Erté (French, 1892–1990) is a designer and sculptor born in St. Petersburg, Russia, on November 23, 1892. Erté is a pseudonym for Romain de Tirtoff, and is the French pronunciation of the artist’s initials, R.T. He came from a distinguished Russian family, and his father served as an admiral in the Russian fleet. The artist moved to Paris, France, in 1912, and changed his name from Romain to Erté to avoid embarrassing his family, who wished that he would follow in his father's footsteps.
Erté worked for fashion designer Paul Poiret (French, 1879–1944) from 1913 to 1914. In 1915, he landed a contract with Harper's Bazaar, illustrating and designing covers. Throughout his lifetime, the artist designed over 240 covers for that magazine. He was most famous for his fashion designs and was often called "The Father of Art Deco." He was also a costume and set designer, and some of the most notable silent films he worked on included Paris, Ben Hur, and Dance Madness. His most famous image is Symphony in Black, a serigraph of a woman wearing black holding a black dog. Other works include Lust and Pink Lady. During the 1940s and the 1950s, the artist fell into relative obscurity.
Then, in the 1960s, there was an increased interest in Erté’s work, and, in response, he created a series of sculptures and lithographs that revived the Art Deco movement. In 1970, the French government awarded him the title of Chevalier du Mérite, Artistique et Culturel. In 1976, he was awarded the title of Officer of Arts and Letters by the French government. In 1982, he received the Medaille de Vermeil de la Ville de Paris. His exhibitions include those held at the Knoedler Gallery in New York, NY, in 1920, the Galleria Milano in Milan, Italy, in 1965, and the Shiseido Gallery in Tokyo, Japan, in 1976. His work is included in the collections at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, England, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and Museum 1999 in Tokyo, Japan. Erté died on April 21, 1990, in Paris, France, at the age of 97.