Romain de Tirtoff (1892 – 1990) was a Russian-born French artist and designer known by the pseudonym Erté, from the French pronunciation of his initials. He was a 20th-century artist and designer in an array of fields, including fashion, jewellery, graphic arts, costume and set design for film, theatre, and opera, and interior decor.
In 1907, he lived one year in Paris. He said about this time “I did not discover Beardsley until when I had already been in Paris for a year”.
Demoiselle à la balancelle is one of Erté’s first sculptures, if not the first; it was made in 1907, at the age of 15 years, during a stay in Paris. This work is less precise than his other sculptures, but still Art Nouveau. Erté considered this so minor and uninteresting that it does not appear in his official biography, but the cartouche on the back indicates ‘ERTE PARIS 1907’, in a triangle.
In 1910–12, Romain moved to Paris to pursue a career as a designer. In Paris he lived with Prince Nicolas Ouroussoff up until the prince’s death in 1933. The decision to move to Paris was made despite strong objections from his father, who wanted Romain to continue the family tradition and become a naval officer. Romain assumed his pseudonym to avoid disgracing the family. He worked for Paul Poiret from 1913 to 1914. In 1915, he secured his first substantial contract with Harper’s Bazaar magazine, and thus launched an illustrious career that included designing costumes and stage sets. During this time, Erte designed costumes for the Mata Hari.
Between 1915 and 1937, Erté designed over 200 covers for Harper’s Bazaar, and his illustrations would also appear in such publications as Illustrated London News, Cosmopolitan, Ladies’ Home Journal, and Vogue.
Some of his artworks show subtile hints towards bondage or bdsm, which makes him a very good artist to add to this site.