Valentine Gross Archive

Scope and Content

The archive includes material relating to performing arts in early 19th century in the form of press cuttings, souvenir programmes, illustrations, prints, correspondence, notes, photographs, preliminary sketches, drawings, illustrations, pastels and woodcut-style drawings.

The material plays emphasis on the ballet and opera productions of Diaghilev Ballets Russes and dancers active in Paris in early 20th century including Vaslav Nijinsky and Tamara Karsavina. However, there are preliminary sketches of dancers in Les Sylphides, London Festival Ballet in 1958. In addition, the material covers other subjects including cinema, dance and theatre in the 18th century to early 20th century.

Administrative / Biographical History

This archive contains mostly papers collected or artwork created by Valentine Gross and notes created by Richard Buckle.

Valentine Gross, a.k.a. Valentine Hugo (1887 - 1968), was a French art ballet enthusiast, illustrator, researcher and painter and still a student at the time of 1909 Saison Russe in Paris. She witnessed annual seasons of Diaghilev Ballets Russes in Paris and made preliminary sketches during rehearsals and performances between 1909 and 1920. Allegedly she attended every ballet performance presented by Diaghilev in Paris in the years 1909 - 1914. She later worked them up into pencil or coloured drawings of various degrees of finish including illustrations, pastels and paintings. Her pastels were exhibited at the 1913 opening season of the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées. She was married to Jean Hugo between 1919 to 1929.

Richard Buckle (1916 - 2001) was a dance critic and one of the founders of the Friends of the Museum of Performing Arts. He was a key figure responsible for the acquisition of a vast number of costumes and memorabilia relating to Diaghilev Ballets Russes in the late 1960s and 1970s for the Friends of the Museum of Performing Arts. Collections held by the Friends of the Museum of Performing Arts were donated to the V&A in 1974 which today form the collections of the V&A Department of Theatre and Performance.

Richard Buckle in his book Nijinsky on Stage, published a selection of the drawings giving detailed analysis of each one. For this he interviewed Lydia Sokolova, a performer of the Diaghilev Ballets Russes, whose notes on the drawings are also found in the archive.


The archive has been arranged into four series:

  • THM/165/1 - Press cuttings, prints and notes relating to artists, productions and performing art subject related
  • THM/165/2 - Correspondence, notes and printed illustrations
  • THM/165/3 - Photographs of dancers and actors
  • THM/165/4 - Preliminary sketches, drawings, illustrations and woodcut-style drawings

Access Information

This archive collection is available for consultation in the V&A Blythe House Archive and Library Study Room by appointment only. Full details of access arrangements may be found here:

Access to some of the material may be restricted. These are noted in the catalogue where relevant.

Acquisition Information

Donated through Richard Buckle by Jean Hugo in 1978.

Conditions Governing Use

Information on copying and commercial reproduction may be found here:

Appraisal Information

This archive was appraised in line with the V&A collection management policy.

Custodial History

Richard Buckle was a friend of Jean Hugo and amongst the first donations he received for his nascent theatre museum, subsumed in 1974 into the V&A for the Theatre Museum were a selection of drawings, notes and ephemera from Valentine Gross, Hugo’s first wife. The gathering of material by Buckle is described in the second volume of his autobiography In the Wake of Diaghilev, London: Collins, 1982. Once in Buckle’s collection he used the material as a working tool for his publications adding his own notes and other material to it. Some souvenir programmes for the Ballets Russes and other not-unique material has been removed from the archive which includes working material Valentine Gross drew on for her illustrations. It appears that the archive has been re-organised on several occasions before this formal catalogue was created.


No further accruals are expected.

Related Material

Preliminary sketches, drawings, pastels, illustrations and woodcut-style drawings from the Valentine Gross Archive have been catalogued as museum objects.

See also the core collections of the V&A Department of Theatre and Performance. Material relating to Diaghilev Ballets Russes productions in the United Kindgon as well as material for the performers, in general may be found in several collections, including biographical, productions, company and photographs files.

Please ask for details via our enquiry service.


  • BUCKLE, Richard. Nijinsky on Stage, London: Studio Vista, 1971.
  • BUCKLE, Richard. Exhibition of Drawings: Nijinsky, Karsavina and the Diaghilev Ballet 1909 -1914, London: Hartnol & Eyre, 1973.
  • KAHANE, Martine. Nijinsky 1889 - 1950, Paris: Reunion des Musées Nationaux, 2002.

Corporate Names