Partner Sergey Rostislavovich Ernst, buried together

Queer Places:
Fondation Custodia, 121 Rue de Lille, 75007 Paris, France
Montparnasse Cemetery, 3 Boulevard Edgar Quinet, 75014 Paris, France

Dmitri Bouchéne by Zinaida SerebriakovaDimitri Bouchène (April 26, 1893 - March 6, 1993) is a Russian painter naturalized French in 1947. Notably creator of sets and costumes for the theater, the ballet and the opera, designer for the haute couture , he was also painter ( watercolor , gouache and pastel ) of landscapes, circus scenes and still lifes. He was born on April 26 , 1893[ 1 ] in Saint-Tropez, in the Villa of General Allard, and died on February 6, 1993, in Paris.

Dimitri Bouchène comes from a family of Protestant French aristocratic origin: it is the revocation of the edict of Nantes in 1685 which forced his ancestor Nicolas to emigrate to Russia. Grandfather Dmitry Khristianovich (1826-1871) was an officer in the St. Petersburg Pages Corps under Tsar Alexander II  ; his father Dmitri Dmitrievich was governor of Warsaw and major-general administrator of the city of Baku (Viceroy of the Caucasus) under Alexander III. His older sister, Alexandra Dmitrievna (1892-1992), was a pianist and music historian [ 2 ] . His great-uncle Alexander Ivanovich Nelidov was ambassador to Paris from 1907 to 1910 . Dimitri's mother tongue was French.

In 1893 his mother, Anna Mikhaltseva, was cured against tuberculosis on the Côte d'Azur, in Saint-Tropez, and she gave birth to her son Dimitri Bouchène. She died when he was two (1895), and Dimitri was raised in Saint Petersburg by two of his aunts from the Kouzmine-Karavaïev family (one of them, Ekatherina Kouzmina-Karavaïeva, was born Bouchène) , thus sharing the education of his many cousins, including his cousin and friend Dmitri Kouzmine-Karavaïev (1886-1959) which we know that, seduced at first by Bolshevism , he engaged then in orthodox christianity, like his wife Elisabeth, known as Marie Skobtsova [ 3 ] , who was gassed in 1945 at the Ravensbrück camp , and was canonized in 2004 [ 4 ] .

Until 1912, Dimitri Bouchène, while taking evening painting classes, was a student of the Second Gymnasium in Saint Petersburg . At the University, he binds himself passionately to the fellow student who will remain the companion of his whole life, the future art historian Sergey Rostislavovich Ernst (1894-1980), who will leave monographs of Nicolas Roerich, Alexandre Benois and Konstantin Somov. It was in 1912 that, benefiting from a personal recommendation from Nicolas Roerich to Maurice Denis , Dimitri went to Paris where he attended the latter's workshop at the Ranson Academy and where one of his great meetings was that of Henri Matisse from whom he learns to paint not what he sees, but what he feels.

Sergei Ernst
Sergey Rostislavovich Ernst by Zinaida Serebriakova

Dimitri returned to Saint Petersburg in 1913 to follow university studies in history and philology, then, from 1915 to 1917, drawing lessons at the Imperial Society for the Promotion of Fine Arts . Presented to Sergei Diaghilev and Alexandre Benois by Nicolas Roerich, Dimitri, in 1917 joined the movement Mir Iskusstva ( The art world). During the Russian revolution, he was welcomed for a time in the apartment of the painter Alexandre Benois - while being named, thanks to the latter, at the Hermitage museum as curator of the precious objects department (silverware, jewelry and Russian porcelain in particular) . He will keep this latter function until 1925. Given the harassment of the Soviet authorities, he requests leave to resume in France with Serge Ernst studies of art history, for three months. They both leave the Soviet Union via the Estonian city of Tallinn  ; both will never return [ 1 ] .

In Paris in 1926, Dimitri Bouchène designed the costumes for Anna Pavlova before working for the haute couture houses ( Lucien Lelong , Jean Patou , Nina Ricci [ 5 ] , Lanvin ) and interior decoration ( Maison Jansen ) [ 1 ] . Works on paper located in Saint-Tropez and Toulon and dated 1927 and 1928 indicate a return to the region where he was born, before his great involvement in the sets and stage costumes which began in 1930, the year when dated watercolors indicate also a stay in Florence . He will not delay, confirms Claude Robert, like Christian Bérard and other painters of his time, to lead his life as an artist head on and to deploy considerable activity aimed at bringing about a new conception of theatrical illusion. . It gives in to the attraction of the unusual and gives life to an imaginary universe that will attract and make you dream for almost half a century [ 6 ] . We know that during the Second World War he and his companion Serge Ernst took an active part in the French resistance , in a vigilant discretion that Dimitri would recommend to the saving Maria Skobtsova to imitate but which she would give up to be led to her end of martyrdom [3 ] ..

Dimitri leaves this world a little more than two months of its 100 th  anniversary. The two torches of his life will have been the art historian with an infallible eye, with sound judgment, his guide and adviser Serge Ernst and Alexandre Benois, the fantastic theater decorator, the great painter and also historian: the disappearance of his friend Serge Ernst in 1980 had plunged him into despair testify his close [ 7 ] . He is buried at Montparnasse Cemetery [ 1 ], joined forever with his companion Serge Ernst, who disappeared thirteen years before him. On the tomb surmounted by an Orthodox cross , one can read these engraved words: Какая радость, ты пришель ( What happiness, you came. ) [ 8 ] . These are the words that Serge Ernst said at the hospital when Dimitri came to see him.

Dimitri's features remain fixed to us by a portrait that his friend Zinaida Serebriakova made in 1922 [ 9 ] . His archives are kept at the Fondation Custodia installed at the Hotel Turgot, rue de Lille in Paris, by his friend the collector Frits Lugt .

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