Alexandre Benois, (1870-1960)

Benois was an occasional student at the Academy of Arts, St Petersburg  (1887-1888). In 1894 he graduated from the Faculty of Law, St.Petersburg University. Three years later, while in Versailles, he painted a series of watercolors depicting Last Promenades of Louis XIV. When exhibited by Pavel Tretyakov in 1897, they brought him to attention of Sergei Diaghilev and Leon Bakst. Together they founded the art magazine ĞMir Iskusstvağ which aimed at promoting Art Nouveau in Russia. During the first decade of the new century, Benois continued to edit Mir iskusstva but also pursued his scholarly interests. In 1901, Benois was appointed scenic director of the Mariinsky Theatre. Since then, he devoted most of his time to stage design and decor. Les Sylphides (1909), Giselle (1910), and Petrushka(1911) are counted among his greatest triumphs. Although he worked primarily with Diaghilev for the Ballets Russes, he simultaneously collaborated with the Moscow Art Theatre and other notable theatres of Europe. His Memoirs were published in two volumes in 1955. The Russian painter Zinaida Serebryakova was his niece, and the British actor Sir Peter Ustinov was his grand nephew.