailors in Paris.
In 1898 he showed his works in the Diaghilev-organised First exhibition of Russian and Finnish Artists; in World of Art exhibitions, as well as the Secession in Munich, exhibitions of the Union of Russian Artists, etc.
After the end of the decade of the 1900s, Bakst worked mostly as a stage-designer. Bakst designed settings for Greek tragedies, and in 1908 made a name as a stage and costume designer for Diaghilev with the Ballets Russes (Cleopatra 1909, Shakherezada 1910, Carnaval 1910, Narcissus 1911, Daphnis et Chloé 1912). For this work, Bakst was to make a massive contribution in changing the visual vocabulary of theatre and dance.
During his visits to St Petersburg he taught in Zvantseva's school. One of his students was Marc Chagall (1908-1910).
In 1914 Bakst was elected a member of the Imperial Academy of Arts.
In 1918 he severed his ties with Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes. He died in 1924 in Paris from lung problems.
Top right: Self-portrait by Leon Bakst. Bottom left: Portrait of Leon Bakst by Amadeo Modigliani
Design by Léon Bakst for Phedre and Theseus in 1923
Popular Themes and Searches
Academics Activists Actors Architects Aristocrats Artists Ballet Beat Generation Bisexuals Broadcasters Broadway Businessmen Choreographers Classical Music Comedians Composers Critics Dancers Death by suicide Death from HIV/Aids DJs Drag Fashion Designers Female Impersonators Film Film Directors Hollywood Illustrators Journalists Leftfield/Avant-Garde Military Men Musical Theatre Musicians Novelists Olympic Medalists Oscar Wilde Painters Photographers Playwrights Poets Politicians Popular Music Porn Stars Radio Screenwriters Singers Songwriters Sportsmen Television Theatre Theatre Directors Tony Award winners Victorians World War 2 World War I Writers