Born in St. Petersburg, Bakst attended St. Petersburg Academy of Arts from 1883 to 1887 where he met Aleksandr Benois. Along with Benois, Bakst was one of the co-founders of the World of Art group (Mir Iskusstva).
In 1909, Bakst moved to Paris, where he joined Sergei Diaghilev, who was organizing the Ballets Russes.
The vibrant colours and exotic decors animated by line suggesting free flowing movement as seen in "Schhrazade", "Le Dieu Bleu" and "Cleopatre" became his trademark and influenced a generation of younger designers for the stage, in fashion and interior design.
"Le Dieu Bleu" conceived in the vein of Schhrazade as a vehicle for Nijinsky, was planned in 1910 to be presented in Paris during the 1911 season but Diaghilev was forced to postpone it until 1912.
Based on a Hindu legend, "Le Dieu Bleu" was written by Jean Cocteau and Fredric de Madrazo and the choreography was by Michael Fokine. It was first performed at thtre du Chtelet, Paris, May 13, 1912. The ballet is set in the shrine of the Hindu/Buddhist god.
Bakst's final decor, which shows the temple precinct as a small pool surrounded by cliffs covered with sculpture and foliage, was apparently derived from his painting "Siamese Dancers", executed in 1901 and inspired by the visit of the Siamese Ballet troupe to St. Petersburg in 1900.
This painting was perhaps his first exposure to the exoticism of the East that laid the foundations for Bakst's later poetic interpretations of the East in such ballets as "Le Dieu Bleu".
The Muse national d'Art Moderne in Paris has a small version of the above design in watercolour on paper. Such large designs on canvas by Bakst are extremely rare nowadays on the market.