Original Erté Alphabet Paintings to be Exhibited.


Greenwich, CT – The famed “Alphabet Suite” by Erté – the original gouache paintings - is poised to make its first appearance ever in the United States. These paintings, recently on loan to the Centre Pompidou Museum in Paris, depict each letter of the alphabet in true Erté style. Using the human form in various states of déshabille, various poses and props are illustrated to create the letters of the alphabet. These artworks, which Erté began in 1927, were later printed as a suite of limited edition prints. The prints were an immediate success upon their release in 1977 and are now extremely rare as a complete set.

The paintings are headed for a very special Erté event at the Martin Lawrence Galleries location on Rodeo Drive, in Beverly Hills, CA. An opening reception featuring these exceptional artworks and hundreds of other prints, sculpture, jewelry, and Erté memorabilia will be held on Saturday, November 22, from 6:30 to 9 pm. Los Angeles will be abuzz with all things Erté, as an exhibit at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, “Erté—Opera & Ballets Russes”, opens on December 14. Featured in this exhibition are 30 spectacular couture costumes created for opera singer Ganna Walska by Erté.

Regarding the original gouache suite, Erté says (in Erté at Ninety – The Complete Graphics), “I started to work on the series of Alphabet paintings in 1927, after a very successful exhibition at the Galerie Charpentier in Paris. This gallery proposed another exhibition two years later for which I had planned to complete The Alphabet. Unfortunately, I was much too optimistic. I had not realized how much other work I would have to do at the same time. There was my contract with Harper’s Bazaar…and for the theater” (working on three major spectacular productions in two years as well as the usual tableaux for the Folies-Bergére and several operas). “The result was that in 1929, when my second exhibition opened, The Alphabet had not made much progress. From then on, little by little, I did complete one or two letters between various urgent commissions, but it was only forty years later that I finished the set. In 1967 (I was asked to) exhibit The Alphabet at an Erté show in London. This time I was ready—or at least I thought I was. While preparing to send the pictures to London, I suddenly noticed to my astonishment that one letter was missing in the series; it was the letter “L”. I began to paint it immediately and completed it just in time for the show. As it turned out, this letter became the most successful of all in the eyes of the public.”

Images of the remaining available prints of this popular suite can be viewed here.

Chalk & Vermilion Fine Arts, one of America’s foremost publishers of contemporary fine art prints and sculpture, publishes the works of Erté as well as a number of today’s most popular artists, such as Fanny Brennan, Erté, Kerry Hallam, Liudmila Kondakova, Thomas McKnight, and Bruce Ricker.


For further information:
Maria Saraceno Ward
(203) 869-9500, ex.248

backback to top

Copyright ©2005 Chalk & Vermilion Fine Arts. All rights reserved.