Natalia Goncharova came into contact with Spanish folk traditions in 1916, the year that Alfonso XIII invited Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes to perform in the country. The famous company was glad to receive the royal invitation, since it meant they could escape from the inherent dangers of the First World War, as Spain remained neutral throughout the conflict. Diaghilev decided to bring Goncharova on the Spanish visit, as she had already worked with him in 1914 on Le coq d’or (The Golden Cockerel), the piece that would make the Russian’s name in stage design. So it was that in 1916 Goncharova designed costumes and stage sets for two ballets inspired by Hispanic motifs: Rapsodia española (Spanish Rhapsody), with music by Maurice Ravel, and Triana, with music by Isaac Albéniz and choreography by Léonide Massine. Neither was staged in the end, but they did result in a series of Spanish dancer figurines, including this one from the Museo Reina Sofía collection.
Paloma Esteban Leal