Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Painting of the Day: Tamara Karsavina as Columbine in “Le Carnaval,” 1918

Tamara Karsavina as Columbine
from Mikhail Fokine's "Carnaval"
Adrian Paul Allinson, 1918
Commissioned by Cyril Beaumont
The Victoria & Albert Museum

This painting by Adrian Paul Allinson depicts actress Tamara Karsavina in costume as the Commedia dell’Arte character “Columbine” in Mikhail Fokine's ballet “Carnaval,” which was first performed by the Diaghilev Ballets Russes in 1910.

The role of the Columbine was one of Karsavina's most celebrated.  She was described by ballet specialist Cyril Beaumont as “a Dresden china figure, but she had very human failings. She was a heartless coquette who inspired admiration and then snubbed the fool who thought his affection would be returned.”

The frilly costume set with scalloped edges features a design of red cherries.  It was designed by Leon Bakst.

The painting was once a part of the collection of Cyril Beaumont and it is possible that Beaumont commissioned the portrait from Adrian Allinson around 1918.  At this time, Allinson was working on illustrations from “Carnaval” for the book series “Impressions of the Russian Ballet” which was published by Beaumont.  Beaumont donated the piece to the V&A.

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