[Nijinsky, Waslaw. (1889-1950)]: Antique Gold Vessel, Presented to Nijinsky after the Premiere of Debussy's "Jeux"
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An antique gold vessel and cover presented to the great dancer and choreographer after the premiere of Debussy's Jeux in 1913. Designed as a stylized urn, the vessel bears the presentation engraving: "Vaslav Nijinsky/Jeux/Theatre des Champs-Elysees/le 15 mai, 1913" above a pair of crossed tennis rackets and a tennis ball. Solid 14K gold with maker's mark. 9 inches (23 cm) high. Deaccessioned from the collection of the Metropolitan Opera Guild, for whom it was purchased by Mrs. John E. Long, in memory of Lily O. Pforzheimer.
The last work for orchestra written by Claude Debussy, Jeux ("Games") was comped for the Ballets Russes of Sergei Diaghilev to choreography by Vaslav Nijinsky. Conducted by Pierre Monteux, Jeux was first performed on 15 May 1913 at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, Paris and was not well received (and was soon eclipsed by Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring, which was premiered two weeks later by Diaghilev's company). Danced by Nijinsky, Tamara Karsavina, and Ludmilla Schollar, the scenario of the ballet involves two girls and a boy who play, chase each other and embrace in the fantastical setting of a garden tennis court.
"Jeux premiered in Paris in May at the grand opening of Gabriel Astruc's modern new theatre, the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées. The set was a large grey-green garden, an open space—not intimate enough, Bronia [Nijinska] thought, for Nijinsky's subtle pas de trois in which so much is implied or implicit. Bakst's costume designs were rejected at the last minute—for some reason he had planned to have Vaslav in a red wig and unflattering long shorts—so instead he wore a white version of his practice clothes while Jeanne Paquin designed the girls' white tennis dresses. Again, the dancers barely touched; again the theme of male innocence and female knowledge was repeated. This 'second instalment of Nijinsky's erotic autobiography [revealed] no less urgently than Faune, the power of desire, the ambiguity of sexual identity, and his aversion to intercourse itself.' " (Lucy Moore: Nijinsky: A Life.)