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Print coloured by hand - The Good-Humoured Ladies

The Good-Humoured Ladies

  • Object:

    Print coloured by hand

  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (probably, printed)

  • Date:

    second half 1920s (Published)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Allinson, Adrian Paul (R.O.I., R.B.A.), born 1890 - died 1959 (Artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Print on paper

  • Credit Line:

    Cyril W Beaumont Bequest

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Physical description

Against a night sky, in an Italian town square, men and women wearing 18th century costume, stand in stylized poses to the left of a bald-headed female figure sitting on the ground, flanked by two masked and cloaked figures; to the right a male figure in dressing gown holds aloft a chair, his right arm held by a girl who is attempting to restrain him from beating the man clutching his waist.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (probably, printed)


second half 1920s (Published)


Allinson, Adrian Paul (R.O.I., R.B.A.), born 1890 - died 1959 (Artist)

Materials and Techniques

Print on paper

Marks and inscriptions

Extensive colour references and indications to relevant areas.
Textual information; Margins; Handwriting; Pen and ink; Beaumont, Cyril


Height: 317 mm, Width: 344 mm

Object history note

The print depicts the final moments of Leonide Massine's ballet The Good Humoured Ladies (Les Femmes de bonne humeur), based on the play by Goldoni, designed by Leon Bakst to music by Scarlatti, produced by the Diaghilev Ballets Russes in 1917.
The young people, aided by the maid Mariuccia, have duped the foolish old Marquise Silvestra into believing that the waiter Niccolo is a Prince who wishes to marry her. The trick is revealed and the ensuing noise wakes the Marquis de Silvestra, who sets about with his stick, knocking off the Marquise wig and revealing her baldness, while he beats Niccolo and Mariuccia tries to restrain him.
The print is annotated by Beaumont as a colour reference guide for the hand colourists. S.486-2000 shows the print uncoloured, S.485-2000 part coloured and S.483-2000 coloured.
By the mid 1920s, there was an increasing interest in the Diaghilev Ballet and material relating to dance in general. Beaumont had already produced a series of booklets on individual Diaghilev Ballets under the series title Impressions of the Russian Ballet and a number of wooden cut-out Diaghilev dancers in their famous roles. He now decided to produce a series of hand coloured prints of typical scenes from the Diaghilev Ballet repertory. He kept no records of when he began publishing the prints nor how many were produced, although he reckoned about twenty, mostly the work of Adrian Allinson, Ethelbert White and Randolf Schwabe who had also worked on Impressions of the Russian Ballet booklets and the wooden figures, and Eileen Mayo.
In all these works, Beaumont strove to capture the exact moments of the ballet as well as artists' interpretations. Possibly the design of each print followed the painstaking search for accuracy that had characterised the creation of the illustrations for Impressions of the Russian Ballet series, described in Bookseller at the Ballet - choosing the significant moment, watching the ballet night after night to check details of the poses and grouping (not easy when the stage was full of individual dancers and movement), going backstage to sketch scenery and borrow costumes - although some prints appear to be 'composite' rather than specific tableaux.
Most of the hand-colouring for Impressions of the Russian Ballet booklets was the work of Beaumont and his wife, Alice, and it is possible that both were also involved in colouring the prints, although eventually other artists were employed on both projects. The print is annotated by Beaumont with detailed colour-mixing instructions, mostly relating to the scenery, for the hand colourists.

Historical significance: Les Femmes de bonne humeur was Massine's third ballet and an undisputed masterpiece. As a comedy of manners, it marked a new departure for the Diaghilev Ballets Russes, and, being based on Goldoni's play Le Donne di Buon Umore and using music by Scarlatti, it was at once a tribute to Italy, where it was premiered in 1917, and an indication of Diaghilev's increasing break with Russia and his 'Europeanisation' in turning to European sources as inspiration for his company's repertory.

Descriptive line

Final scene from Leonide Massine's ballet The Good-Humoured Ladies (Les Femmes de bonne humeur), Proof with colour annotations, Diaghilev Ballets Russes, 1917

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Beaumont, Cyril, Bookseller at the Ballet, Memoirs 1891-1929: London, C. W. Beaumont, London, 1975. 426p., ill. Z325.B35


Printing ink; Paper




Entertainment & Leisure; Dance; Prints

Production Type



Theatre and Performance Collection

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