Style: Impressionist, Illustrations
Background: Alexandre Nikolayevich Benois was born on 3 May 1870 in St. Petersburg. Benois was an influential artist, art critic, historian, preservationist, and founding member of Mir iskusstva (World of Art), an art movement and magazine. As a designer for the Ballets Russes under Serge Diaghliev, Benois’s influence on the modern ballet and stage design is considered seminal.
Education: Alexandre was born into the artistic and intellectual Benois family, prominent members of the 19th and early 20th-century Russian intelligentsia. His father was Nicolas Benois, a noted Russian architect. His brothers included Albert Benois and brother Leaon; the latter also became a notable architect. Not planning a career in the arts, Alexandre graduated from the Faculty of Law, Saint Petersburg Imperial University, in 1894.
Achievements: Three years later while in Versailles, Benois painted a series of watercolors depicting Last Promenades of Louis XIV. When exhibited by Pavel Tretyakov in 1897, they brought him to attention of Sergei Diaghilev and the artist Leon Bakst. Together the three men founded the art magazine and movement Mir iskusstva (World of Art), which promoted the Aesthetic Movement and Art Nouveau in Russia.
In 1901, Benois was appointed scenic director of the Marjinsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg, the performance space for the Imperial Russian Ballet. He moved to Paris in 1905, and after that, devoted most of his time to stage design and decor.
During these years, his work with the Ballets Russes, founded by Diaghilev, was groundbreaking. . Although Benois worked primarily with the Ballets Russes, he also collaborated with the Moscow Art Theatre and other notable theatres of Europe.