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Willa Cather Portrait

Willa Cather Portrait

Willia Cather PortraitArtist: Leon Bakst
Dimensions: 2' x 3' feet
Location: W. Dale Clark, Administrative Offices
Installed: 1977

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 prairie.

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 line.

Leon Bakst died in Paris on December 27, 1924.

(L. Sullivan, September 2005)


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