What is this?
Two figures standing, facing frontally, side by side. Each is dressed in elaborately patterned garb and has his right hand resting on his hip while the left hand holds a tall bow.
Why is this in our collection?
The energetic tension of these dangerous looking brigands, their exotic appeal and wildly patterned textiles are all signature traits of work by the great costume and stage set designer Léon Bakst. The Jewish Russian artist began designing for the legendary Ballets Russes in 1909, at the age of 43. The dance company amazed audiences with its radical choreography, inventive music and extraordinary sets and costumes. Bakst rejected the stifling tradition of dressing dancers in pink tights and satin ballet shoes or heavily ornamented costumes. Instead, his designs used flowing textiles that were intended to accentuate the movements of the performers and extending their gestures into space. Bakst’s drawings nearly always depict the models in sensuous motion rather than in static poses. Drawings after his costumes circulated, and became tremendously influential on fashion and textile design. Bakst had several of his designs for the ballet copyrighted in 1913.The design for two pirate costumes was made for the classical themed ballet Daphnis etChloé, a love story between a shepherd and shepherdess, first performed by the Ballets Russes in Paris, 1912.