London, South Kensington
6 December 2002
'ERTÉ'. A costume design for the actor Paul Bernard in the character of Joffroy Rudel in La Princesse Lointaine, 1929, in gouache heightened with gold and silver, signed 'Erté', the verso further inscribed 'No. 1613 , La Princesse Lointaine. , Joffroy Rudel. , IX-1929' and with studio inkstamps, 275 x 375mm, framed and glazed. Provenance: Grosvenor Gallery, London (label on backboard of frame).
ONE OF ERTé'S MOST CELEBRATED STAGE DESIGNS: 'The press was full of praise for the sets and costumes of La Princesse Lointaine. The design for the galley [...] was hailed as a masterpiece; the palace of Mélissande was said to evoke a profound and picturesque atmosphere, that of a past filled with dreams; and the final scene, the arrival of the Princess's ship, was described as enchanting' (Erté Things I Remember (London: 1975), p.98). Edmond Rostand's La Princesse Lointaine was first produced in 1895, and was later revised by Rostand; the author wished Sarah Bernhardt to take the role of Joffroy Rudel, but following the amputation of the actress's leg, Rostand re-wrote the play, so that Bernhardt's character could remain upon a couch throughout the production. However, casting and financial problems -- together with the outbreak of the Great War -- meant that the revised version was not performed until this production at the Théâtre Sarah Bernhardt in 1929. This design is for the role of the troubadour-hero Joffroy Rudel who falls in love with the eponymous princess, and was acted in the 1929 production by Paul Bernard.
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