The Russian ballerina, Lydia Lopokova was a member of Diaghilev's ballet company the Ballet Russes, and was introduced to Augustus John in the mid-1920s by Diaghilev's chief scene painter, Vladimir Polunin.
The Imperial theatres dominated Russian ballet until 1911, when Diaghilev split to form the Ballet Russes. They left Russia and toured throughout Europe and sometimes America. Lopokova first performed in London in 1918, and it was in London that she met her future husband, the brilliant economist John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946). Keynes was friends with the Bloomsbury Group and because of this she became the model for several artists including Duncan Grant, William Roberts and Pablo Picasso. Keynes acted as an important patron to these artists, for example in a double portrait of Lydia and himself by William Roberts, 'Mr and Mrs J.M. Keynes', circa 1932 (National Portrait Gallery, London).