Rudolph Valentino  Monsieur Beaucaire, 1924
Rudolph Valentino Monsieur Beaucaire, 1924

Rudolph Valentino Monsieur Beaucaire, 1924
Natacha Rambova [Valentino] (1897-1966)
An extremely rare
mixed media costume sketch for Rudolph Valentino in the Paramount Productions' film Monsieur Beaucaire, 1924, the drawing showing Rambova's fine design of a French court suit for the character the "Duke de Chartres", signed twice, N. Rambova 1923 in black ink and Natacha Valentino in black ink [Rambova assumed the name Valentino in 1923 after her marriage to Rudolph Valentino]; additionally inscribed to reverse, in pencil Monsieur Beaucaire NY -- 10x14in. (25.5x35.5cm.); accompanied by a black and white still from the film of Valentino in a similar costume [later printing] (2)
MORRIS, Michael Madam Valentino The Many Lives of Natacha Rambova Abbeville Press: New York, 1991 pp. 66, 69, 89-91
SCHOUVALOFF, Alexander Bozzetti di Scena e Costumi Sotheby's Publications, 1987 pp. 129-133

Lot Essay

Natacha Rambova, born in Utah with the name Winifred Shaughnessy, was first exposed to the world of theatre and dance when she fell in love with and married the Russian dancer Theodor Kosloff, after being sent away by her family for a proper education. Ultimately Kosloff, after touring the US with the Imperial Russian ballet, would be employed by Cecil B. de Mille, which in turn gave the renamed Rambova an introduction into the world of film, working as a costume designer on productions such as The Woman God Forgot, 1917 and Forbidden Fruit, 1921.

After leaving Kosloff, due to his infidelity, she would further develop her extraordinary career as an innovative costume and set designer, initially working with Alla Nazimova, on the film production of the Broadway play Aphrodite, but unfortunately production was not completed. Rambova would continue to work for Nazimova, as Art Director on her films Camille, 1921 and Salome, 1922, where her elaborate designs were derived or influenced by the risqué illustrations of Aubrey Beardsley. It was during the filming of Camille, through designing costumes for Rudolph Valentino that a personal relationship developed, resulting in their marriage, and in her changing her name to Natacha Valentino, before relocating to mainland Europe. They would return to the USA in 1924 to begin filming, at Paramount's New York studios, Monsieur Beaucaire. In conjunction with George Barbier, whom they had met in Paris, Rambova would be responsible for all costume designs. Drawing from her previous designs produced for Forbidden Fruit, she once again showed a good working knowledge of French historical costumes. Rambova is documented as having produced over sixty costumes for the film, each incorporating costly silks, satins, velvets and fine lace, whilst over 300 costumes were made in Paris, at a price of 1.000.000 Francs.

After Monsieur Beaucaire Valentino would sign a contract with United Artists explicitly excluding his wife from participation in his films. Subsequently Natacha left her husband, bringing an end to their stormy marriage, although they were reconciled shortly before his untimely death in 1926. Natacha would move on to reinvent herself as a successful playwright and actress before becoming, amongst other things, a distinguished Egyptologist, but she will ultimately be remembered as the woman who created 'Valentino'.

More from Popular Culture: Film and Entertainment

View All
View All