Costume Design for the 'Sultan Samarkand' for the Ballet 'Schéhérazade'

Léon Bakst Russian

Not on view

This drawing represents a costume study for the 'Sultan Samarkand' for the ballet 'Schéhérazade,' by Léon Bakst. First performed in Paris in 1910, it was the first original creation of the Ballets Russes, under the direction of Sergei Diaghilev. It would also prove to be one of the most successful ballets Bakst designed company. Not only did it feature star performers Vaslav Nijinki and Ida Rubinstein, but the exotic setting and colorful costumes proved a feast for the eye, described by a popular retrospective of Bakst’s work as ‘a perfect tornado of colour’. Its popularity was increased even further by the highly erotic and dramatic storyline, which caused Bakst to be labeled as an ‘erotomaniac’. The costume designs that have been preserved not only show the richness of Bakst's work, but also capture the violent and dramatic nature of the story about the sultan who killed 1,000 wives after the wedding night out of fear of infidelity.

Costume Design for the 'Sultan Samarkand' for the Ballet 'Schéhérazade', Léon Bakst (Russian, Grodno 1866–1924 Paris), Watercolor, graphite, and gold paint

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