A Petite Biography of artist Romain De’ Tirtoff, also known as ERTÉ.
ERTÉ was born in Imperial St. Petersburg, Russia, in the year 1892. His family had a long and distinguished history as officers in the Russian Royal Navy. His given name was Romain De-Tirtoff, but he adopted the title Erté later as a young man in Paris, after hearing the French pronunciation of his initials, R.T.
As a young child, he preferred solitude, quiet, and beautiful things. He did not enjoy the rough games of his schoolmates. Growing up, the Russian cultural scene fed his imagination and exposed him to the very best of everything he loved - Theater, Pageantry, Beauty and Refinement.
In 1912, at age 19, Erté moved to Paris, where his unique talents for design and fashion were recognized at once by the city's most established couturiers. World-famous designer Paul Poiret quickly retained Erté to work for his fashion house.
A few years Later, in an amazing collaboration that lasted for over 21 years, Erté began to work for the magazine Harper's Bazaar, as the artist responsible for designing the magazines covers. The high visibility of the periodical, with its' tremendous circulation and its' wide, cultured audience, gave Ertés work many, many years of mainstream exposure. Designing artwork for the magazine not only gave Erté worldwide recognition for his work, but it also allowed him the time and forum to develop his own personal artistic style. This style has influenced generations of artists, and has even changed the face of modern art & design. The artistic style that Erté created eventually became known as ART DECO.
It is said that the young Erté designed his first costume before he was even 10 Years old. Throughout his long and illustrious career, Erté designed amazing theater sets and outrageous costumes for innumerable operas, stage-shows, and films. In fact, many of the era's most renowned screen-actors and actresses regularly sought Erté to produce magnificent original fashions and flamboyant costume designs for their productions.
"The latest Fashion- what a cruel tyrant!"...
All his life, Erté considered himself a Fashion Peacock who thought nothing of wearing plum-colored suits with butterfly ties when he went out to dinner. He railed against the 'boring, unimaginative' restrictions of men's dress.
“Why should women have all the fun and the men look no better than well-dressed waiters?”
- Erté was once heard to ask. On one occasion, at the Paris Opera Ball in 1926, he arrived wearing a gold lamé toreador suit and a cape lined with fresh red roses, which he then scattered to members of the audience as he approached his seat...
Amazingly, at an age when most people have already retired, he continued to create and produce his unique art. At age 75, Erté, encouraged by a lifetime of international success and recognition, embarked on a new direction. He began to recreate many of the remarkable designs of his youth. He did this in several mediums including bronze, jewelry, and serigraphy.
Ertés technical skill, his capability for innovation, his devotion to his craft influenced not only the worlds of theater, film and fashion, but an entire art movement as well. (Art Deco Movement in 1920's)
Alas, the time finely came when the artist Romain De-Tirtoff, better known as Erté, left us forever. He passed away in the year 1990. He age was 97. Those who knew and loved him will miss his passion for life and for the art he created. Those of us who only knew his art and works will miss him, as well.
His legendary career spanned nearly his entire life.
Erté was a charming old-world raconteur with an infectious joie de vivre. He was a small, slight man, with a soft voice and gentleman's bearing, but nonetheless, he became a giant in the world of art.
The designs created by Erté during his long and illustrious life are considered among the most influential and unique works of the 20Th century. His original designs grace the permanent collections of prestigious museums and private owners throughout the World.
Ertés works will continue to enrich our lives, define our style, and inspire future generations of artists and designers who may look to the past in an effort to define the future.