A Russian-born French artist known by the pseudonym Erté, Romain de Tirtoff was a diversely talented 20th century designer known for his glamorous sets for opera, theatre, and film, as well as his bronze sculptures, graphic arts, and jewelry.
His work exemplifies Art Deco style in its use of simplified ornamentation and tapering lines influenced by the natural world. Erté’s esteemed career spanned over 80 years and crossed over numerous media.
Erté was born to an aristocratic family in 1892 in Saint Petersburg, Russia. He moved to Paris when he was 18 to pursue his career as a designer. He made this decision over the strong objections of his father, who wanted the son to continue the family tradition of being a naval officer. Therefore, he embraced the name Erté, from the French pronunciation of the artist’s initials, to avoid disgracing his family.
After working in collaboration with fashion designer Paul Poiret for a few years, Erté was hired in 1915 by Harper’s Bazaar to illustrate and design covers. The artist would go on to create more than 240 covers for that magazine. Erté’s illustrations would also appear in several publications such as Vogue, Ladies’ Home Journal, Cosmopolitan, and Illustrated London News.
Beyond his illustration work, Erté launched a career in staging sets and designing costumes. He designed apparel for Gaby Deslys, the French dancer, and designed sets and costumes for some of the most notable films such as Ben-Hur, The Mystic, Time, and The Comedian. Erté’s sets, costumes, and program designs were featured in other productions as well, including Théâtre Fémina, Bal Tabarin, Folies Bergère, George White’s Scandals, and Le Lido. He created set designs for New York’s Radio City Music Hall, the Casino de Paris, and the Paris Opera.
In addition, Erté pioneered metal sculptures with oil pigments in 1960, which he called Formes Pictorials. He continued working throughout his life designing operas, ballets, and revues, even while branching out into the domain of limited edition wearable art, bronzes, and prints.
Erté was awarded the title of Chevalier du Mérite Artistique et Cultural in 1970. He was awarded the title of Officer of Arts and Letters by the French government in 1976, and won the title of Medaille de Vermeil de la Ville de Paris in 1982. Some of his original work is held by renowned museums across the globe, including the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Los Angeles County Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Erté is often referred to as one of the co-founders of Art Deco. He defined Art Deco as the fusion of Art Nouveau’s curvilinear designs of the 19th century with the Constructivist, Cubist, and geometrical designs of modernism.
Erté is most well known for his prints from fashion magazines and his set and costume design. He is also well known for his Art Deco revival bronzes which were made later in his life. These sculptures mostly feature models of women in early 20th-century fashion.
There is a growing market for Erté’s work, particularly his bronzes, which were made later in his life. His bronzes can be sold for up to $8,000 and, on average, are sold for several thousand dollars. His bronzes of fashionable women are typically the most popular on the market.
Some of the most valuable objects of Erté’s are original or early prints and his sculptures, which gave life to his clothing designs. Premium quality art prints from his lifetime can fetch thousands of dollars. His serigraphs don’t always command high prices, especially when they have imperfections. But they are worth the trouble to frame or buy or sell for those who love Erté’s artwork.
Appraise and Sell Erté’s Artwork
If you have any piece of art from Erté, including his bronze sculptures, paintings, interior décor, and graphic art, get in touch with our experts at Revere Auctions. If you would like to sell your works of Erté, you can auction them at our location in St. Paul, Minnesota. We also offer our services online.
You can contact us anytime for a free auction estimate if you want to sell Erté’s artwork. We have a very simple process. After you send us the photos of the work, our experts will take a look, analyze, and provide you an estimate of the amount the artwork is likely to reach at auction.
If you need an appraisal for Erté’s work, we provide a certified appraisal report that can be used for estate taxes, donations, and insurance coverage. Our appraisals are compliant with Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice and are accepted by insurance companies, charity agencies, and the IRS.