The real name of Lev Samoilovich Bakst is Rosenberg. Including for financial reasons, he chose Baxter as his wife, whose father was a successful businessman.
Later, the latter moved to the capital of the Russian Empire in order to expand his enterprise, and his daughter's family moved with him. The daughter, along with her son-in-law, were in full custody of the grandfather of the future great artist.
Leo did not graduate from the 6th St. Petersburg Gymnasium, attended the Academy of Arts for 4 years, but, not seeing the point in further education, stopped attending lectures. The source of income for him was a book illustration.
The surname Bakst, under which the artist became known in Russia and the world, comes from the maiden name of his mother.
The first exhibition of the painter took place in 1889. In 1893-1897 he lived mainly in France, but periodically returned to his homeland.
Then he joined a circle, which later turned into the World of Art association, which published its own magazine. In it, the artist published his works of the graphic genre; they were favorably received by the audience - then real fame came to Bakst.
At that time, the master also proved himself in easel painting, creating many wonderful portraits, among others, Zinaida Gippius and Sergey Diaghilev posed for him.
In 1898, at the exhibition "The First Exhibition of Russian and Finnish Artists", organized by the latter, the works of Leo Samoilovich were presented.
In 1899, Bakst received the hereditary title of honorary Petersburg citizen.
To marry L.P. Tretyakova, in 1903, an artist in Warsaw converted to Lutheranism. For the same purpose, he officially changed the name of Rosenberg to his creative pseudonym, having received permission for this from the emperor.
The marriage with the daughter of the famous Tretyakov did not last long, resumed in 1907, and then broke up again. One of the master’s students was Marc Chagall.
In 1909, in protest against the oppression of the Jews, Bakst defiantly again adopted the Jewish faith, abandoning Christianity. This had dire consequences for him: he was expelled from the capital for Jewry.
Since 1910, he mainly lived in Paris, doing theatrical scenery for Diaghilev's ballet.
The friendship between Bakst and Diaghilev was temporarily interrupted in 1918, but somewhat later, in 1921, resumed. For a long time, the artist devoted his talent to book illustration (he owns illustrations for the magazines "Apollo", "Golden Fleece").
However, most of all the audience remembered the works associated with theatrical scenery for opera and ballet. Despite the unstable relations with Diaghilev, it was precisely the fact that the painter collaborated with him during the Russian seasons abroad that revealed this facet of artistic talent.
Sketches of scenery for the ballets Narcissus, Scheherazade and many others that brought glory to Russia and Russian art abroad were made by Leo Samoilovich.
The artist attached paramount importance to the transfer of the atmosphere of the era. Most of all he was captured by the history of Ancient Greece and the East. It should be noted that the master did not strive for accuracy, he was interested in the spirit of the time, so he often allowed himself liberties, used his rich imagination to create picturesque and slightly fantastic costumes. In order to prepare a sketch, Bakst studied how the dancer moves, and took this into account in his work.
The painter died in 1924 in France, having contracted pulmonary edema.