Romain de Tirtoff (pseudonym
Erté, a French pronunciation of initials R.T.) (November
1990) was a Russian
and designer. Tirtoff was born as Roman Petrov de Tyrtov (Роман
Петрович Тыртов) in
Russian Empire in a very distinguished family with roots traced
back to 1548.
His father Pyotr Ivanovich de Tyrtov was a Fleet Admiral. In 1910-1912
Romain moved to Paris
to pursue a career as a designer. This decision was made over strong
objections of his father, who wanted Romain to continue a family
tradition and to become a naval officer. Romain assumed the pseudonym
to avoid disgracing the family. In 1915 he
got his first significant contract with
Harper's Bazaar magazine, and he went on to an illustrious career
that included designing costumes and stage sets.
Erté is perhaps most famous for his
elegant fashion designs which capture the art
deco period in which he worked. His delicate figures and
sophisticated, glamorous designs are instantly recognizable, and his
ideas and art influence fashion into the 21st century. His costumes
and sets were featured in the
Ziegfeld Follies of 1923, many productions of the
Folies Bergère, and
George White's Scandals. In 1925,
Louis B. Mayer brought him to Hollywood to design sets and
costumes for a film called Paris.
There were many script problems so Erte was given other assignments to
keep him busy. He designed for such films as
Ben-Hur, The Mystic,
Time, the Comedian,
By far his best known image is
Symphony in Black,
depicting a tall, slender woman draped in black holding a thin black
dog. The influential image has been reproduced and copied countless
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 art to wear. Museums around the world purchased
dozens of his paintings for their collections.
A sizeable collection of work by Erté
can be found at Museum 1999 in Tokyo.
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