Erte, born Roman de Tirtoff, was born into an ancient family of Russian military aristocracy in 1892. He spent his first 19 years in imperial St Petersburg which overflowed at the time with theatre, ballet and art. He designed a dress for his mother to wear as a ball gown at the tender age of 6. In 1906 he began studying with portraitist Ilya Repin.

He arrived in Paris in 1912 to study with historical painter Jean-Paul Laurens at Academie Julian. He hated the regimen of study and quit within months. A dressmaker Caroline who thought he had no talent for designing hired him. After a month he submitted sketches to Pioret, the eccentric doyen of French couturiers. His first assignment was to design costumes for the notorious Mata Hari. In Paris he got his pen name, which is merely the French pronunciation of his initials R.T.

Piorot closed in 1914 because of the war. Erte designed for Henry Bendel and Altman’s in New York. In 1915 he submitted sketches to Harper’s Bazaar. They published his first cover in January 1915. For twenty-two years his designs graced the covers and pages of Harper’s Bazaar. In 1916 he contributed work to Vogue. William Randolph Hearst, publisher of Harper’s Bazaar, then signed him to an exclusive 10-year contract to prevent him from working with Vogue.

His name became synonymous with this publication and his style became known as Art Deco. During his time he began the astonishingly wide variety of artistic activities for which he has become famous- designing clothes for fashionable women; costumes for movie stars Joan Crawford, Norma Shearer, and many others; sets for Hollywood films; extraordinarily imaginative costumes and sets for George White’s Scandals, the Folies Berg’re, the Paris Opera, the Glyndenbourne Festival opera, and innumerable theatrical productions; and many other theatre products.

In 1926 he returned to Paris because he wanted to work in theatre. He began to design fabrics in 1929. He designed costumes and sets for the 1964 New York World’s Fair.

At seventy-five he began designing graphics that have brought him to international acclaim. He worked with a succession of new mediums- sculpture, glass, ceramics, metallic art, and others. His first graphic editions were created in 1968. In 1980 RFK International introduced his sculpture Collection. Circle Fine Arts introduced his jewelry collection the same year. In 1983 he helped design a line of women’s Haute Couture clothing and millinery. January 1987 he designed the cover for Playboy.

The influence of Erte’s style and the demand for his art live on. His work belongs to prestigious museum collections throughout the world, most notably the Smithsonian, The Victoria and Albert Museum (London), New York’s Metropolitan Museum and The Museum of Modern Art. Many books have been published on the artist’s life and work, including Erte at Ninety-Five: The Complete New Graphics [The Extended Edition] and Erte: The Last Works. As the exclusive publisher of Erte, Chalk & Vermilion Fine Arts of Greenwich, CT is pleased to make available, through Central Galleries, his limited edition serigraphs, bronze sculptures, books and posters.

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