Russian-born French designer and one of the leading exponents of the Art Deco style of the 1920s and 1930s. He was made a Chevalier du Mérite Artistique et Cultural in 1970 and an Officier des Arts et Lettres in 1976.
Romain de Tirtoff was born in St Petersburg into an aristocratic family. He graduated from Kronstadt College, St Petersburg, in 1911 and enrolled as an art student at the Académie Julian in Paris in 1912. Taking his professional name from the French pronunciation of his initials, Erté began designing clothes for a leading Paris couturier, Paul Poiret, and was soon creating theatrical costumes and stage sets, including designs for the Folies-Bergère. During World War I Erté illustrations began appearing regularly in US magazines, notably Harper's Bazaar, and their creator became internationally famous. Broadway shows of the 1920s, including the Ziegfeld Follies and George White's Scandals, employed elaborate tableaux vivants designed by Erté, who also worked for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer on such films as Ben Hur (1925) and La Bohème (1926). During the 1920s and early 1930s his work extended into book illustration, interior design, fabrics, and household items. 1944 saw his first operatic set for a production of Donizetti's Don Pasquale and later work included the design for Glyndebourne's Der Rosenkavalier (1980). Erté's metal and wood sculptures were given their first exhibition in Paris in 1964 and in 1968 he showed the first of a series of lithographs. A major retrospective of his work was staged at the Grosvenor Gallery, New York, in 1967. His book, Things I Remember: An Autobiography, was published in 1975.
Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).