Nikolai Aleksandrovich Benois -- theatre designer, painter, graphic artist. Born in Orienbaum near St. Petersburg in 1901, Nicola was the son and follower of the famous painter and theatre designer, founder and the leading member of the group Mir Iskusstva (World of Art), 1898, Aleksandr Benois (1870-1960). In this work, Nikolai followed the steps of his famous father, who was artistic director of Ballets Russes, and extensively contributed to stage design mainly in France and Italy.
In 1924 Nikolai Benois emigrated to Paris, where he worked mainly with the leading dancer Ida Rubinshtein, and as a resident-designer for the Franco-Russian ballet company La Chauve-Souris. In later days he settled in Milan, where he closely worked with La Scala and Royal Theatre in Rome until the 1960s.
The lot presented is a stage design from the opera Oberon (or: The Elf's king oath., 1926) by Carl Maria von Weber (1944) for La Scala, Milan. Act II, scene 1a: At the Caliph's Palace.
This gouache sketch projects an illusionistic oriental atmosphere that suits the plot of Oberon. Oberon, the Elfin King, having quarrelled with his fairy partner, can never reconcile until he finds two lovers constant to each other under all circumstances. Puck ranges the world in quest of them. The two lovers are Sir Huon, a young knight of Bordeaux, and Reiza, daughter of the Caliph of Bagdad. The story relates their trials and temptations, through all of which they remain constant, thereby securing forgiveness of Oberon.
The painter and his father made an invaluable contribution to the theater design in Europe and were appreciated all over the world.