Léon Bakst Russian, 1866-1924
One exhibition in the early Twentieth Century which demonstrates not only the gallery’s commitment to art outside of conventional art forms and but also to modernity was an exhibition of Leon Bakst’s Drawings for Ballets, Plays and Costumes.
Born in Russia in 1866, Léon Bakst was a rebel against 19th Century realism ; void of imagination or theatricality. In the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries the role of theatre designer didn’t exist, and so Bakst took his hand to stage, costume and prop design. The FIne Art Society exhibited Baksts drawings and designs for the Russian Ballet and to celebrate the arrival of Diaghilev’s Russian Ballet in London. Like the ballet itself the costume designs were extraordinarily vivid and exotic and the exhibition attracted a highly sophisticated public. Sir Philip Sassoon was a buyer at the exhibtion and recommended Bakst to his cousin James de Rothschild as the ideal artist to decorate the Rothschild’s London dining room. The gallery produced a beautiful publication illustrating the designs which was issued in a numbered edition, the list of subscribers is testament to the gallery’s appeal to a smart international audience.