Anna Pavlova by Sir John Lavery



Title

Anna Pavlova

Artist

Sir John Lavery

Ref GM594
Type Fine Art Print
Image Size 18" x 24" (46 x 60 cm)
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Description  
Anna Pavlova was born in 1881 and died in 1931. She inspired at least three generations of women dancers and is regarded as perhaps the best female dancer of all time. She is especially remembered for her portrayal of a swan in The Dying Swan: a role that was created for her by Michel Fokine. Anna Pavlova first appeared on stage in London in 1910 and it was at this time that the editor of The Illustrated London News suggested that Lavery paint the celebrated Russian ballerina. The commission commenced during her second season at The Palace Theatre in April 1911. The dancer visited Lavery’s studio regularly. For the painting, she enacted the Dance Bacchanal in slow motion to help the artist capture the pose. Lavery painted two full-length versions of the portrait, in which he endeavoured to capture the abandoned and wild frenzied nature of the pas de deux from Pavlova’s sensational performance in Pepita’s Ballet "The Seasons" in the opening night at the Palace Theatre, London in 1910. Although the dancer came to the artist's studio to pose over a three month period, Lavery depicts her as if she is on stage. Her head is thrown back with her face in the shadows, while the theatrical lighting dramatically illuminates the rest of the body. When the painting was first exhibited at the International Society in 1911, it received some criticism on account of its daring composition and brushwork. Unfazed by the reaction, Lavery painted Pavlova again in 1912, when he continued to deliberately capture on canvas the wild and untamed qualities of dance. His desire was to convey the same assault upon conventional sensibilities which Pavlova’s performances at The Palace Theatre had brought.