London’s Victoria and Albert Museum is finally set to exhibit Picasso’s huge set design for the Ballets Russes. Measuring in at 34 by 38 feet, this theatrical front cloth designed by the modern master will go on view at next month and is sure to thrill. It is, in fact, the largest canvas ever designed by Picasso.
The curtain first hung in a 1924 Parisian performance of Russian dance impresario Diaghilev “Le Train Bleu,” the painting is an enlargement of Picasso’s 1922 “Deux Femme Courant Sur La Plage” and was tucked away behind the stages main curtain, to be revealed right before the ballet began. Now set to be shown again as part of the V&A’s exhibition “Diaghilev and the Golden Age of 1909-1929,” the work was executed with Picasso’s permission by set designer Prince Alexandre Shervashidze — so pleasing the artist that he added his famous signature and a dedication to the massive piece.
The canvas was in storage and folded for many years, leading to creases that are still visible even after more than two decades in the possession of the V&A, which handled it more carefully. It last made its way out of storage in 2003, when it was unfurled on the floor of the Royal Opera House as part of a program to raise funds for the Theatre Museum, which closed in 2007