Erté.

No secret, I am a big fan of the artwork of Romain de Tirtoff, better known as Erté.

I first got to know Erté (that’s how his initials, RT, are pronounced if you’re French) from old Dover Publications  graphics and paper doll books. For a measly $3.95 I could immerse myself in his fantastically exaggerated and feminine-centric world.

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Erté is sometimes called “the man who invented art deco”, although not very often. He’s best known as a costume designer, illustrator, and cover artist for Harper’s Bazaar.

My late mother developed an expensive lithograph-buying habit. I urged her to spend her dollars on Erté. Our tastes sometimes differed, though. I had to nag her into buying this one (Mélisande):

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I am lucky enough to own five of those lithographs, and they make me smile whenever I look at them. Erté’s world is one where every woman is a temptress and no dress is too outrageous. His women are bold and graceful and fully themselves in every way. (He rarely painted men, and when he did, they’re rather androgynous).

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Seriously, is there any more potent and thrilling image of a female? I struggle to think of one.

I’ll be posting Ertés whenever there’s nothing on my mind.

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