Benois Alexandre

Untitled paper, ink, 1889
signature (Українська) Бенуа А.Н.

Benoit Alexander Nikolaevich (1870-1960) – Russian artist and art critic, artist, art critic, theater figure. Born in the family of architect Nikolai Leontyevich Benoit, known for her artistic talents. The situation in the house, the environment surrounding Alexander Nikolaevich, contributed to his artistic development. Since childhood, he fell in love with “old Petersburg”, the suburbs of the capital. Soon the love for the scene arose in him, he kept it for life. Alexandre Benois was gifted with exceptional musicality, had a rare visual memory. The works created by him in old age, “drawings-memories”, indicate the amazing persistence and strength of his life perception.

In 1885 – 1890 he studied at the gymnasium K.I. May and attended classes at the Academy of Arts. In 1894 he graduated from the Law Faculty of St. Petersburg University. He first presented watercolors at the 1893 exhibition and managed to attract attention. With special love, he studied the life and art of the 18th century in France and Russia and painted a number of paintings from this era. At the end of 1896, together with friends, Alexander Benois first came to Paris and fell in love with this city; here he created the famous Versailles Series, depicting the beauty of the parks and the walk of the “Sun King” (Louis XIV). Well versed in the events of the past, Benoit was able to see through the eyes of a man of the XX century. An example of this is the painting “Parade under Paul I”, which shows a subtle knowledge of history, costumes, architecture, everyday life and at the same time one feels a touch of humor, almost satire. “No matter what rubbish modern art bisographers may say about me, about my” aesthetics “, my sympathies have attracted and now attract me to the simplest and most faithful depictions of reality,” Benoit said.

In 1897, Benoit became famous for his series of watercolors, “The Last Walks of Louis XIV,” inspired by his stay in Paris and Versailles. Three paintings from this exhibition were acquired by P.M. Tretyakov. In 1898, Benoit organized a circle of like-minded people who did not accept the tendentiousness of the Wanderers and dreamed of a new art. Since 1898 they began to publish the magazine “World of Art”, which also referred to their association, known for its refined decorativeness, stylization and combination of poetics of symbolism and old art. Advocating for old Russian artists and Western European painting, Benoit in 1901 began publishing the magazine “Artistic Treasures of Russia” and “Old Years”.

In 1916-17. Benoit created a series of illustrations for The Bronze Horseman, one of the masterpieces of Russian book graphics.

In 1918, Benoit headed the Hermitage Art Gallery, published its new catalog. He continued his work as a book and theater artist and director, in particular, he worked on the production and design of the performances of the Petrograd Bolshoi Drama Theater. In 1925 he took part in the International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts in Paris.

In 1926, A.N. Benois left the USSR. He lived in Paris, where he worked on sketches of theatrical scenery and costumes. Participated in the ballet entreprise S. Diaghilev “Ballets Russes” as an artist and production designer.

In recent years, he worked on extensive memoirs.

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