About the Work
"Motherhood" is a 19 x 8 x 7 - inch sculpture, cast in bronze and stamped with Erte's signature of approval
The statue is familiar, relative and far removed from Erté’s elaborate costume designs. It is the relative quality of the image - that part of Motherhood that speaks to a different side of a woman that strikes a chord with the viewer. This very personal sculpture is also available in a serigraph.
Though Erté’s imagery generally appeals to a sense of fantasy, Erté designed for the stage and the stage often mirrors life. It was 1924 when Erté created the original costume design for "Motherhood". His genius was inspired by the play Les Idoles, performed at the Theatre Sarah Bernhardt in Paris. It was for the character of "mother" in this play that the costume was created. And it is this inspiration from which the sculpture and the serigraph were rendered.
Just as Erté’s more opulent work speaks to our desire of fantasy, Motherhood speaks to a more practical, more compelling aspect of humanity, one with which we more easily relate. The design embodies a mixture of wit, charm, and fantasy. "Motherhood" exudes playfulness, discipline or the lack thereof, and gentle authority. The children remain close to their mother's skirt and each personality is distinctly expressed. One child is subdued and introspective while the other is more gregarious and mischievous. The mother is the dominant figure that radiates a calming and comforting element to the composition.
In keeping with Erté's sense of style and grace, "Motherhood" represents a different side of Erté's sensibility. The bronze represents woman's beauty and elegance, though in a different, but equally compelling manner to the balance of the artist's work.
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.