Portrait of Zinaida Gippius, Lev Samoilovich Bakst – overview

Portrait of Zinaida Gippius, Lev Samoilovich Bakst – overview
Portrait of Zinaida Gippius, Lev Samoilovich Bakst - overview - 1

  • Posted by Lev Samoilovich Bakst
  • Museum: Tretyakov Gallery
  • Year: 1906

Overview of the painting :

Portrait of Zinaida Gippius – Lev Samoilovich Bakst. Mel, pencil, paper, cardboard, sanguine. 54 x 44 cm
   The portrait of the writer and poetess Zinaida Gippius became one of the most outstanding works of Lev Bakst. At first, the picture was only a sketch, but the author so wanted to convey the essence of his model that the work was still completed. Moreover, for the image of incredibly long legs, the poetess Bakst glued a little more paper to the sheet.

   The portrait is made with pencil and sanguine. He depicts Zinaida Nikolaevna lying on a chair in a relaxed and confident position, and stretching out his beautiful legs forward. Due to their diagonal location on the sheet, they seem even longer.

   Baxt also conveyed the sharpness of the face of Gippius: pinched eyes, thin nose and lips – everything gives a mockery, even some contempt for others. On the poetess, a boyish tight-fitting suit, a black velvet jacket, a shirt with a toad – this popular image among adult women is taken from the story of the English writer Bardned about the small Lord Pamplerob.

   Pose, costume, facial expression convey the self-confidence inherent in Gippius, swiftness, even insolence – qualities that men then possessed. Therefore, the audience, seeing the portrait, was stunned by such an obscene picture for the beginning of the 20th century.

   However, for Gippius, such a reaction was not unexpected: while preserving grace and sincerity, she loved to sign her works with masculine names, trying on such costumes – espatage, the desire to impress was not alien to her.

   Lev Samoilovich very accurately transferred these features to paper. Even the artist’s signature in the figure does not follow the canons – it is located not at the bottom right, but in the completely opposite corner.

   Until 1920, the canvas was stored in the collection of composer Sergei Kusevitsky, and is currently located in the Tretyakov Gallery.