Erte was born on this day in 1892

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ERTE (air-TAY)

Russian-born French designer and illustrator

Common clues: Folies Bergere designer; One-named artist; Romain de Tirtoff, familiarly; Harper's Bazaar illustrator; Art Deco artist; Ziegfeld Follies costume designer

Crossword puzzle frequency: 9 times a year

Video: Erte (clip)

I have always loved working at night. No one interrupts me. No telephone calls disturb my train of thought. I feel I have unlimited time. One bright lamp (its bluish light helps me to see the true colors) illuminates the drawing on which I am working. ~ Erte

Romain de Tirtoff (pseudonym Erté, a French pronunciation of initials R.T.) (November 23, 1892 - 1990) was a French artist and designer. Tirtoff was born as Roman Petrovich Tyrtov in St. Petersburg, Russian Empire in a very distinguished family with roots traced back to 1548. His father Pyotr Ivanovich Tyrtov was a Fleet Admiral. In 1910-1912 Romain gradually moved to Paris to pursue a career of a designer. This decision was made over strong objections of his father, who wanted Romain to continue a family tradition and to become a marine officer. Romain assumed the pseudonym to avoid disgracing the family. In 1915 he got his first significant contract with Harper's Bazaar magazine.

Erté is perhaps most famous for his elegant fashion designs which capture the art deco period in which he worked. One of his earliest successes was designing apparel for the French dancer Gaby Deslys who died in 1920. His delicate figures and sophisticated, glamorous designs are instantly recognisable, and his ideas and art still influence fashion into the 21st century. His costumes, programme designs, and sets were featured in the Ziegfeld Follies of 1923, many productions of the Folies Bergère, and George White's Scandals. On Broadway, the celebrated French chanteuse Irène Bordoni wore Erté's designs.

In 1925, Louis B. Mayer brought him to Hollywood to design sets and costumes for the silent film Paris. There were many script problems, so Erté was given other assignments to keep him busy. Hence, he designed for such films as Ben-Hur, The Mystic, Time, The Comedian, and Dance Madness. In 1920 he designed the set and costumes for the movie Restless Sex starring Marion Davies and financed by William Randolph Hearst.

By far his best known image is Symphony in Black, depicting a tall, slender woman draped in black holding a thin black dog. The influential image has been reproduced and copied countless times.

Erté continued working throughout his life, designing revues, ballets, and operas. He had a major rejuvenation and much lauded interest in his career during the 1960s with the Art Deco revival. He branched out into the realm of limited edition prints, bronzes, and wearable art.

His work may be found in the collections of several well-known museums, including the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art and a sizable collection of work by Erté can be found at Museum 1999 in Tokyo.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Romain de Tirtoff".