In 1909, Sergei Diaghilev founded the Ballets Russes, a touring ballet company which performed throughout Europe and North and South America. It is regarded today as arguably the most influential
ballet company of the twentieth century, with Diaghilev serving as the company's revolutionary artistic director, championed for encouraging collaborative work among choreographers, composers,
artists, designers, and dancers. Over the years, Diaghilev partnered with many artistic virtuosos including Igor Stravinsky, George Balanchine, Pablo Picasso,
Joan Miró, and Coco Chanel.
In 1926, surrealists Miró and Max Ernst, whose work Diaghilev admired and acquired in Paris, were commissioned to design the stage sets and costumes for Diaghilev's new Ballets Russes production of Romeo and Juliet, to be performed in Monte Carlo. Diaghilev's original plan for this production of Roméo et Juliette was a true-to-text telling story by William Shakespeare, for which he had engaged the young English composer Constant Lambert, and Lambert's friend Christopher Wood for the costume and set designs. Diaghilev soon changed his mind, however, and decided to adapt the plot to follow the story of a ballet company rehearsing Roméo et Juliette. To better suit his new production ideas, Diaghilev recruited Miró and Ernst in Wood's stead. The picture here represents a group of seven designs by Miró for this production,