Bakst, Léon

BORN 10 May 1866, Grodno - DIED 27 Dec 1924, Malmaison, Hauts-de-Seine
BIRTH NAME Rosenberg, Léon Samoilovitch
CAUSE OF DEATH lung edema
GRAVE LOCATION Paris: Cimetière des Batignolles, 8 rue Saint-Just (division 25, ligne 21, numero 24)

Léon Bakst was born as Leyb-Khaim Rosenberg into a Jewish family in Grodno. When he was twelve he won a drawing contest but his parents disapproved of his painting ambitions. After his parents divorced he lived with two sisters and a brother. `He worked as a book illustrator and he studied at the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts. In 1883 he was admitted to the Imperial Academy. He first exhibited in 1889 under the name Bakst. From 1893 to 1897 he lived in Paris and he studied at the Académie Julian. He was also taught by the Finnish painter Albert Edelfelt. He often visited Saint Petersburg. In Paris he joined the circle around Sergei Diaghilev and Alexandre Benois.

In 1898 his work was shown at the First Exhibition of Russian and Finnish Artists that was organised by Diaghilev. He also exhibited at the Secession in Munich. In 1901 he painted his first theatrical set for Sergei Diaghilev's production of "Sylvia" by Delibes. From 1909 onwards he created many scenery painting for Diaghilev's new ballet company Ballets Russes. In 1913 he produced a series of panels known as the Sleeping Beauty series for James and Dorothy de Rothschild at Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire.

When he visited Saint Petersburg he often worked as a teacher at Elizaveta Zvantseva's art school and Marc Chagall was one of his favourite students, although they fell out in 1910 after Bakst advised Chagall not to go to Paris. Chagall ignored his advice and became a far more famous painter then Bakst. In 1912 Bakst settled permanently in Paris and in 1914 he was elected into the Imperial Academy of Arts. After the Russian Revolution of 1917 his sister died from hunger and this resulted in a nervous breakdown for Bakst. At this time his servant Linda stole his money. His patron Alice Warder Garrett (1877-1952) came to his rescue.

In 1922 Bakst ended his cooperation with the Ballets Russes. He visited Alice Garrett in Baltimor, who was now his representatieve in the USA. In 1924 he died in a clinic in Malmaison of lung edema.

Related persons
• was a friend of Barsacq, André
• cooperated with Diaghilev, Sergei
• painted Diaghilev, Sergei
• painted Zátková, Ruzena


The grave of Léon Bakst and André Barsacq at the Cimetière des Batignolles, Paris.
Picture by Androom (02 Nov 2017)


Léon Bakst - Wikipedia
Léon Bakst (January 27, 1866 — December 28, 1924), Russian painter, scene designer, costume designer | World Biographical Encyclopedia

Balajthy,  Robert

Published: 30 Jan 2022
Last update: 31 Jan 2022