A poet, critic, magazine editor, and novelist, Lincoln Kirstein above all played a central role in shaping America’s classical ballet tradition. Obsessed with dance from an early age, Kirstein brought choreographer George Balanchine of Russia’s Diaghilev Ballet to the United States in the early 1930s, and together they founded the School of American Ballet. Their collaboration continued, and in 1948 they established the New York City Ballet, with Kirstein serving as general director until 1989. He also founded the Dance Archives of the Museum of Modern Art, which became the basis of the Dance Collection of the New York Public Library. The portraitist, Jamie Wyeth, was only nineteen when this painting was completed.