A ballet slipper worn and danced in by the most legendary ballerina in the history of dance, Anna Pavlova. Pink slipper stamped size 12 on the sole, almost certainly fashioned by the maker Romeo Nicolini, satin body over stiff leather sole, ca. 220 mm in length; slightly worn from use. Housed in a custom book-form full pink goatskin case with recessed compartment lined in crushed white velvet, with a slipper design gilt-stamped to the front board, and name plate on spine. A very fine presentation of an extraordinary relic.
From the collection of ballerina Joan Van Wart (1900-1987) who toured with Anna Pavlova and her company, collected Pavlovaiana assiduously, and who loaned her collection to the Victoria & Albert Museum for their 1956 Pavlova Commemorative Exhibition. Accompanied by a copy of a news article about the sale of Van Wart's collection (UK Antiques Information Services, 3/14/12), including an image of the present slipper, and a signed letter of provenance from the original buyer of the collection.
The craftsman Romeo Nicolini made dance shoes which were famous for not making any sound on stage, and he crafted them for many important dancers including Tamara Karsavina, Lydia Lopokova and others from the Ballets Russes. Yet his most famous client was Anna Pavlova. Like all of his shoes, the ones for her were of course made by hand, but the specifications from Pavlova were especially exacting and she is known to have worked closely with Nicolini over many years. Pavlova often sent him drawings and measurements and, at times, she even visited him to show him how particular steps had to be performed so that he could create perfectly fitting shoes to suit them. While Nicolini was honored that the performer wore his shoes, he once told the great virtuoso dancer and teacher Enrico Cecchetti that he was glad he only had one Pavlova to please since she was extremely demanding when it came to quality and design. Nicolini’s shoes for Tamara Karsavina, as well as for others, are in the permanent collection of the V&A in London.
Terms and abbreviations used in our descriptions.