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Costume Design, Ballet, Australia, Nureyev’s Don Quixote, Barry Kay, Watercolor, 1970


Barry Kay (Australia, 1932-1985)
Costume For the Gypsy Queen
in Rudolf Nureyev’s Don Quixote
Australia: 1970
Watercolor and gouache on paper
Signed and titled lower right
22 x 15.25 inches

Original costume design for the Gypsy Queen in the 1970 Australian Ballet production of Don Quixote, with choreography by Rudolf Nureyev (1938-1993). The three-act ballet with prologue is based on several scenes from the novel by Miguel de Cervantes. Nureyev revised and expanded upon the traditional version by Marius Petipa and Alexandre Gorski. Among the additions was a scene involving a gypsy camp for which this costume was designed. The original costume itself, as used for the ballet in 1970, is in an archive in Australia and displayed online.

Product description continues below.


Barry Kay was an Australian-born stage and costume designer who spent most of his career in England. Known mostly for his innovative designs for the performing arts, Kay was also a photographer. He originally intended to become a composer of music, but changed course, studying art and design at the Académie Julian in Paris in the early 1950s. Back in Australia, he started selling his paintings and working as a freelance artist. In 1955, he received his first major theatrical commission from the Australian Theatre Ballet. He moved to London permanently in 1956, and designed for the Old Vic, the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Royal Ballet and others. He also continued working for the Australian Ballet as well as opera houses and ballet companies around the world, including the Metropolitan Opera in New York. His photographic career began in 1973, and he pursued it alongside his stage and costume design work. The National Gallery of Australia acquired approximately 150 of Kay’s designs in 1982 “in recognition of his important and influential work as a designer for the theatre.” His work is well represented in other collections around the world including the Victoria & Albert Museum.

Rudolf Nureyev was one of the most famous ballet dancers in the world during the 1960s. He first performed the version of Don Quixote by Marius Petipa and Alexandre Gorski as a young dancer in Russia’s Kirov Ballet, and it became one of his popular roles after he emigrated to the West in 1961. In 1966, he restaged the ballet for the Vienna Opera commissioning a new arrangement of the original score and devising new choreography for some of the sections. He restaged it again with the Australian Ballet in 1970, and directed a film of that production in 1972. Later it was added to the repertoire of the Paris Opera Ballet and other companies.

Condition: Generally very good with the usual overall light toning, handling, wear associated with a working costume design. Some tape residue from former mounting in the backside outer margins, apparently stable and not affecting the front.


“Costume for the Gypsy Queen in Rudolf Nureyev’s Don Quixote.” Google Arts & Culture. (12 August 2020).

“Presenting the Artist.” Barry Kay Archive. (12 August 2020).

“Rudolf Nureyev and Don Quixote.” The Rudolf Nureyev Foundation. (12 August 2020).

Additional information


20th Century