23.06.2011 – 25.06.2011
Hermitage Museum, Armorial hall
Artists: Benois Alexandre.
Alexandre Benois and the Tenth Muse
“Alexandre Benois spent his long and immensely productive life in the service of the
muses, particularly Clio (history), Euterpe (music), Terpsichore (dance), and Melpomene
and Thalia (Tragedy and Comedy). It is ironic, then, that we know little about his legacy
in the realm of cinema, the tenth muse, given his participation in Abel Gance’s legendary
and enormously innovative film, Napoleon (1927) as well as his influence on Iakov
Protazanov’s Queen of Spades (1916). Benois, it turns out, played a small but vital role in
the creation of these two classics of early cinema, one French and one Russian. The
Ravenscourt Galleries collection of costume designs for Napoleon is an important
testament, likely the largest, to this aspect of Benois’ oeuvre.
Napoleon was to cinema what the Rite of Spring was to dance and music—a revolution….”