Lot 111
  • 111

Tamara de Lempicka

300,000 - 500,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Tamara de Lempicka
  • Il fondo rosa (Portrait de Bibi Zögbe) (Pink Background (Portrait of Bibi Zögbe))
  • signed T. de Lempicka at a later date (lower left)
  • oil on canvas
  • 41 by 33.1cm., 16 1/8 by 12 1/4 in.


Bibi Zögbe, Argentina (acquired directly from the artist in 1924)
Sale: Loudmer, Paris, 25th June 1990, lot 216
Private Collection, Rio de Janeiro
Barry Friedman Ltd., New York (acquired by 1995)
Private Collection, Milan (acquired by 1997)
Acquired from the above by the present owner


Milan, Bottega di Poesia, Tamara de Lempitzka, 1925, no. 10
New York, Barry Friedman Ltd., Tamara de Lempicka, 1996, no. 4
Tokyo, Musée d’Art d’Isetan; Hiroshima, Musée des Beaux-Arts; Nagoya, Musée d’Art de Matsuzakaya & Osaka, Musée d’Art de Daimaru, Tamara de Lempicka, 1997, no. 6, illustrated in the catalogue
Milan, Palazzo Reale, Tamara de Lempicka, 2006, no. 9, illustrated in colour in the catalogue


The Artist's Archive, Houston, annotated in a photographic album, no. 3
Marc Vaux, Fonds Lempicka, Paris, 1972, no. 3
Gioia Mori, Tamara de Lempicka - Paris 1928-1938, Florence, 1994, illustrated p. 109
Alain Blondel, Tamara de Lempicka, Catalogue raisonné 1921-1979, Lausanne, 1999, no. B.25, illustrated in colour p. 102
Alain Blondel & Emmanuel Breon, Lempicka (exhibition catalogue), Paris, 2006, illustrated in colour p. 148
Alain Blondel & Emmanuel Breon, Tamara de Lempicka (exhibition catalogue), Tokyo, 2010, illustrated p. 14
Eva Vanzella (ed.), Tamara de Lempicka, La Reine de l'Art Déco (exhibition catalogue), Paris, 2013, illustrated in colour p. 121
Gioia Mori, Tamara de Lempicka (exhibition catalogue), Turin, 2015, illustrated in colour p. 31


The canvas is not lined. Examination under UV light reveals retouching intermittently along the edges, predominantly along the upper edge as well as to the centre of the right edge. There are further small spots of retouching in places including to the sitter's forehead, proper left cheek and to the corner of her mouth. There is a small loss of canvas to the lower right corner with associated retouching and there is some wear to the other corners. There is a tiny paint loss below the sitter's proper left eye. This work is in overall 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. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

Born in Poland and raised in St. Petersburg, Tamara de Lempicka first came to Paris in 1918 and spent the rest of her life painting and cultivating a glamorous international persona by painting some of the most avant-garde artists, European socialites and the aristocracy of the time. She began exhibiting her work in the Paris salons in 1922, and through her exposure to modern art developed a distinct style of painting nurtured by studying the works of the Italian masters such as Botticelli, Pontormo and Michelangelo. De Lempicka’s work, characterised by its razor-sharp draughtsmanship, theatrical lighting and sensual modeling, was unlike that of any artist of her day. Impressed by the Cubists and their deconstruction of form, she applied similar techniques in her paintings, loosely appropriating the geometric aesthetic of Cubism and the proportionality of neo-Classicism.

Il fondo rosa (Portrait of Bibi Zögbe) also reflects the influence of the Italian Mannerists in the way that de Lempicka has exaggerated the sitter’s neck and bare shoulders and renders her round eyes in a dramatic fashion. The elegant simplified angles and planes of the body, shaped into shaded curvilinear forms, is characteristic of her former teacher André Lhote, a cubist who worked alongside many of the fathers of Modern art. De Lempicka explained the close cropping of her figures in the frame: ‘People had thought I made a mistake, I had chopped off a piece of their heads. But I wanted it to look like the people ran in and out, leading their busy lives (quoted in Laura Claridge, Tamara de Lempicka: A Life of Deco and Decadence, New York, 1999, p. 82). The cropping of the portrait might further evoke images of icons or saintly figures, imbuing this work with an almost religious zeal. 

The sitter for the present work, Bibi Zögbe, was a Lebanese painter and friend of de Lempicka’s in the 1920s. She emigrated to Argentina in the early 1900s where she had several successful exhibitions and became known as “La Pintora de las Flores (The Painter of Flowers)”. Bibi had moved to Paris in the early 20s, spending time with the avant-garde and with Argentinian artists, her work being exhibited in both Paris and Buenos Aires, and it is in this context that she would have met De Lempicka. This striking portrait of Zögbe was included in de Lempicka’s important first solo exhibition hosted by Count Emanuele Castelbarco at the Bottega di Poesia on 28th November 1925.