A fabulous limited edition bronze study from Ertés Alphabet series representing the letter ‘L’. The bronze of a female figure, half woman and half feline holding a panther on the end of a golden chain, with excellent colour and very fine hand finished detail. Signed Erté, inscribed with foundry ‘M’ for the Joel Meisner Foundry, numbered 4/250 and dated 1980
Sculpture as such has been a rather late arrival in Erté’s life, but his three-dimensional creativity began long before he started to work with Paul Poiret in Paris in 1913. It began at his house in St. Petersburg in 1897, when he was five years of age and created a little theatre using his mothers empty perfume bottles, which he filled with different coloured waters. These were his players, whose costumes he created by adorning them with bits of lace and gauze he found in the sewing room. Some months later, he began his career in fashion by designing a gown for his mother.
Erté: Process of producing a bronze
First, the artist models the sculpture in clay. A plaster mold of the model is made, from which a plaster cast is produced and the details are refined. After the plaster cast has been carefully checked to be sure that it is accurate, and final changes have been made, a flexible rubber mold is made from the plaster. This mold enables every detail to be captured. Molten wax is poured into the rubber mold, producing a faithful wax casting of the sculpture. This casting is then checked for detail and cleaned up, following which the wax cast is dipped into a bath of liquid ceramic to produce another mold. After several days, when the ceramic mold is dry, it is heated to melt the wax, which runs out through openings in the mold, leaving a cavity in its place (Hence the term lost wax). The mold is then fired in a kiln to bake the ceramic to a high degree of hardness. The final casting made by pour molten bronze into the cavity. When the bronze has cooled, the ceramic mould is carefully broken away, revealing the bronze sculpture within. Then the piece is sandblasted and chased to clean it up and removed imperfections. Finally, the sculpture is treated with chemicals and heat to achieve the desired patinas.
” In fashion- creating forms for living people-in the design of furniture, in the design of theatrical settings and costumes, in the design of jewellery, one is functioning in three dimensions, and all this work in the round can be considered sculptural. In this sense, my theatrical settings are large environmental sculptures. I have never made a drawing for a dress or a costume without first having a fully developed idea of it in the round. In fact, before I start a design every detail has to be ripe in my mind, and I execute it without any deviation,because the conception has become a living reality deep in my creative psyche. When I design an evening dress, for example, I assemble a woman in full costume inside my head, swirling in her gown, showing every fold, seam and hem.”
Erté’s take on Femme A La Panthère
“Here is a strange female figure – half woman, half feline- holding a panther on a golden chain. Both are sensuous- and dangerous. This sculpture was inspired be the letter L of my alphabet series. For a 1928exhibition in Paris I planned to make a set of paintings representing the twenty-six letters of the alphabet, using human bodies in movement. When the exhibition date approached only three letters were finished, so I cancelled the show. One by one, in my spare time, I made each letter. Forty years later, in 1968, when I wanted to show The Alphabet at the Grosvenor Gallery in London, I discovered that two letters were still missing – Q and L. I did them immediately. L became the most successful of all letter of The Alphabet.”
To view more sculpture by Erté please click here.
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