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Portrait of Benois (1898)

Leon Bakst (1866-1924) began his career as a kind of junior associate of the Wanderers. By the 1890s, however, under the influence of modern French painting, he abandoned that aesthetic. A trip to North Africa in 1897 opened the exotic world of the Mideast to him, and he scored his greatest success as a designer of opulent orientalist costumes and sets for Diaghilev's Ballets Russes, most famously "Schéhérazade" (1910). He was also the designer for many of the Ballets Russes most famous ballets on classical themes, including "Daphnis and Chloë", and Nijinsky's notorious "Afternoon of a Fawn". After the Revolution, Bakst remained in Europe. In the late 1890s, he was one of the leading members of the so-called World of Art group, that formed around the artist Alexandre Benois (1870-1960), depicted in this 1898 portrait. The painting itself, by the way, shows Bakst's connection with the wanderer aesthetic (compare to the portrait of Turgenev by Perov).

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