Biography: Romain de Tirtoff (1892-1990) was a Russian-born Art Deco artist and designer known by the pseudonym Erté, derived from the French pronunciation of his initials. His prolific career spanned theater design, sculpture and the graphic arts, jewelry, furniture and interior décor.
In 1912, Erté moved to Paris from his native St. Petersburg and collaborated briefly with the fashion designer Paul Poiret before moving on to the theater, where he designed costumes for the exotic dancer Mata Hari, later famous as a German spy. Performers including Sarah Bernhardt, Anna Pavlova, Lillian Gish, and Joan Crawford wore his costumes.
Between the World Wars, his elaborate stage and costume designs were in demand for operas, theater and ballets in Paris, Monte Carlo, New York, among major capitals, and for enormously popular music hall productions, which was at the time, including the Ziegfeld Follies and the Folies-Bergere. Between 1915 and the late 1930s, he designed hundreds of covers for the monthly fashion magazine Harper's Bazaar. His fashion illustration work also appeared in Vogue, the Illustrated London News, Cosmopolitan, and Ladies' Home Journal. His designs are characterized by fluidity of outline, precise drawing, inventive patterns and colors, and adept spatial devices. His highly stylized portrayals of sinuous women draped in the height of fashion helped define style for a generation.
Erté continued working throughout his life and enjoyed a renewal of his styles and subjects with the Art Deco revival of the 1960s, when he issued limited edition prints and sculptures. His enduring stature is reflected in that fact that in 1967, after an exhibition of 170 of his works in New York, the Metropolitan Museum of Art bought the entire collection, marking the first time the Museum bought an entire exhibition of a living artist.