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Available for purchase.

E.O. Hoppé and the Ballets Russes

A Limited Edition Museum Box Set

By the year 1911, Hoppé was London’s premier society photographer, coinciding with the London arrival of Russian ballet impresario, Sergei Pavlovich Diaghilev, and his newly-formed Ballets Russes dance company.

Hoppé, eager to work with Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes, prepared a business proposal: “Allow me exclusive rights to photograph your dancers for their London seasons and I will provide you with your publicity photographs for free.” Although seemingly nothing more than a gentleman’s agreement, a ten-year collaboration between Hoppé and the Ballets Russes began, producing some of the most beautiful images of the world’s most famous dance company.

Diaghilev was notoriously protective of his ballet company’s image and severely restricted the media’s access to many of his stars, except under strict conditions. Having gained the trust of the great impresario as well as the respect of his illustrious sitters, Hoppé was granted special access to photograph Diaghilev’s dancers. Some of his photographs were indeed used by the dance company for publicity but many of these portraits are now being seen for the first time.

These behind-the-scenes portraits provide us intimate access to many of these now-legendary dancers whose extraordinary talent and unprecedented costumes, sets, music, and dancing made them the most famous ballet troupe in the first half of the 20th century.

Hoppé’s strikingly modernist compositions and evident attention to the performer’s psychology compliment the Ballets Russes’ ingenious technical innovations in both dance and theater performance. This mutual artistic vision influenced lasting relationships between Hoppé and many of the Ballets Russes dancers he photographed between 1911 and 1923, notably Vaslav Nijinsky, Tamara Karsavina, Adolph Bolm, Anna Pavlova, Michel Fokine, Olga Spessivtseva, and Leonide Massine, among others.

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