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PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE AMERICAN COLLECTION

Tamara de Lempicka
LA DORMEUSE
Estimate
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Lots with this symbol indicate that a party has provided Sotheby’s with an irrevocable bid on the lot that will be executed during the sale at a value that ensures that the lot will sell. The irrevocable bidder, who may bid in excess of the irrevocable bid, will be compensated based on the final hammer price in the event he or she is not the successful bidder or may receive a fixed fee in the event he or she is the successful bidder. If the irrevocable bidder is the successful bidder, the fixed fee (if applicable) for providing the irrevocable bid may be netted against the irrevocable bidder’s obligation to pay the full purchase price for the lot and the purchase price reported for the lot shall be net of such fixed fee. If the irrevocable bid is not secured until after the printing of the auction catalogue, a pre-lot announcement will be made indicating that there is an irrevocable bid on the lot. If the irrevocable bidder is advising anyone with respect to the lot, Sotheby’s requires the irrevocable bidder to disclose his or her financial interest in the lot. If an agent is advising you or bidding on your behalf with respect to a lot identified as being subject to an irrevocable bid, you should request that the agent disclose whether or not he or she has a financial interest in the lot.
Guaranteed Property
Guaranteed Property. The seller of lots with this symbol has been guaranteed a minimum price from one auction or a series of auctions. If every lot in a catalogue is guaranteed, the Conditions of Sale will so state and this symbol will not be used for each lot.
2,200,0003,200,000
LOT SOLD. 4,073,250 GBP
JUMP TO LOT
17

PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE AMERICAN COLLECTION

Tamara de Lempicka
LA DORMEUSE
Estimate
Double Dagger
Indicates that the lot is being sold whilst subject to Temporary Importation, and that VAT is due at the reduced rate
Irrevocable Bids
Lots with this symbol indicate that a party has provided Sotheby’s with an irrevocable bid on the lot that will be executed during the sale at a value that ensures that the lot will sell. The irrevocable bidder, who may bid in excess of the irrevocable bid, will be compensated based on the final hammer price in the event he or she is not the successful bidder or may receive a fixed fee in the event he or she is the successful bidder. If the irrevocable bidder is the successful bidder, the fixed fee (if applicable) for providing the irrevocable bid may be netted against the irrevocable bidder’s obligation to pay the full purchase price for the lot and the purchase price reported for the lot shall be net of such fixed fee. If the irrevocable bid is not secured until after the printing of the auction catalogue, a pre-lot announcement will be made indicating that there is an irrevocable bid on the lot. If the irrevocable bidder is advising anyone with respect to the lot, Sotheby’s requires the irrevocable bidder to disclose his or her financial interest in the lot. If an agent is advising you or bidding on your behalf with respect to a lot identified as being subject to an irrevocable bid, you should request that the agent disclose whether or not he or she has a financial interest in the lot.
Guaranteed Property
Guaranteed Property. The seller of lots with this symbol has been guaranteed a minimum price from one auction or a series of auctions. If every lot in a catalogue is guaranteed, the Conditions of Sale will so state and this symbol will not be used for each lot.
2,200,0003,200,000
LOT SOLD. 4,073,250 GBP
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale

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London

Tamara de Lempicka
1898 - 1980
LA DORMEUSE
signed De Lempicka (upper left)
oil on panel
38 by 45.8cm.
15 by 18in.
Painted in 1930.


 


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Provenance

Evelyne Artus, USA (acquired from the artist n 1930)
Private Collection, USA (by descent from the above. Sold: Christie's, New York, 15th May 1997, lot 401)
Worth Avenue Fine Arts, Inc. (Stephen E. Myers), Palm Beach
Acquired by the present owner in 1997

Exhibited

New York, Julien Levy Gallery, Tamara de Lempicka, 1941, no. 6
Paris, Galerie Ror Volmar, Tamara de Lempicka, œuvres récentes et anciennes, 1930-1960, 1961
Hiroshima, Museum of Fine Arts, Tamara de Lempicka, 1997, no. 30

Literature

Georges Remon, 'Architectures Modernes - L'Atelier de Mme de Lempicka', in Mobilier & Décoration, Sèvres, January 1931, illustrated p. 2
G. C. 'Tamara de Lempicka', in Cose, no. 92, March 1933, illustrated
Marc Vaux, Fonds Lempicka, Musée National d'Art Moderne, Paris, 1972, no. 88, listed
Gioia Mori, Tamara de Lempicka, Paris, 1920-1938, Florence, 1994, no. 87, illustrated p. 186
Alain Blondel, Tamara de Lempicka, catalogue raisonné, 1921-1979, Lausanne, 1999, no. B.136, illustrated in colour p. 223

