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COLLECTION Identifier: MS Thr 414.4

Howard D. Rothschild collection on Ballets Russes of Serge Diaghilev : Drawings and prints


Costume and stage designs for productions of Diaghilev's Ballets Russes as well as portraits and caricatures of dancers, choreographers, artists and other persons connected with the Ballets Russes.


  • 1909-1956
  • Majority of material found within 1909-1914


Language of Materials

Inscriptions on collection materials are in Russian, French, and English, with occasional German.

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on physical access to this material.

Conditions Governing Access

A portion of this collection is shelved offsite at the Harvard Depository. Retrieval requires advance notice. Readers should check with Houghton Public Services staff to determine what material is offsite and retrieval policies and times.

Conditions Governing Use

Images linked to this finding aid are intended for public access and educational use. This material is owned and/or held by the Houghton Library, and is provided solely for the purpose of teaching or individual research. Any other use, including commercial reuse, mounting on other systems, or other forms of redistribution requires the permission of the curator.


35 linear feet (10 portfolio drawers)

Includes costume and set designs by major Russian and Western artists for ballets from Ballets Russes repertoire from 1909 to 1929, as well as portraits, sketches and caricatures of dancers, choreographers, artists and other persons related to Ballets Russes.

Biographical / Historical

Howard D. Rothschild (d. 1989) was an artist and a major American collector of artwork related to Serge Diaghilev's Ballets Russes. He developed a passion for the Ballets Russes after Waslaw Nijinsky withdrew from a performance during the company's tour of America in 1916 attended by Rothschild when a child. The collection was amassed by purchase and by gift from the dancers and artists with whom Rothschild developed friendships.

Serge Diaghilev (1872-1929) was a Russian ballet impresario, the founder, producer and artistic director of Ballets Russes.

Ballets Russes was established by Serge Diaghilev in 1909 as a touring company to promote Russian ballet in Europe. After World War I the company permanently relocated to the West. The company gave rise to careers of a great number of outstanding Russian and Western dancers, choreographers, composers and artists who had recreated the art of ballet for the 20th-century, both in Europe and in the United States.


The collection is organised into two series:

  1. I. Original artwork
  2. II. Prints

Physical Location

pfd, ppf

Physical Location

framed storage

Physical Location

Harvard Depository

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Bequest of Howard D. Rothschild, 1035 Park Avenue, New York, New York; received: 1990 March 23.

Existence and Location of Copies

Images of artwork from this collection are also available through Harvard University Library's Visual Information System (VIA) catalog as part of the Russian Theatrical Designs at the Harvard Theatre Collection project . Search in VIA under designers' last names or see links to individual images below.

Separated Materials

Other parts of the bequest were catalogued as:

Ballets Russes souvenir programs, books and periodicals from the bequest were incorporated into the Harvard Theatre Collection general holdings. Provenance of each item was indicated.

Processing Information

Processed by: Irina Klyagin

The collection was initially processed in 1991 by Catherine Johnson, Amy Lucker and Kathy Markees. It has been frequently used by researchers, so the previous call numbers have been recorded.

Rothschild, Howard D., collector. Howard D. Rothschild collection on Ballets Russes of Serge Diaghilev: Drawings and prints, 1909-1956: Guide.
Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library
Description rules
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Houghton Library Repository

Houghton Library is Harvard College's principal repository for rare books and manuscripts, archives, and more. Houghton Library's collections represent the scope of human experience from ancient Egypt to twenty-first century Cambridge. With strengths primarily in North American and European history, literature, and culture, collections range in media from printed books and handwritten manuscripts to maps, drawings and paintings, prints, posters, photographs, film and audio recordings, and digital media, as well as costumes, theater props, and a wide range of other objects. Houghton Library has historically focused on collecting the written record of European and Eurocentric North American culture, yet it holds a large and diverse number of primary sources valuable for research on the languages, culture and history of indigenous peoples of the Americas, Africa, Asia and Oceania.

Houghton Library’s Reading Room is free and open to all who wish to use the library’s collections.

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