Our Notes & References
Beautiful art-deco interpretations of Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, seen here through the combined geniuses of Barbier and Nijinsky, in the early and most successful years of Diaghilev’s entreprise. A fine example, uncommon in such a lovely condition.
This is the first French edition, from the same press and following the same format. This edition is limited to 390 copies, this one being no. 68 (out of 340 on vellum paper).
Nijinsky is shown here in the ballets Scheherazade, Carnaval and l’Après-midi d’un Faune. “The designs, although somewhat fantastic in treatment, do convey the impression produced by Nijinsky in his famous characters. The foreword [by Francis de Miomandre] is excellent” (Beaumont).
“In his brief time, Nijinsky was the most famous male dancer in the world, a pre-eminence due in part to his extraordinary virtuosity. But it was not his virtuosity alone that made him such a powerful stage presence. As contemporary reports make clear, Nijinsky was a great and unusual actor. The ideal Fokine interpreter, he was able to expand a simple choreographic design into a rich dramatic portrait, using, in keeping with Fokine’s dicta, the whole body as an expressive instrument. Nijinsky’s influence as a dancer was immediate and huge. That ballet, nearly extinguished artistically in western Europe, was revived in this century is due to him and great dancers of his generation, such as Anna Pavlova and Karsavina, as well as to Diaghilev. That male ballet, utterly extinguished, was also revived is due to him preeminently. Nijinsky was the first real ballet star of the male sex that Europe had seen since the retirement of Auguste Vestris nearly a century earlier. He initiated a renaissance.” (Cohen).
Beaumont, A Bibliography of Dancing, p.6; Carteret, Livres illustrés modernes, IV, p.58; Cohen, The International Encyclopedia of Dance, IV, pp. 646-648.