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Figure - Wooden figure showing Serge Lifar
  • Wooden figure showing Serge Lifar
    C W Beaumont & Co
  • Enlarge image

Wooden figure showing Serge Lifar

  • Object:

    Figure

  • Place of origin:

    Europe (made)

  • Date:

    1920s (Made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    C W Beaumont & Co (Publisher)
    Aldon Studios (Maker)

  • Credit Line:

    Cyril W Beaumont Bequest

  • Museum number:

    S.953:2-1982

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Place of Origin

Europe (made)

Date

1920s (Made)

Artist/maker

C W Beaumont & Co (Publisher)
Aldon Studios (Maker)

Object history note

The figure represents Serge Lifar as the Youth in George Balanchine's ballet "La Chatte" permiered by the Diaghilev Ballets Russes in 1927 with designs by Gabo and Pevsner. It was made by the Aldon Studios for the dance historian, bookseller and publisher, Cyril Beaumont, for sale in his shop at 75, Charing Cross Road. Lifar created the role of the Youth and noone else ever danced the role.
Beaumont had admired Caran d'Ache's satirical wood carvings of political personalities, and, about 1914, he conceived the idea of two-dimensional wooden figures of principal dancers of the Diaghilev Ballets Russes. The figures represented the dancers in costume in a typical pose from the chosen work; they were cut out from two-ply wood, hand painted and mounted on detachable stands. Each design was limited to fifty copies, originally hand-coloured by the artist and issued at 7s 6d. They sold steadily. Adrian Allinson designed nineteen figures in all and after the War, Beaumont turned to other artists and commissioned a separate artist to execute the colouring.
S.953:1/2-1982 is included in The Complete Catalogue of the Publications of C. W. Beaumont, 1928, which lists 49 figures; examples of 30 of these came to the Museum as part of the Cyril Beaumont Bequest plus 10 not in the 1928 catalogue.
The 1928 catalogue included the following description of the cut-outs (p.25):
"These figures of celebrated dancers of the Diaghileff Ballet have been issued with a view to supply the demand for something between a photograph and a statuette - something that would preserve the memory of a dancer as she appeared in a particular ballet. Each figure is based on drawings made from sittings given by the dancer herself, and from sketches made during an actual performance. The designs are by the following artists: Adrian Allinson, Eileen Mayo, Vera Willoughby, also working under the name of Vera Petrovna, Randolph Schwabe and Ethelbert White. The figures, which are of wood, average 8 3/4 inches high, and are hand-coloured with special care to ensure accuracy of costume. The black stands on whcih the figures are mounted are easily removable to afford facility in packing. The figures are priced at 7s. 6d. net."
The figure was originally numbered as S.953-1982 and the number was amended in 2001 to include the detachable base.

Historical significance: The existence of such figures are a testimony to the popularity of the Diaghilev Ballets Russes in London, and a growing 'popular' audience who demanded memorabilia and souvenirs. As the only specialist bookseller and publisher in London, and with access to the dancers and company, Beaumont was quick to identify the market and he commissioned the figures, prints and illustrated books to fulful the demand.

Descriptive line

Plywood figure representing representing Serge Lifar as the Youth in George Balanchine's ballet La Chatte, issued by C W Beaumont, 1920s. Wood and gouache.

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

Beaumont, Cyril, A Bookseller at the Ballet, C. W. Beaumont, London, 1975.
The Complete Catalogue of the Publications of C. W. Beaumont, C. W. Beaumont, London, 1928

Categories

Entertainment & Leisure; Dance; Figures

Production Type

Limited edition

Collection

Theatre and Performance Collection

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