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Portrait d'une jeune femme en robe bleue

Portrait d'une jeune femme en robe bleue
stamped with signature 'T. DE LEMPICKA' (upper left)
oil on canvas
24 5⁄8 x 20 7⁄8 in. (62.5 x 53 cm.)
Painted in 1922
Blanche Cheyrou, France (acquired from the artist, 1925).
Barry Friedman, Ltd., New York (1993).
Acquired from the above by the late owner, March 1999.
T. de Lempicka, Annotated photo album, Lempicka Archives, Houston, 1923-1933, no. 1.
G. Mori, Tamara de Lempicka: Paris 1920-1938, Florence, 1994, p. 102, no. 3 (illustrated in color).
A. Blondel, Tamara de Lempicka: Catalogue raisonné, 1921-1979, Lausanne, 1999, p. 85, no. B.7 (illustrated in color).
(probably) Paris, Grand Palais, Salon d'Automne, 1922, no. 1544 (titled Portrait).
Rome, Villa Medici and Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Tamara de Lempicka: Elegant Transgressions, February-October 1994, p. 32, no. 1 (illustrated).
New York, Barry Friedman, Ltd., Tamara de Lempicka, October-November 1996, no. 20.
Hiroshima Museum of Arts, Tamara de Lempicka, 1997, p. 43, no. 2 (illustrated).
London, The Royal Academy of Arts, Tamara de Lempicka: Art Deco Icon, May-August 2004, no. 1.

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Lot Essay

Polish-born artist Tamara de Lempicka was drawn early on to the allure of cosmopolitan life. As a young girl in Warsaw, Poland, her grandmother, Madame Clementine, introduced her to the lavish casinos in Monte Carlo, the music of Chopin, and drawers of diamonds, rubies, and emeralds. At just 16 years of age, she fell in love with Taduesz Lempicki, a Polish Lawyer, marrying him amidst the outbreak of the First World War. So began her dream of a fantastical life as the couple emigrated to Paris ahead of the Roaring Twenties. Finding little to no work in Paris, the young Baroness, inspired by her sister’s interest in architecture, enrolled in painting classes at the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere. Shortly thereafter she began training under the guidance of André Lhote, the Post-Impressionist known for his vibrant color palette. Within a few months, Lempicka had executed nearly a dozen paintings.
During those first few years in the city, while developing her unique style, Lempicka exhibited several times at the Salon d’Automne. In the 1922 exhibition at the Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, she showcased various portraits of female sitters, probably including the present painting. Ira would go on to be the subject of many of Lempicka’s portraits as their friendship developed into something of confidence and romance for the two married women. The present work captures the delicacy of Ira’s oval face, deep-set hazel eyes, and scarlet lips, harmonized by her cobalt blue dress. The work documents Lempicka’s attempt to master her technique early on, free from the guides of formal training. However, as noted by author Gio Mori, the portrait is still linked to an almost academic pictorial rendering, clearly based on the chromatic harmony between the blue of the dress and the shading of the background, rather than on dissonance, that would come later to Lempicka. Her rise to fame in the ensuing years became heightened by the influence of French cubism and neo-classism, adding another dimension of intensity to her portraiture.

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