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Kenneth Archer

[Rosenberg, Lev (Samoylovich)]

(b Grodno, Belarus, May 10, 1866; d Paris, Dec 27, 1924).

Russian painter and stage designer of Belorussian birth. Born into a middle-class Jewish family, Bakst was educated in St Petersburg, attending a gymnasium and then the Academy of Arts (1883–6). He began professional life as a copyist and illustrator of teaching materials but quickly moved on to illustration for popular magazines. His tastes were influenced and horizons enlarged when he met Alexandre Benois and his circle in 1890. Bakst travelled regularly to various countries in Europe and North Africa and studied in Paris with a number of notable artists including the French Orientalist painter Jean-Léon Gérôme at the Académie Julian and, from 1893 to 1896, the Finnish landscape painter Albert Edelfelt. Returning to St Petersburg, he became active as a book designer and fashionable portrait painter. With Benois and Serge Diaghilev he was a founder and leading member of the World of Art (Mir Iskusstva) group in 1898...