Russian seasons in Monte Carlo

The names of Diaghilev, Nijinsky, Bakst, Benois, Roerich, Dobuzhinsky, Stravinsky, Lifar, Goncharova, Larionov and other unforgettable stars of the Russian Seasons in Monaco, Paris, London ...
Hermitage Fine Art will have the pleasure to host auctions of Russian art, Fine Art and Manuscripts at the Hotel Metropole of Monte Carlo (4 Avenue de la Madone, 98000, Monaco). Bidders will be able to participate through online platforms, by telephone or in person (by pre-registration). The sales are scheduled at:
Tuesday, 2020 July 7
14:00 CET - Russian Art
Wednesday, 2020 July 8

Amongst the top lots associated with Russian theatre and the Ballets Russe:


Lot 18
A stage design for the Polovtsian Dances by Nikolay Roerich (1874-1947) from Borodin’s opera “Prince Igor”.
The piece comes from the Helena Roerich collection (Roerich Museum, New York).


In 1909 Roerich engaged with A.P. Borodin's opera "Prince Igor" for the first time, as Diaghilev included some of its fragments in the "Russian Seasons in Paris." It was no coincidence that Diaghilev invited Roerich, due to Roerich’s originality, and the relevance of his historical work to the production at hand. The artist perfectly recreated the atmosphere of "Polovtsy of the mill" from Borodin's opera. An astonishingly bright "Scythian program of nature" and highly original scenery design created an unforgettably authentic sense of the distant past, where the Old Russian spirit blended with the color of the East.

Rehearsals of "Polovtsian Dances" began in Russia under the direction of S.V. Fokin. And Roerich attended all rehearsals and worked with the opera director A.A. Sanin, with Fokin, and with the artists

The play featured the dramatic moment in history when Prince Igor was held captive by Polovtsy (the Cumans). As soon as the front curtain rose, the audience could see the scenic painting of the southern Russian steppe designed Roerich and under the beautiful lighting set by Diaghilev. A lyric choir, a dance of girls-neif, men's belligerent dancing and the boys' dance followed one another in the midst of decoration and accompanied by a full orchestra. Music, dance, scenery merged in a perfect synthesis of the arts.

Roerich's "panoramic" creation, devoid of lateral screens in the background, with its golden and scarlet sky above the endless distance of the steppes, with its smoke, its poles rising out of the motley stocky nomadic yurts set the scene perfectly! Alexander Benois remembered: “The costumes were exceptionally convincing. Diaghilev snatched all the Eastern shops of St. Petersburg's, so the costumes amazed with their unparalleled colourfulness”
In 1914-1915 in London in the program "Big Season of the Russian opera and ballet" Diaghilev performed the entire opera in four acts with a prologue, re-inviting Roerich for the set design.

The artist made some changes in the sketches the tones (colours) changed. The new vision of the director Sanin required a more heightened sense of drama, such as the feelings of languor, a thirst for freedom, and the themes of love in captivity.
Roerich solved this problem by introducing new shades into his sketches- bluish-green hues add mysteriousness to the southern steppe at night. Roerich created the scenery in a short period of time from late 1913 until early 1914.

From its premiere to 1920, the Polovtsian Stan withstood more than 500 productions in various theaters the world. Subsequent designers of "Prince Igor" repeatedly held to Roerikh's solutions that have become a true example of Russian theatrical painting.

The artist provided his sketches only for the purpose of creating the sets, but then they were exhibited and sold to museums and collectors.

The opera, as in the past, was a success, largely due to the design of the production. Unfortunately, Roerich was unable to attend the premiere. Artist O. Allegri wrote to him: "Last night "Igor" was staged to a full audience; the success was great, the British roared with delight!


Lot 426
For Russian opera in Paris, the program of the first season of Prince Igor, 1929.
This opera by A.P. Borodin became the premiere performance of the Paris private Opera.. 8 full-color, illustrations by K. Korovin. One colored insert lost.

