23.06.2011 – 25.06.2011
Hermitage Museum, Armorial hall

Artists: Benois Alexandre.


Alexandre Benois and the Tenth Muse

Anna Winestein

“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….”