The present work belonged to Serge Lifar (1905-1986), a leading dancer and choregrapher and a key Russian-French proponent of modern dance. Born in Kiev, Lifar came to France with the Ballet Russes in 1923. Soon he became one of Serge Diaghilev 'favourites' (joining the long, distinguised list of dancer-lovers, including Vaslav Nijinsky and Léonide Massine). He was promoted to premier danceur in the ballet company, performing as Apollo in Balanchine's seminal ballet Apollo musagàete (1928) and in the title role of Balanchine's The Prodigal Son (1929).
Under the influence of Stravinsky, Balanchine and Diaghilev, Lifar became a choreographer creating avant-garde ballets. His most remembered works are Renard (1929), Icare (1935), and Phédre. In 1929, Lifar became director of the Paris Opéra Ballet, where he remained until 1957.