MacDougall’s Russian Art auction on 3 June is certain to rouse the interest of Russian art lovers with a series of portraits of celebrated figures of the beginning of the 20th century by artists not commonly associated with portraiture. Masquerade by Konstantin Somov is an exquisite example of commedia dell’arte, a genre so beloved by Somov with its ubiquitous Columbines, Pantalones and Harlequins. What is unusual in this work, created for the cover of Vanity Fair, is that all the personages are Hollywood and Broadway stars of the 1920s. In the foreground on the left, we can distinguish the renowned husband-and-wife team of Broadway royalty, Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne; whereas on the right, there are the siblings Fred and Adele Aster, the inimitable star dancers. In the background to the centre, there is the actor John Barrymore in profile, his pensive, stern expression complemented by his stage costume of Hamlet. J

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