L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e ~ D o s t o ï e v s k i

L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e  ~  D o s t o ï e v s k i

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Karsavina and Nijinsky - portraits in costume by Jacques-Émile Blanche

Tamara Karsavina in the costume worn as the title role in The Firebird (L'Oiseau de feu), 1910.
Bakst's original design for the role of the Firebird, 1910.
Four studio portraits of Karsavina in the role of the Firebird.

Vaslav Nijinsky in costume for la danse siamoise from Les Orientales, 1910. The costume is also by Bakst.
Two sketches of Nijinsky by Blanche.
Nijinsky posing in the painter's studio, photographed by Blanche.
Four photographs by Eugène Druet, taken in Blanche's garden in Passy.


Jacques-Émile Blanche (1 January 1861, Paris – 20 September 1942, Offranville), French painter. The son of a successful and fashionable Parisian psychiatrist, he was brought up in the affluent Passy neighborhood in a house that had once belonged to the Princesse de Lamballe. The product of a cultured upbringing, he became a well-known figure in artistic and society circles. Although he received some instruction from the decidedly second-rate artists Henri Gervex and Ferdinand Humbert, he can be considered, for all intents and purposes, self-taught as a painter. But he became a very popular and prolific portrait painter, and showed very successfully in both France and England, winning important prizes; he was eventually to be made a Commandeur de la Légion d’Honneur. He had strong connections with England and English society, and was a prominent figure in the Arts community there as well.

With his wide-ranging artistic and literary connections he came to portray most of the important artists and writers of his day, and his best-known works are dashing portraits of those in that milieu. He could count Degas and Whistler, Beardsley and Sargent, Proust, Henry James, Gide, and Cocteau among his friends; as with several of those just mentioned, many of his intimates were homosexual, though I've yet to read anything that infers that he was, himself. He became a respected art critic and was a great supporter of the new avant-garde movements - like Cubism and Surrealism - that sprung up during his later years. He was also the author of two volumes of reminiscences considered, at best, "unreliable". He spent much time at his home in Offranville, near Dieppe in Normandy, where he would die during World War II at the age of eighty-one.

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