Behind the Artist: Romain de Tirtoff (Erté)

Fashion, architecture, theatre, and art. In 2017, the study and intrigue of these cultural foundations can be traced back to one man: Romain de Tirtoff, or Erté.

Until recent history, the very notion of leisure and non-utilitarian possessions were only reserved for the privileged. When 18th-century industrialism gave rise to a working class, art and culture rose. This population redefined the definitions of taste and luxury in a cultural renaissance.

Charleston Couple Erte Park West Gallery

“Charleston Couple” (1980), Erte

Fast-forward to the early 1900s, where the spirit of Modernity prospered, manifested by larger-than-life architecture, theatre districts, and daring artistic conventions. It is here where illustrator and designer Erté flourished.

Using the past as a precedent, the Russian-born artist helped establish the principles of contemporary design, fashion, publishing, and theatre throughout Paris, New York City, and Hollywood.

Erte Park West Gallery


Historically regarded as one of the founders of the Art Deco movement, Erté set the visual pace of the 20th century and solidified the interdependency of art and culture.

For more insight on Erté — the Art Deco imaginary —below are three details that highlight his artistic practice.


Abstraction for the Ages

Lafayette Erte Park West Gallery

“Lafayette” (1979), Erte

There is something inherently modern about Erté’s aesthetic, exemplified in illustration, gouache painting, serigraphy, and sculpture.

Although the artist’s feminine figures exude an unrestrained sense of confidence and spectacle, they aren’t wholly representational of a woman at any one time or place. His women, tangled in costume, don’t speak for themselves but rather for the sensibility of an industrial, cross-cultural, and fearless era.

Blossom Umbrella Erte Park West Gallery

“Blossom Umbrella” (1979), Erte

Characterized by sharp, geometric lines and flat, stencil-like imagery, Erté’s compositions are subtly reminiscent of ancient Greek figure pottery and Edo-period Japanese woodblock prints, revealing that modernity is not beside history, but part and parcel to it.


Lights, Camera, Fashion!

Erté moved to Paris in 1912 at the age of 19 to study art and fashion, and soon sourced a cosmopolitan influence of his own.

The young artist began his esteemed career under one of the most respected Parisian couturiers at the time: Paul Poiret, whose influence in the fashion industry is likened to Pablo Picasso’s legacy as a painter. This tutelage eventually led Erté to become the premiere costume designer at the Folies-Bergère, a historic Parisian opera house.

Hera Erte Park West Gallery

“Hera” (1981), Erte

Aside from pioneering the fashions of unisex clothing, asymmetrical hemlines, and tailored professional-wear, Erté also held a stake in modern publishing.  Erté worked for the fashion authority, “Harper’s Bazaar” for 22 years and designed more than 240 magazine covers.


From the Museum to You 

As Erté’s celebrity grew, so did his audience, as well as a keen demand for his original paintings and illustrations. Erté began to publish limited-edition serigraphs, lithographs, and bronze sculptures, which are offered for purchase by Park West Gallery.

Selection of a Heart Erte Park West Gallery

“Selection of a Heart” (1978), Erte

Erté’s work can be found in the permanent collections of several, world-renowned museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art , the Tokyo National Museum, and the Smithsonian Institution.

From June 21, 2016 to September 19, 2016 the historic State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia featured the exhibition, “Erte: An Art Deco Genius.”

For more biographical information about the artist or to add a historic Erté to your collection, contact our gallery consultants at (800) 521-9654 ext. 4 or

Leave a comment

Prove you\'re human. *

Latest News

  • How Marc Chagall Came to Illustrate One of the Greatest Love Stories of...

    Bob Dylan once said that “passion is a young man’s game,” but over 60 years ago, at the age of 55, famed artist Marc Chagall illustrated one of the ...
    Read More
  • Why We Love Buying Art on Cruise Ships: Confessions of an Art Enthusiast...

    After entering their first cruise ship art auction, this couple has never looked back.Don and Tina Tritton almost missed the boat. While their ship was docked in Ketchikan during a ...
    Read More
  • The Story Behind Anatoly Metlan’s Flamenco Dancers

    Grace, poise, energy—these are the qualities one finds in skilled dancers around the world, and are almost impossible to capture in a work of art.Almost.While historically known for his beautiful ...
    Read More
  • Collect Unique Romero Britto Artwork During Our Limited-Time Sale

    Chances are you’ve seen Romero Britto’s instantly recognizable style during your travels, but odds are you’ve never seen this many unique Britto paintings in one place.Park West Gallery just ...
    Read More
  • Enjoy Art Auctions Aboard the World’s Largest Cruise Ship: Symphony of the Seas

    If you’re a fan of Royal Caribbean art auctions, something big is on the horizon.This April marks the maiden voyage of Royal Caribbean International’s newest ship, Symphony of the ...
    Read More
  • Daniel Wall Follows His Heart in His New Spring Collection

    Spring is that special time when flowers bloom and love is in the air, and artist Daniel Wall is one of the rare artists who can uniquely capture the ...
    Read More
  • Dominic Pangborn to Showcase Art at 2018 Winter Paralympics

    Not long after enjoying the Olympics in his native country of South Korea, artist Dominic Pangborn received an unexpected phone call from 2018 Paralympics officials.“They had talked about doing ...
    Read More
  • Auctioneer Spotlight: Lucy Orbell

    Many Park West collectors develop lasting friendships with our art teams, underscoring our 49-year reputation of connecting people from all walks of life with artwork they love.Here’s a chance to ...
    Read More
  • Music Legend Gary Puckett Transforms Park West VIP Events Into Concerts to Remember

    When you attend a Park West auction, you never know who you’re going to meet. You might meet fellow art lovers, your favorite artist, or—if you’re lucky—you might meet a ...
    Read More
  • The Surrealistic Art of Peter Max: How His Style Made Him an Art...

    Peter Max is ...
    Read More
  • Park West and Scott Jacobs Help Raise Funds for Young Musicians

    When Park West Gallery teams up with its artists for a good cause, they make great music together.Park West Gallery helped raise $7,000 for the Amelia Island Jazz Festival’s music ...
    Read More
  • 5 Facts You May Not Know About Yaacov Agam

    Israeli artist Yaacov Agam is a groundbreaking pioneer of the kinetic art movement. As such, art lovers around the world are familiar with his transformative artwork and art installations ...
    Read More