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    Sale 12071

    Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale

    13 May 2016, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 1293

    Tamara De Lempicka (1898-1980)

    Portrait de Madame G.

    Price Realised  


    Tamara De Lempicka (1898-1980)
    Portrait de Madame G.
    signed 'DE LEMPICKA' (lower right)
    oil on canvas
    16 ¼ x 13 in. (41.3 x 33 cm.)
    Painted circa 1930

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    During the early 1930s, Lempicka was at the height of her fame as a painter, and, at the same time, she was widely celebrated as a glamorous hostess and party-goer. The professional and social aspects of her life were inextricably intertwined; one was indispensable to the success of the other, and together enabled her to attain her own independent life-style, which was still a relatively rare achievement for a woman at that time. All of these qualities enhanced her reputation as being the leading female artist of her day. Lempicka had, in fact, become one of the most sought-after portraitists among wealthy Europeans and Americans. She could accept or refuse commissions as she saw fit. The international range of her clientele may have been even more extensive than that of Kees van Dongen, who, working in a very different style, was perhaps her chief rival for European commissions, but he had fewer American connections.
    Painted circa 1930, Portrait de Madame G. explores the theme of “eyes gazing heavenward,” a motif Lempicka returned to on several occasions between 1924 and 1937. In this highly finished painting, Madame G.–whose identity remains unknown–is depicted with upturned eyes, her face illuminated by incandescent light. Referring to the present work, Gioia Mori states that, “Her primary sources of inspiration were undoubtedly sacred paintings, and indeed the works in which she first adopted this motif have a religious theme. But later on she probably found the world of cinema offered her new models to draw on, starting with Carl Theodor Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928), in which an intense Maria Falconetti makes strong use of this pose, or Alexandre Volkoffs Casanova (1927), in which it is employed by Diana Karenne. It was a shot that was commonly used in cinema of the age, first as a physical means to express emotions that were otherwise mute, later as a form of empathic communication with the viewer, to create a poignant and engaging message” (Tamara de Lempicka, The Queen of Modernism, exh. cat., Complesso del Vittoriano, Rome, 2011, p. 23).
    The pose would often be struck outside the cinema, with numerous movie stars employing it in their press photographs, including Carole Lombard and Jeanne Harlow. De Lempicka was herself portrayed with upturned eyes and surrounded by lilies in a photograph by Camuzzi taken in 1932 (fig. 1).

    (fig. 1)
    Tamara with Lilies, 1932. Photograph by Camuzzi.


    Ira Perrot, Paris (acquired from the artist, 1934).
    Anon. sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 29 November 1985, lot 68.
    Anon. sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 25 March 2005, lot 128.
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.


    A. Blondel, Tamara de Lempicka, Catalogue raisonné, Lausanne, 1999, p. 225, no. B. 138 (illustrated in color).


    Shinjuku, Isetan Museum of Art; Hiroshima, Museum of Arts; Nagoya, Matsuzakaya Museum of Art and Osaka, Daimaru Museum of Art, Tamara de Lempicka, July-November 1997, p. 88, no. 41 (illustrated in color).
    Milan, Palazzo Reale, Tamara de Lempicka, October 2006-February 2007, no. 32.
    Rome, Complesso del Vittoriano, Tamara de Lempicka, The Queen of Modern, March-July 2011, p. 236, no. 43 (illustrated in color, p. 237).