Lot 26
  • 26

Tamara de Lempicka

4,000,000 - 6,000,000 USD
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  • Tamara de Lempicka
  • Portrait de la Duchesse de la Salle
  • Signed T. de Lempicka (upper right)
  • Oil on canvas
  • 63 3/4 by 38 1/4 in.
  • 162 by 97 cm


Private Collection, France (by 1967)

Galerie du Luxembourg, Paris (by 1988)

Barry Friedman, Ltd., New York (by 1988)

Acquired from the above in 1991


Milan, Bottega di Poesia, Tamara de Lempicka, 1925, no. 15, illustrated in the catalogue

Paris, Salon d'Automne, 1926, no. 1446

Paris, Galerie du Luxembourg, Tamara de Lempicka de 1925 à 1935, 1972, no. 9, illustrated in the catalogue

Paris, Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris 1925, 1976-77, no. 146

Berlin, Nationalgalerie, Tendenzen der Zwanziger Jahre, 1977, no. 101

London, Hayward Gallery, Neue Sachlichkeit and German Realism of the Twenties, 1978-79, no. 181

Paris, Musée des Arts Décoratifs, La famille des portraits, 1980

Tokyo & Osaka, Seibu Galleries, Tamara de Lempicka, 1981

Berlin, Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, Androgyn, 1986, no. 8

Mexico, Museo Nacional de Arte, Tamara de Lempicka, 1989

Montréal, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Les années 20, l'âge des métropoles, 1991, no. 360

Montréal, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Tamara de Lempicka, 1994

Rome, Accademia di Francia, Villa Medici, Tamara de Lempicka, Tra eleganza e trasgressione, 1994, no. 10, illustrated in color in the catalogue

Munich, Kunsthalle der Hypo-Kulturstiftung, Der kühle Blick: Realismus der Zwanzigerjahre in Europa und Amerika, 2001, illustrated in color in the catalogue

London, Royal Academy of Arts & Bilbao, Guggenheim Museum, Paris: Capital of the Arts, 1900-1968, 2002, no. 66, illustrated in color in the catalogue

London, Royal Academy of Arts & Vienna, Kunstforum Wien, Tamara de Lempicka: Art Deco Icon, 2004-05, no. 17, illustrated in color in the catalogue

Boulogne-Billancourt, Musée des Années 30, Tamara de Lempicka, 2006, illustrated in color in the catalogue

Milan, Palazzo Reale, Tamara de Lempicka, 2006-07, no. 18, illustrated in color in the catalogue

Vigo, Fundación Caixa Galicia, Tamara de Lempicka, 2007

Madrid, Fundación Mapfre, Amazonas del Arte Nuevo, 2008


Tamara de Lempicka, Annotated Photographic Album, Archives Lempicka, Houston, 1923-33, no. 37

Pietro Torriano, "Tamara de Lempicka," Emporium, vol. LXII, no. 372, Bergamo, December, 1925, illustrated p. 402

Die Dame, Berlin, February, 1927, illustrated p. 32

Die Wochenschau, Essen, June 17, 1927, illustrated

Didier de Sceaux, "Un peintre: Tamara de Lempicka," Le Forum, Paris, July 12, 1927, illustrated

"Recent Paintings by Tamara de Lempicka," Vanity Fair, New York, February, 1927, illustrated p. 47

Marc Vaux, Lempicka Collection, Musée National d'Art Moderne, Paris, 1972, no. 37

Giancarlo Marmori, Tamara de Lempicka, Milan, 1977, illustrated in color p. 53

Giancarlo Marmori, Tamara de Lempicka, The major works of Tamara de Lempicka 1925 to 1935, Milan, 1978, illustrated in color p. 17

Germain Bazin & Hiroyuki Itsuki, Tamara de Lempicka, Tokyo, 1980, no. 11, illustrated in color

Alberto Arbasino, "Tamara in Hollywood," F.M.R., no. 18, February-March, 1986, illustrated on the cover

Michel Frizot, Le Passé Composé - Les 6 x 13 de J.-H. Lartigue, P.U.F., Paris, 1987

Wolfgang Joop, "Tamara de Lempicka, Träume von Mythen und Moden," Pan, Burda GmbH, Offenburg, May, 1987, illustrated p. 10

Baroness Kizette de Lempicka-Foxhall & Charles Phillips, Passion by design, The art and times of Tamara de Lempicka, New York, 1987, illustrated in color p. 51

