MacDougall's Russian Art Auctions 1 December 2011

1 December 2011

Artist Index / Full Catalogue

Le Port de Famagouste. Set Design for "La Pisanelle ou la Mort parfumee"

401. BAKST, LÉON (1866-1924)

Le Port de Famagouste. Set Design for "La Pisanelle ou la Mort parfumee", signed.

Pencil, watercolour and gouache on cardboard, 24 by 39 cm.
40,000-60,000 GBP

Executed c. 1913.

Provenance: Gilberte Cournand, Galerie La Danse, Paris (label on the reverse).
Important private collection, Germany.

Exhibited: Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, Netherlands, 1964 (label on the reverse).

Literature: Inedited Works of Bakst, with essays by L. Réau, D. Roche, V. Svietlov and A. Tessier, New York, Brentano’s, 1927, p. 67, illustrated in colour.
Leon Bakst, with an introduction by Carl Einstein, Berlin, Verlag Ernst Wasmuth, p. 38, illustrated in colour.

The brilliant Russian painter, draughtsman and stage and costume designer, Léon Bakst, is one of the star cast of artists who made Russia famous far beyond her borders. Entering art history specifically as an outstanding theatrical designer, Bakst had made his debut as early as 1902, when he produced the sets for La coeur de la marquise. Next, in 1903, came the production of the ballet The Fairy Doll, notable principally for the lavish sets Bakst created. Yet this remarkable artist’s talent was only demonstrated in earnest from 1910 onwards, as a designer for Sergei Diaghilev’s legendary Ballets Russes.

Bakst created the present design for the 1913 production of La Pisanelle by Gabriele d’Annunzio at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris. For this play, directed by Vsevolod Meyerhold, Ida Rubinstein was engaged in the leading role and the choreography was by Mikhail Fokine. Bakst’s design is unusually arresting, depicting the arrival of ships at the ancient Cypriot port of Famagusta, and is full of typically “Bakstian” movement. The exquisite colours of this small but significant work rank it among Bakst’s undisputed watercolour masterpieces.

Notes on symbols:
* Indicates 5% Import Duty Charge applies.
Ω Indicates 20% Import Duty Charge applies.
§ Indicates Artist's Resale Right applies.
† Indicates Standard VAT scheme applies, and the rate of 20% VAT will be charged on both hammer price and premium.