Biography

Nadezhda Leontievna Ustinova (Надежда Леонтьевна Устинова), née Benois (Бенуа), better known as Nadia Benois (27 April 1896 – 8 December 1975), was a Russian-born painter of still lifes and landscapes, and stage designer. Her father Leon Benois belonged to the Benois family. She was the mother of British actor, writer, and filmmaker Sir Peter Ustinov.

Nadezhda studied how to be an artist at St. Petersburg Academy of Fine Arts. On 17 July 1920, Benois married Jona Ustinov, a journalist and diplomat; the couple subsequently settled in London, where Peter, their only child, was born in 1921. In 1935, Jona became a British subject.

In the course of her travels, Benois painted the impressionist landscapes of London street, Wales, Ireland, and Scotland. She exhibited her works in the Goupil, Redfern, Beaux-Arts, and other galleries, and is mentioned in multiple Journals from the Royal Arts Society. Some of her still lifes were acquired by the Tate Gallery in 1936. She also designed the stage for the ballet Cap over Mill, which was part of the Dark Elegies.

Later, Benois created costumes and sets for the films Vice Versa (1948) and Private Angelo (1949)), both written and directed by her son, Peter.

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