Sunday, February 22, 2015

Art Star: Erté

b. November 23, 1892, St. Petersburg, Russia
d. April 21 1990, Paris, France

Erté was born Romain de Tirtoff in St. Petersburg Russia in 1892. The only son of an admiral in the Imperial Fleet, he was raised amidst Russia's social elite. As a young boy, he was fascinated by the Persian miniatures he found in his father's library. These exotic, brightly patterned designs continued to be important to him and influenced the development of his style.

Persian Miniature Paintings:

He moved to Paris at the age of eighteen and took the name Erté, from the French pronunciation of his initials, R and T. In 1915 he began his long relationship with Harper's Bazaar, during which time he created over 240 covers for the magazine. 

Harper's Bazaar Magazine Covers:

To see more Harper's Bazaar covers by Erté, click here

His fashion designs also appeared in many other publications, making him one of the most widely recognized artists of the 1920s. 

He also designed costumes and sets for the theater. In 1976 the French government awarded Erté the title of Officer of Arts and Letters, and in 1982 the Medaille de Vermeil de la Ville de Paris was bestowed upon him.


“The Arctic Sea”, 1925

Wedding costume for Aladin , 1929

Costume for the wife of a Russian boyar; The Woman and the Devil at the Théâtre Apollo, 1921

Costume for Pelléas et Mélisande, 1927 

Set Designs:

Design for Stage Set, City Skyline Seen Beyond Terrace, for Manhattan Mary, 1927

To see more theater set designs, click here

Erté and the Ziegfeld Follies

The Ziegfeld Follies were famous for many beautiful chorus girls commonly known as Ziegfeld girls.  

Florenz Ziegfeld's theatrical spectaculars known as the Ziegfeld Follies, were based on the Folies Bergère of Paris.... Erte costumes and sets were featured in the Ziegfeld Follies of 1923.

 Erté's theatrical innovations were countless, including "living curtains" (showgirls with plumes and pearls, festooned by embroidered trains. The Ziegfeld girls paraded up and down flights of stairs semi-nude, as anything from birds to battleships.

 These beauties, of similar size, decked out in Erté designs, gained many young male admirers and they became objects of popular adoration.

Prints and More Work (costumes, sets, apparel, etc.)

The alphabet and numeral suite:

For the complete alphabet and numeral suite, click here

Work from the Metropolitan Museum of Art

To see images from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, click here

Erté continued working throughout his life, designing revues, ballets, and operas. He had a major rejuvenation and much lauded interest in his career during the 1960s with the Art Deco revival. He branched out into the realm of limited edition prints, bronzes, and wearable art.

Erté's work has exhibited in prominent museums around the world including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Los Angeles County Museum in California, The Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C., The Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and more. Erté is credited as being the originator of the Art Deco Movement and is the style for which he is identified.

To see more of Erte's work, click here