Catalogue Note

Sexy, bold and ultra-stylised in its presentation, La Dormeuse is a highly charged and suggestive depiction of a femme fatale in repose. Lempicka was born in Poland and lived in St. Petersburg in her youth. In 1918 she came to Paris and spent the rest of her life cultivating a glamorous international persona (fig. 1). She began exhibiting her work in the Paris salons in 1922, and through her exposure to avant-garde art, she derived a distinct style of painting that was unlike most of her male contemporaries.  Impressed by the Cubists and their deconstruction of form, she applied similar techniques in her paintings. Although loosely tied to the geometric aesthetic of Cubism and the proportionality of neo-Classicism, Lempicka's painting, characterised by its razor-sharp draughtsmanship, theatrical lighting and sensual modeling, was unlike that of any artist of her day. Her most striking depictions of women (fig. 2), including the tantalising La Dormeuse, have come to personify the age of Art Deco. 

The subject of the sleeping woman was filled with erotic potential, as Picasso would so readily acknowledge in his sumptuous portraits of Marie-Therese in 1932 (fig. 3). Lempicka's version of this image, which preceded these pictures by two years, is perhaps one of the most intimate and unabashedly sensual renderings of this theme. In La Dormeuse, every curve of the figure's flesh is rendered with imperceptible brushstrokes. Her skin appears to be incandescent as if she is bathed in silver moonlight, and her hair glows with a metallic sheen. Lempicka was receptive to the influence of her colleagues in Weimar Germany, and she readily incorporated the hyper-realism of Neue Sachlichkeit into her own work. But it was her love of the precision and classicism of the Italian Renaissance (fig. 4) that had the most profound impact on her compositions. Lempicka frequently acknowledged her indebtedness to the Italian Old Masters and how their style profoundly impacted her art: 'I discovered Italy when I was a youngster and my grandmother took me away from the cold climate of Poland, where I was born and lived, to take me to the sunny cities of Florence, Rome, Naples, Venice and Milan. It was under her attentive guidance that my eyes took in the treasures of the Italian old masters, from the Quattrocento, the Renaissance' (quoted in Alain Blondel, op. cit., p. 22).

While much has been written about Lempicka's reverence for the old masters, equally important to her as an artist were the aesthetic forces of her era, the most influential of which was the American film industry. Lempicka was enthralled with the mystique of Hollywood, eventually moving there in the 1940s with her second husband, Baron Kuffner. She invited film crews to her studio in Paris, where she staged grand entrances and posed for pictures with all the theatricality and panache of a silent film star. One often repeated anecdote is that Lempicka was thrilled to be mistaken once for the film actress Greta Garbo. The artist was enamoured by this type of modern glamour, and it is no accident that the models in her portraits often resemble film icons from the early days of Hollywood. This platinum bombshell, depicted in the nude and with brightly coloured lips and nails, calls to mind the passively seductive poses of such 1930s silver-screen legends like Garbo and Carole Lombard. 

As Patrick Bade explained in his monograph on the artist, 'There is no doubt that de Lempicka herself was profoundly influenced by the burgeoning art form of the cinema. In the 1920s as she formed her style, the great Hollywood studios of M.G.M., Paramount, Columbia, Universal and R.K.O. began what has been termed the gold age of Hollywood and their domination of world entertainment. The French and German film industries also enjoyed a golden age of creativity, turning out many of the twentieth century's finest films in these years. The ubiquity of movies began to influence the way people looked and behaved. De Lempicka's female subjects with their heavy makeup, perfectly coiffed hair and their theatrical poses and facial expressions full of artificial pathos could have stepped out of the silver screen" (P. Bade, Tamara de Lempicka, New York, 2006, p. 92). 

 

Fig. 1, Tamara de Lempicka with a cigarette, circa 1931-32, Photograph by Camuzzi, Collection Alain & Michèle Blondel
Fig. 2, Tamara de Lempicka, Portrait de Marjorie Ferry, 1932, oil on canvas. Sold: Sotheby's, New York, 5th May 2009
Fig. 3, Pablo Picasso, La Dormeuse, 1932, oil on canvas, sold: Sotheby's, London, February 2011
Fig. 4, Michelangelo, Dawn (detail), 1520-34, marble, tomb of Lorenzo de Medici, Florence

Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale

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London