Alexander Benois – Russian artist
Alexander Benois was a Russian artist, art historian, art critic, founder and chief ideologue of the World of Art. As a talented artist, a populariser of art and organizer of many exhibitions, as a museum worker and an active figure in the world of theatre and cinema, Benois made an enormous contribution to the history of twentieth-century Russian art.
Alexander was born on April 21 (May 3), 1870 in St. Petersburg into a family of Russian architect Nikolai Leontyevich Benois and Camilla Albertovna Benois (the daughter of the architect A. K. Cavos).
For a while Alexander studied at the Academy of Fine Arts. In 1894 he graduated from St. Petersburg State University. In the same year he began his career as a theorist and art historian, wrote a chapter about the Russian artists for the German book “History of the painting of the XIX century”. In 1896-1898 and 1905-1907 he worked in France.
Benois became one of the founders and ideologists of artistic association World of Art, and founded the eponymous magazine.
In 1916-1918 the artist created illustrations for the Alexander Pushkin’s poem The Bronze Horseman.
In 1918, Benois headed the Hermitage Art Gallery, published its new catalog. He continued to work as a book and theater artist and director.
In 1925 he took part in the International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts in Paris.
At first he worked with Konstantin Stanislavsky, and after the 1917 Revolution, he collaborated with Maxim Gorky in organizing the Leningrad Bolshoi Drama Theatre. His scenery for The Marriage of Figaro, staged in 1926, was Benois’ last work in the Soviet Union.
In 1926 Benois left the USSR. He lived in Paris, working mainly on the scenic sketches and costumes, played a significant role in the productions of Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. In Paris, he painted his celebrated Versailles Series, which depicted the beautiful parks and walks of the Sun King (Louis XIV).
Alexander had son Nikolai, daughters Yelena and Anna.
Benois died on February 9, 1960 in Paris.