In search of Pavlova…

Over the last 12 days I have been exploring Scotland by train (and ferry and occasionally bus and even taxi!) – it was brilliant adventure. When I was in Glasgow I went to the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. It was here that I was able to see this wonderful painting of Anna Pavlova in The Bacchanale by Sir John Lavery.

Lavery, b.1856 – d.1941, was born in Belfast. He was sent to Scotland in 1866 and would go on to establish his career in Glasgow.

I found Pavlova in Glasgow!

Lavery moved to London in 1896 and soon became a sought-after portraitist. He painted Anna Pavlova several times across 1910 and 1911.

Lavery was commissioned by The London Illustrated News, in 1910, to paint a head and shoulder sketch of Pavlova. The image appeared in the paper on the 22nd of April, 1911, p. 17 – ‘Anna Pavlova – The great Russian dance, by John Lavery – Specially painted from life for The London Illustrated News.’ Pavlova posed regularly for him during her stay in London in 1910 and Lavery painted two full-length portraits of Pavlova in The Bacchanale, one of which is as Kelvingrove.

The painting of Pavlova at Kelvingrove – it captures a wonderful sense of movement!
Sir John Lavery [Irish painter, 1856-1941]
Lavery’s second portrait of Pavlova.
Lavery’s head and shoulder portrait of Pavlova , commissioned by The Illustrated London News.

On Pavlova’s return to London in 1911 she posed again – this time Pavlova’s famed solo The Dying Swan formed the focus. Interestingly the painting was completed using Lavery’s wife Hazel as the model. The Tate cites that ‘although there were clear differences between the two women, Lavery believed that, in stage makeup, Hazel could easily pass for the dancer.’

Le Mort du Cygne: Anna Pavlova 1911 by Sir John Lavery 1856-1941
The painting of Pavlova at The Tate.
Hazel Lavery – you can see some similarities to Anna Pavlova.
Anna Pavlova dressed in her swan costume by the pond at Ivy House. Museum of London.

Whilst this portrait is beautiful it is certainly does not emulate Pavlova and her dancing as well as The Bacchanale at Kelvingrove. The Tate mistakenly cites this portrait as showing Pavlova in the ballet Swan Lake and not the divertissement Le Mort du Cygne aka The Dying Swan. The Tate wrongly suggests that the lake in the background is the ‘swan lake’ and that Pavlova’s pose is not from the ballet. The scene to me looks like it may be by the pond at Ivy House (Keith Money supports this) – Pavlova often posed in her swan costume by this pond. The pose is reflective of the final moments of The Dying Swan. 

A second portrait is held at the V&A. Another study of Pavlova in The Dying Swan was sold for £158,500, at Christie’s in 2014.

Portrait at the V&A.
Portrait sold at Christie’s in 2014.

Pavlova at The Savoy once more…

Last weekend I was involved in a wonderful event at The Savoy as part of this year’s Russian Ballet Icons Gala. This year’s gala focused of the legacy of The Ballets  Russes and consisted of a star studded gala at The Coliseum Theatre followed by a dinner at The Savoy.

I was asked by Giberg London to create a display inspired by Anna Pavlova for the pre-dinner drinks reception. Swiss silversmiths, Giberg, have created a wonderful range of jewellery, watches and objet d’art inspired by Anna Pavlova and they wanted this inspiration to be present in the display. For this event a replica of Pavlova’s Dying Swan costume took pride of place. I also had three dancers dressed as Pavlova (each costume was inspired by a different photograph of the ballerina) moving throughout the room.

I traced this wonderful picture of Pavlova performing at the annual fancy dress ball in 1912. The painting, by A.C. Michael, appeared in the Illustrated London News on the 1st of June 1912.

The Savoy was allegedly where Serge Diaghilev preferred to stay when in London and the Savoy Grill was apparently his favourite eatery. Anna Pavlova herself performed there several times at the annual fancy dress ball in aid of Middlesex Hospital. In 1911 Pavlova won second prize in the best lady’s costume competition dressed in her Russian dance costume.

Giberg event Savoy (7)
Ursula Hageli’s stunning reconstruction of The Dying Swan tutu took pride of place.


Giberg event Savoy (11)
The three ladies portraying Anna Pavlova looked gorgeous in vintage costumes.
Giberg event Savoy (13)
Thank-you to the wonderful Sophie Dutta for creating three gorgeous 1920s looks. 

Giberg event Savoy (22)
Packing up wasn’t quite so glamorous!

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