Erté  (Romain de Tirtoff) (1892-1990)

Erté, 'Le Bistrot'

Le Bistrot
Stage design for the ballet film
‘ Edition Speciale’ by Louis Cuny 1961
Gouache on paper : 18 x 38 cm
Signed by Erté (Romain de Tirtoff) (1892-1990)



Le Bistrot

Erté was the pseudonym of the Russian born artist and designer, Romain de Tirtoff.  He was born in St Petersburg in 1892, and moved to Paris when he was eighteen, adopting the name Erté from the French pronunciation of his initials R and T.

He initially started working for the highly influential fashion designer Paul Poiret, but by 1915 had begun his long collaboration with the magazine ‘ Harper’s Bazaar’, creating over 240 Art Deco influenced cover designs for the magazine over the next twenty two years.

Throughout this period Erté created original costume designs for many of the era’s most renowned film actresses, including Joan Crawford, Lilian Gish, Marion Davies, Anna Pavlova and Norma Shearer.  His creations for the stage included extravagant designs for productions at such venues as the Casino de Paris, the Paris Opera, New York Radio City Music Hall, as well as for the Folies Bergere in Paris, and George White’s Scandals in New York.  He spent a period in Hollywood in the 1920’s, and designed stage sets and costumes for theatre, opera, and films throughout his very long career.

Our painting is an original set design for the French made short film ‘Edition Speciale’, for which Erté designed the sets and costumes in 1961.

A lifetime of international success and appreciation has ensured his place in the history of twentieth century art, and his original designs can be found in the permanent collections of museums around the world, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Smithsonian Institution and the V&A, London.  A retrospective of his work was held in the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg in 2016 to mark the 125th anniversary of his birth. Glyndebourne Opera in Sussex held an exhibition during their 2018 summer season devoted to his set and costume designs for their 1980 production  of ‘Der Rosenkavalier’.

Erté died in 1990 at 98, having had his inspirational Art Deco influenced work endure throughout the twentieth century, a career spanning seven decades.

Erté, 'Le Bistrot'

Set design for Les Joies du Capitol at Theatre de la Madeline, 1935
Pencil and gouache on paper : 15 x 25 cm
Annotated verso: Set design for Les Joies du Capitol, 1935, (Theatre de la Madeline) Décor 615