Inventory
Alexander Benois (1870-1960)
Set design for The Wedding of Psyche and Amour
1928

Alexander Benois (1870-1960)
Set design for The Wedding of Psyche and Amour
1928

signed twice, inscribed with production details and dated twice 'Alexandre Benois 1928'
watercolour and ink on paper laid on card
46 х 64 cm

Provenance
Descendants of the artist
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The Marriage of Psyche and Amour was first performed at the Opera de Paris in 1928. Some of the greatest artists of the time came together to bring this legendary love story to life with sets and costume designs by Alexander Benois. Johann Sebastian Bach’s original score was adapted by Arthur Honneger, the choreography was conceived by Leonid Massine and Bronislava Nizhinskaya. The role of Psyche was played by the iconic dancer and company director Ida Rubinstein. Rubinstein collaborated successfully with Benois for several ballets such as Le Baiser de la Fee and Maurice Ravel's Bolero.

The Marriage of Psyche and Amour, or Cupid as he is more widely known, is a ballet based on the love story and eventual marriage between earthly beauty Psyche and the God of Love. The performances were given at L’Opera de Paris in 1928 with music by Johann Sebastian Bach adapted by Arthur Honneger specifically. The choreography was provided by Bronislava Nizhinskaya and Leonid Massine.

Psyche was played by the legendary ballerina, company director and icon of the Belle Epoque, Ida Rubinstein. She and Benois worked together on a number of ballets for her company including Le Baiser de la Fee, David, Nocturne and La Princesse Cygne. Benois was particularly proud of his work with Rubinstein and took a great deal of credit for their success. In a letter to Mir Isskustva he wrote ‘the ballets with music by Bach, Honneger, Schubert, Liszt, Milhaud, Tchaikovsky and Stravinsky, Borodin and Cherepnin were entirely staged following my initiative and my drawings’ (A.Benois, Alexandre Benois Contemplates, 'Letter from 25 January 1929', Moscow, 1968, p.635).

Benois decorates his set design with the elegant figures of the wedding party which includes Olympian gods Neptune, Mars and Minerva. The guests look on as performers arrive through the glorious Rococo baldachin to greet the bride and groom, who sit enthroned in equally magnificent structures.