BAKST, LEON NIKOLAJEWITSCH, a Russian artist, born in Petrograd in 1886. He studied art in Petrograd and Paris, and began his career as an artist in Moscow, where his treatment of polit ical subjects in his paintings so dis pleased the Russian authorities that he removed to Paris in 1906. There he took up stage direction and his work as an original designer of stage settings cre ated an immediate impression. He de signed settings for several well-known plays and operas, including "Salome," "The Butterflies," and "The Orientate." He designed stage settings and decora tions for many plays and operas given in New York and several exhibitions of his designs and drawings were held in that and other American cities.
BAKU (M-kii'), a Russian port on the W. shore of the Caspian, occupying part of the peninsula of Apsheron. The naph tha or petroleum springs of Baku have long been known; and the Field of Fire, so called from emitting inflammable gases, have long been a place of pilgrim age with the Guebers or fire-worshippers.
In modern times, from the development of the petroleum industry, Baku has greatly increased, and has become a large and flourishing town. Hundreds of oil wells are in operation, producing im mense quantities of petroleum, much of which is led direct in pipes from the wells to the refineries in Baku. Baku, previous to the World War, was the sta tion of the Caspian fleet, was strongly fortified, and had a large shipping trade. In 1901 and 1905 conflicts between the Armenians and Tartars resulted in the partial demolition of the town and costly conflagrations in the oil field. During the World War (1914-1918) Baku was the scene of severe fighting. In May, 1918, Baku became the capital of the new republic of Azerbaijan. The liberal government formed at that time was overthrown by the Bolsheviki in April, 1920, and Baku again was the scene of much fighting.