Tamara de Lempicka (1898-1980)

La chemise rose I

Tamara de Lempicka (1898-1980)
La chemise rose I
signed 'DE. LEMPICKA' (upper right)
oil on panel
16 1/8 x 12¾ in. (41.1 x 32.5 cm.)
Painted circa 1927
Private collection (1975).
George Mathysen-Gerst, New York (1980).
Private collection (1984).
Private collection, New York (1995).
U. Habrecht and A. Grosskopf, "Sirene im Reich der Sinne," Stern Magazine, 18 February 1982, p. 141 (illustrated).
E. Thormann, Tamara de Lempicka, Berlin, 1993, no. 59.
A. Blondel, Tamara de Lempicka: Catalogue raisonné 1921-1979, Lausanne, 1999, p. 170, no. B.93 (illustrated in color, p. 171).
Rome, Accademia di Francia, Villa Medici and Montreal, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Tamara de Lempicka: tra eleganza e trasgressione, February-October 1994, p. 63, no. 42 (illustrated).

Lot Essay

A model with hazel eyes, a thin oval face, black hair with reddish highlights and shapely scarlet lips appears more frequently than any other in Lempicka's paintings during the course of the ten year period from 1922 to 1932. She is Ira Perrot, a young married woman who was the artist's closest female friend. Lempicka painted a portrait of Mme Perrot in a blue dress (Blondel, no. B.7), which she exhibited at the 1922 Salon d'Automne. The artist featured her friend in the two versions of La Chemise rose, the first of which is the present painting. In the second, more decorous version, executed in 1928 (B.105), the artist obscured her breasts under the band of sheer lace that borders the neckline of her chemise. Mme Perrot also appears as the beautiful nursing mother in Maternité, 1928 (B. 106); holding a mandoline as La Musicienne, 1929 (B. 117); and again seductively revealing a nipple in La convalescente, 1932 (B.160). Mme Perrot's features may be detected in some of the artist's paintings of nudes, as in the reclining figure at lower right in the Ingresque Femmes au bain, 1929 (B.120). Ira Perrot is the subject of one of Lempicka's most impressive large portraits, Portrait de Ira P., 1930 (B. 143; see lot 26, fig. 4).

Laura Claridge has written that Alexander Chodkieweitz, an acquaintance of the artist during the early 1920s, recalled to her how "Tamara spoke almost worshipfully of Perrot's lithe figure and beautiful full breasts" (in Tamara de Lempicka: A Life of Deco and Decadence, New York, 1999, p.121). During the early 1930s, Lempicka and Ira Perrot became estranged, and never saw each other again. Claridge went on to state:

"Kizette [the artist's daughter] has at times acknowledged that the two women were lovers, though she sometimes insists 'they were best friends, nothing more.' But no friend or family member, including Kizette, appears as often in Tamara's paintings as Ira does. After Tadeusz [Lempicka's first husband, whom she divorced in 1931], Ira Perrot was possibly the major romantic attachment of Tamara's life. The depression that Tamara battled episodically over the next years, and which nearly bankrupted her emotionally by 1935, was sure aggravated by the loss of Ira during the same period that Tadeusz departed" (ibid., p. 174).


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