Alexander Nikolaevich Benois was not only one of the gifted artists of the 20th century, but also a creatively versatile person. He is an active actor in theater and cinema, decorator, art critic, author of literary works on art, organizer of exhibitions for artists, stage designer, publisher. The list of his studies can be continued and continued.
And, perhaps, his life, to some extent, was predetermined by the fact that he was born in an intelligent, educated, creative family.
In the spring of May 3, 1870 in St. Petersburg, the boy Alexander was born in the family of a professor of architecture. It’s also worth saying a few words about Sasha’s father and grandfather so that the environment in which the boy grew up was brought up.
Father - Nikolai Leontyevich Benois, from the French Benois family, was the main architect of Peterhof. Maternal grandfather - Albert Katerinovich Kavos, architect and builder of the Mariinsky and the Bolshoi theaters.
Nature also gifted Alexander with excellent musical abilities and amazing visual memory, which he retained until his very advanced age.
By 1890, he was finishing his studies at a private gymnasium, while devoting a lot of time to art. On this basis, he agrees with the progressive youth of that time, who subsequently will become his associates in the creation of an art society and the magazine of the same name - “World of Art”. The famous Sergey Pavlovich Diaghilev becomes one of his friends.
Having entered the Imperial Academy of Art, Alexander studied quite a bit and left it, believing that you can become a real painter only if you work hard and continuously. And, indeed, his performance was surprised by contemporaries and friends. In one day, he could draw an album of sketches, participate in the performance of theatrical scenery, write an article for the magazine and several letters, work in the workshop.
In 1894, he graduated from St. Petersburg University, studying for a lawyer. Marries the daughter of musician K.I. Kind - Anna. And in the same year begins his literary work, as a historian and theorist of art. A year earlier, he exhibited his paintings at an exhibition where he has attention and success.
The year 1896 was marked by his trip to France and the famous cycle of paintings about the parks and palaces of Versailles. In 1897 - a series of watercolor works about King Louis XIV - and as a result, several paintings were acquired by Russian philanthropist Pavel Mikhailovich Tretyakov.
For three years, Alexander Benois lives and works in Paris. He is delighted and impressed by France, by Versailles - this harmony of man, nature and art.
Returning to Russia, Alexander Benois in 1901 reveals himself as a publisher, issuing magazines about art, as well as an art critic, becoming subsequently one of the most respected critics of the early 20th century in this area.
1903 - Alexandre Benois as an illustrator, creates a masterpiece in the field of book graphics - drawings for the Pushkin poem about the Bronze Horseman. 1904 - the creation of the famous "ABC in Pictures". Since 1905, he creates 37 more illustrations, which were released by the book in 1923.
1908-1911 - Benoit is the artistic director of the famous "Diaghilev" theater entreprise "Russian Seasons". Also in 1911, his illustrations for The Queen of Spades came out. In 1919, being the head of the Hermitage art gallery, he created a new catalog of works.
From 1922 to 1925, Benoit worked actively in the Bolshoi Drama Theater of Petrograd both as a director and artist. Releases album with watercolors "Versailles". Participates in international exhibitions.
In 1926, at the age of 56, he left Russia and went to live in Paris. His main activities are related to the Diaghilev Theater and the La Scala Opera House in Milan.
From 1927 to February 1960, until the day of his death, Alexander Nikolaevich continued to amaze with his performance. He produces illustrations for books by Russian and French writers, writes watercolor paintings, publishes his memoirs and memoirs.