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About the WorkThis image was inspired by the dress Erté designed for the Spanish soprano Lucrezia Bori for a 1927 performance of "Pelleas et Melisande" by the New York Metropolitan Opera. Her career at the Metropolitan Opera began during the 1910s and lasted until 1936. The costume and set design were repeated for a 1952 performance at the Teatro San Carlo in Naples, Italy.
The plot of "Pelleas et Melisande" concerns a love triangle. Prince Golaud finds a mysterious young woman, Melisande, lost in a forest. He marries her and brings her back to the castle of his grandfather, King Arkel of Allemande. Here Melisande becomes increasingly attached to Golaud's younger half brother Pelleas, arousing Golaud's jealousy. Golaud goes to excessive lengths to find out the truth about Pelleas and Melisande's relationship, even forcing his own child, Yniold, to spy on the couple. Pelleas decides to leave the castle but arranges to meet Melisande one last time and the two finally confess their love for one another. Golaud, who has been eavesdropping, rushes out and kills Pelleas. Melisande dies shortly after, having given birth to a daughter, with Golaud still begging her to tell him "the truth".
About the Artist
Erté was born Romain de Tirtoff in St. Petersburg, Russia on November 23rd, 1892 and was raised amidst Russia's social elite. At the age of five he created an evening gown for his mother and managed to persuade the adults to craft it, they were astounded by the results. In 1912, Romain left St. Petersburg for Paris at the age of nineteen with the aim of becoming an artist. After working with Paul " Le Magnifique" Poiret on several theatrical productions Romain, still under the pseudonym of Erte, began to work more independently. He hand-crafted original costume and fashion designs for many of the era’s most renowned actresses, including Joan Crawford, Lillian Gish, Marion Davies, Anna Pavlova, Norma Shearer, and others. His masterpieces for the stage included extravagant production designs at venues such as New York’s Radio City Music Hall, the Casino de Paris, and the Paris Opera. In 1915 he began his long professional relationship with Harper's Bazaar and created 240 covers for the esteemed magazine. For 6 months in 1916, Erté simultaneously worked with Vogue as well. As a result of his highly publicized success, Erté would later be called the father of the ‘Art Deco’ movement.