Léon Leyritz  (1888 - 1976)

Leyritz was a sculptor and designer who met Ravel around 1927, after he had asked to make a bust of the composer. Ravel agreed provided that he didn't have to sit for it. The bust was duly completed and presented at a party at Le Belvédère in June 1928. Ravel said that it was his best portrait; it is now displayed at the Palais Garnier in Paris.

Leyritz's bust of Ravel

A couple of years later, Leyritz designed the small apartment, in art-deco style, which Ravel kept at the house of his brother Edouard in Levallois.

In 1935 when Ravel's illness was well-established and his friends were desperately trying to find ways of alleviating the distress and depression that he was feeling, it was Leyritz who undertook to accompany him on a trip to Spain and Morocco. He was faithfully attentive to his friend's needs, and wrote letters to Nelly Delage and Hélène Jourdan-Morhange recording the brighter moments of their travels. (Orenstein [1989], pp.283-284.)

Leyritz also designed the décor for the ballet of Boléro, according to Ravel's own ideas for it which were somewhat different from the original production (in which a flamenco dancer dances on a table in a bar before a crowd of male admirers); Ravel wanted it to be set against the background of a vast industrial factory. Thanks to the insistence of his brother Edouard, this version was eventually staged at the Opéra in 1941.

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