Best known by his pseudonym “Erte,” Roman de Tirtoff was a talented artist and designer. He was Russian-born but became a French resident in 1910 to pursue his artistic passions. The pseudonym “Erte” was derived from the French pronunciation of Roman de Tirtoff’s initials. Erte’s talents were highly versatile, and he used his skills to design fashion, film sets, theatres, and interior decor. He captivated audiences with his elegant vision and embodied the themes of the art deco movement in all of his work. Erte was an iconic figure of the 20th century, influencing the artistic expression of the new age.
Early Life and Career Milestones
On November 23, 1892, Roman de Tirtoff was born in Saint Petersburg, Russia. His father was a respected admiral in the Russian Fleet. At the age of 15, during a brief stay in Paris, he created his first sculpture titled “Demoiselle à la balancelle.” By the year 1910, Roman moved to Paris to follow his passions for art and design. Unfortunately, his family strongly disapproved of his artistic career aspirations. To protect his family name, Roman adopted the famous pseudonym “Erte.”
By 1915, Erte’s career took off when he secured a design position with Harper’s Bazaar magazine. He illustrated over 200 Harper’s Bazaar covers, and even designed costumes and stage sets. In addition to Harper’s Bazaar, his illustrations were featured in popular publications, including Vogue, Ladies’ Home Journal, Cosmopolitan, and The Illustrated London News. The art deco movement held a significant influence on his interior decor and fashion design. From the Metropolitan Museum of Art to the Victoria and Albert Museum, Erte’s design collections are showcased worldwide.
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