Russian-born painter and stage-designer, much concerned with the romantic grandeur of Italian Renaissance architecture. Born in St Petersburg of a prosperous banking family. Studied painting from the age of 14, his first teacher being an architect who stimulated his interest in architecture. Settled in Paris in 1919 and studied 1919-20 at the Acadmie Ranson, but as a painter mainly self-taught. Made many prolonged visits to Italy from 1922 onwards to study antique ruins, and Renaissance and Baroque architecture. Became identified with the Neo-Romantic movement whose members included Bérard, Tchelitchew and his brother, Léonid Berman. First one-man exhibition at the Galerie Granoff, Paris, 1927. Active from 1937 as a designer for ballet and opera, including sets and costumes for Lifar's Icare 1937 and Balanchine's Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme 1944. Moved from Paris to the USA in 1939 and became a US citizen in 1944. He spent much time in Italy again from 1950, mainly in Rome, where he died.
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, p.50