Illustrations: portrait of the singer Maria Kuznetsova, photos of Alexandra Balakhova, Michel Benoit, conductor Emil Cooper and choreographer Mikhail Fokin. In the illustrated publishing cover designed by Ivan. Bilibin.

The opera of the Russian composer A.P. Borodin "Prince Igor" became the premiere performance of the Paris private Opera.

Artist - Konstantin Korovin.

Mikhail Larionov (1881-1964)
Lot 19
A theatrical costume designed and painted by Larionov for S. Diaghilev’s ballet “Chout”. Initially it was delayed for 6 years because of a conflict between Diaghilev and his choreographer. In 1921 this performance took place thanks to the work of Larionov who became director, choreographer and costume designer.
The oeuvre of Mikhail Larionov is closely connected with the "Russian seasons" of Sergei Diaghilev, which helped Larionov achieve global fame.

Larionov began to work on the ballet "The Jester" with music by S. Prokofiev back in 1915. However, at that time Diaghilev quarrelled with choreographer L. Myasin, and the production of the ballet was put off for six years. The ballet was first performed in 1921 in Paris, at the Theatre Gaeté-Lirique. Diaghilev assigned choreography to the ballet master and dancer Tadeusz Sławinski, who also failed this task. So Larionov became both director and director, and in the official poster of the performance the artist was officially designated as a choreographer.

In designing the ballet "The Jester", Larionov uses riot of colors Russian lubok, creating complex suits. In designing clothes, Larionov applied the method of “carcass structures” made up of painted planes imitating Russian lubok prints and folk dolls. The faces of artists were painted with bright doll-like make-up, and they wore heavy hats on their heads, which caused a lot of trouble to the dancers, preventing the performance of cunning pas, invented by Larionov himself to the annoyance of the ballet company.

The spectacular, originated from folk toys-based dolls, costumes, which were inspired by folk dolls, were made of unusual materials: crankshaft, willow, rods, textiles - hand-painted in person by Larionov. The production of "Jester" was one of the most unique occasions of ballet practice, when a performance and it premiered the premiere of which took place on the stage of one of the central Parisian theatres, and the artist was written sketched it from the beginning and to end the artist on paper.

The renowned ballet critic Léandre Villeau wrote: "As regards designs, curtains, decorations, costumes give the feeling of a card game deployed with a flick of the card fan in the hands of a professional card cheat. Impression the vividness of the crushed cut shapes of red, green, yellow, blue, naivety desirable. They're laughed at, applauded, booed."

Lot 423
Autographed book “L’art decoratif theatral modern”, a limited edition of the year 1919 with illustrations by Larionov and Goncharova. This book was printed in only 515 copies, and this lot is N°121.


Two lots by the famous Russian composer P. I. Tchaikovsky (1840-1893):
Lot 320
Autographed libretto of The Queen of Spades and Suite for Orchestra, with inscription in French on the back of the title page. (1887) of the composer P. I. Tchaikovsky (1840-1893).
Lot 321
A manuscript letter addressed to the French art critic Louis de Fourcau, dated 1884 and a portrait photograph of the composer P. I. Tchaikovsky (1840-1893).


Lot 20
Stage design for “The Tragedie of Anthonie and Cleopatra” by Mstislav Dobuzhinsky (1875-1957). Ink and ink wash on paper. This lot was acquired in 2005 by the present owner at the third and last auction of works by Dobuzhinsky in Paris, from the estate of his son Rostislaw.

Lot 21
Costume design for a chorister by Alexandre Benois (1881-1962), realised circa 1919-1920.

Worth noticing are also lot 529 and 530, both executed by Erte (1892-1990) and included in the Fine Art collection: Dance le train blue, 1930 and Rose du Mal de Servand, 1940. Pencil and tempera on paper. Provenance: private collection in Italy.

Written by Evgenia Lapshina, Elisa Passaretti, Natasha Cheung.
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