Pavel Fyodorovitch Tchelitchew, 21 Sep 1898 - 31 Jul 1957
Lincoln Edward Kirstein, 4 May 1907 - 5 Jan 1996
Sepia ink on paper
Image: 36 × 22 cm (14 3/16 × 8 11/16")
Sheet: 45 × 29.5 cm (17 11/16 × 11 5/8")
Mat (Verified): 71.1 × 55.9 cm (28 × 22")
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Mrs. R. Kirk Askew
Author and impresario Lincoln Kirstein, a lifelong friend of the Russian-born painter and set designer Pavel Tchelitchew, helped promote the artist's career after his emigration to the United States in 1934. When Kirstein and choreographer George Balanchine produced Christoph Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice at the Metropolitan Opera in 1936, they commissioned Tchelitchew to design the sets and costumes. The artist painted Kirstein's portrait the following year, for which he made several drawings. The painting, a triple portrait depicting Kirstein in various guises, reveals Tchelitchew's fascination with multiple perspectives and interior essences. This penetrating drawing is a more straightforward portrayal of the young man about whom the composer Igor Stravinsky would write, "Kirstein was a young giant then, who wore a fierce expression and who matched it with a bellicose dedication to the beautiful and a contempt for the sham."