Set Design for The Merchant of Venice

Alexander Nikolaevich Benois

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Property from a Private Collection, United States Alexander Nikolaevich Benois 1870 - 1960 Set Design for The Merchant of Venice signed in Cyrillic and dated 1920 l.l. watercolour over pencil on paper Sheet: 38.5 by 63cm, 15¼ by 24¾in. Framed: 64.5 by 88cm, 25½ by 34½in. Provenance Acquired by the grandparents of the present owner in Paris in the late 1920s Catalogue Note The present set design relates to the 1920 Bolshoi Drama Theatre production of William Shakespeares The Merchant of Venice, designed and directed by Benois. Founded in 1918, in revolutionary Petrograd at the initiative of Maxim Gorky and Maria Andreeva, the Bolshoi Drama Theatre was conceived as a Soviet theatre of the classical repertoire, focusing on three main genres - tragedy, romantic drama and Commedia dellarte, all of which later became classics of the Soviet theatre. Benois joined the theatre as a director and stage designer in October 1919, gradually turning it into an outpost of the World of Art movement.