Jean Clair, Les années 20 - L'âge des métropoles, Montreal, 1991, no. 360, illustrated p. 565

Ellen Thormann, Tamara de Lempicka, Kunstkritik und Künstlerinnen in Paris, Berlin, 1993, no. 55, illustrated in color on the cover

Gilles Néret, Tamara de Lempicka 1898-1980, Cologne, 1993, illustrated in color p. 10

Gioia Mori, Tamara de Lempicka, Parigi 1920-1938, Florence, 1994, no. 26, illustrated in color p. 125

Alain Blondel, Tamara de Lempicka, Catalogue Raisonné 1921-1979, Lausanne, 1999, no. B.72, illustrated in color p. 149

Kerstin Stremmel & Uta Grosenick, Realism, Germany, 2004, illustrated in color p. 63

Patrick Bade, Tamara de Lempicka, New York, 2006, illustrated in color p. 143


This work is in good condition. Original canvas and the edges have been strip-lined. There are scattered areas of retouching visible under UV light: spots and areas along the left, right and lower edge, an intermittent diagonal line above the head, some small spots in the woman's face and some spots of her thigh. There is a small patch on the reverse of the canvas, which corresponds to a spot of retouching towards the bottom half of the right edge. Apart from a very faint horizontal stretcher-mark, this work is in good condition.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

Tamara de Lempicka's lustrous Portrait de la Duchesse de la Salle exemplifies the sleek aesthetic of the Roaring Twenties.  Sexy, bold and ultra-stylized in its presentation, this picture and her other important pictures from the 1920s celebrate the strength and power of the modern woman.  Lempicka, who was born in Poland and spent the rest of her life cultivating a glamorous international persona, came to Paris after fleeing Russia in 1918.  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.  This spectacular portrait from 1925 makes particular reference to Cubism, with its highly-geometricized cityscape backdrop, but also pushes the limits of portraiture in this daring portrayal of the Duchesse.

The modeling of the figure and Lempicka's staging of the scene call to mind Bronzino's Mannerist portraits of nobility.   But with this monumental oil Lempicka set new standards for the genre portraiture in the early 20th century, portraying her female subject with an air of grandeur that was normally afforded to men.  According to Patrick Bade, "The portrait of the Duchesse de La Salle is one of the grandest that De Lempicka ever painted.  The full length format and the traditional props of the curtain and the classical column invite comparisons with courtly and aristocratic portraits of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, though the 'cubified,' nocturnal cityscape illuminated by electric lights in the background, the bobbed hair style of the Duchesse and her daringly masculine garb update the picture unmistakably to the twentieth century" (P. Bade, op. cit., p. 142).

The fashionable woman in this picture is the Greek-born Marika, Duchesse de la Salle de Rochemaure.  The Duchesse earned her title by marriage in 1905, ultimately divorcing her husband and retaining a handsome alimony.  She was notoriously extravagant in her spending, and she lavished her money on several women artists of her day, including Lempicka and the British painter Marlow Moss.  According to Alain Blondel, the Duchesse lost her wealth in the 1930s, and retreated with her daughter Romana to an Alpine village where she lived modestly until her death in 1973.   In this portrait, however, Lempicka captures the Duchesse at the height of her flamboyance, smartly dressed in riding attire and striking a swaggering pose on a red carpet. 

Alain Blondel provides the following stylistic analysis of this portrait in the Catalogue raisonné: "This portrait underscores this horsewoman's domineering effect by planting her on a staircase carpeted in red.  The setting, constituted by a column and a theatrically imposing drape, seems more like an entranceway into a nightclub or any other night spot than the hallway of a ducal residence. The yellow windows of the lopsided houses throw light onto the winding roads, in a fashion reminiscent of films by Murnau" (A. Blondel, op. cit., p. 149).

Lempicka must have been intrigued by the androgynous appeal of this dashing young woman, whose portrait in some ways resembles the one that Lempicka later painted of her husband Baron Kuffner in 1928.  In several publicity photographs that Lempicka staged in her home, it is this portrait of the Duchesse, and not that of her husband, that hangs suggestively above her bed.  In fact, Portrait de la Duchesse de la Salle has become synonymous with Lempicka's art and style.  This portrait has been featured in nearly every major exhibition of the artist's work, and is emblematic of the power and sophistication of her art.