Natalia Goncharova’s Peasant Woman: setting the scene

The Russian artist’s costume design for the ballet/opera Le Coq d’Or reflects the vibrant use of colour from her earlier paintings

Old and new …

This 1937 illustration gives a taste of the vivid colours and striking forms, inspired by traditional Russian culture, with which Natalia Goncharova made her name as a costume and set designer. Her break-out hit was the Ballets Russes’s Le Coq D’Or in 1914. Dancers in appliqued cotton or velvet were complemented by her city backdrop, a modernist fantasy of ancient Azerbaijan.

Design icon …

Critics spilled as much ink on Goncharova’s designs as principal ballerina Tamara Karsavina’s barefoot performance.

Double bill …

The original costumes were only seen for one season as they belonged to the production’s sponsor. This illustration is for a revival in 1937.

Threads …

The move into costumes and later fashion seemed a natural one for Goncharova, whose chief influences included both modernist ideas and Tula province textiles.

Factory girl …

Goncharova’s creations were made largely alone. Dressed in her preferred working attire of men’s clothes, she grafted in a factory on Moscow’s outskirts.

Natalia Goncharova’s Peasant Woman, 1937.
Natalia Goncharova’s Peasant Woman, 1937. Photograph: © ADAGP/DACS

Natalia Goncharova, Tate Modern, SE1, to 8 September

Contributor

Skye Sherwin

The GuardianTramp

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