Artist: Leon Bakst
Dimensions: 2' x 3' feet
Location: W. Dale Clark, Administrative Offices
Willa is relaxing on the 4th Floor!
The 1923 portrait by Leon Bakst of Nebraska author, Willa Cather, depicts her in a white dress and
pink sash, seated in a sunroom. She appears perfectly at home in this setting as well as the Nebraska
Leon Bakst was born on May 10, 1866 in Grodno, Belarus, to a middle class Jewish family. He was
educated in St. Petersburg, Russia, at the Academy of Arts.
1898 saw the beginning of the World of Art (Mir Iskusstva) group with Alexandre Benois and Serge Diaghilev.
Bakst is perhaps most famous for his stage designs with Diaghilev's Ballet Russes. He created more
stage sets for Dialghiev from 1909-1921 than any other artist. Leon Bakst moved permanently to Paris
in 1912. As a Jew, he was unable to get a residency permit in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Bakst was probably the most versatile artist in the World of Art group. In mid-career he was able
to make stylistic changes. Leon Bakst's portraits are renowned for their relaxed poses and animated
Leon Bakst died in Paris on December 27, 1924.
(L. Sullivan, September 2005)