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Erté

Sonnabend Gallery

Erté—the pseudonym of Romain de Tirtoff—is a transcription of the French pronunciation of his initials. Erté, Russian-born, but in Paris from 1910 on, at length came to dominate the characteristically bourgeois expressions of the arts of patronage—theatre, ballet, opera, spectacles of all kinds—particularly in the period between the two wars.

The ultimate source of Erté’s work is Beardsley, whose drawings Erié studied as a young man in prerevolutionary St. Petersburg, when, after 1905, The Society of the World of Art, Mir Isskustva, then directed by Sergei Diaghilev, began to exhibit advanced taste of a so-called decadent persuasion—Whistler, Beardsley, Lalique, Tiffany, Scottish Art Nouveau. Erté was never to surpass Beardsley’s illustrations for Salomé but he was going to shift the vernacular of Beardsley from that of the intelligentsia to that of the striving bourgeoisie. That Erté was

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