Lot 31
  • 31

Tamara de Lempicka

Estimate
4,000,000 - 6,000,000 USD
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Description

  • Tamara de Lempicka
  • Portrait de Guido Sommi
  • Signed T. DE LEMPITZKA (lower left)
  • Oil on canvas

Provenance

Galerie du Luxembourg, Paris (acquired from the artist in 1969)

Acquired from the above in 1969

Exhibited

Milan, Palazzo Reale, Tamara de Lempicka, 2006-07, no. 21, illustrated in color in the catalogue

Literature

Alain Blondel, Tamara de Lempicka, Catalogue raisonné, 1921-1979, Lausanne, 1999, no. B. 56, illustrated p. 125

Catalogue Note

Tamara de Lempicka's exceptional Portrait de Guido Sommi  exemplifies the sleek aesthetic of the Roaring Twenties. Sexy, bold and ultra-stylized in its presentation, this picture is a rare depiction of a male subject within an oeuvre dominated predominately by female sitters. 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 featured in the upper left corner of the composition. 

The modeling of the figure and Lempicka's staging of the scene call to mind Bronzino's Mannerist portraits of nobility. The fashionable man in this picture is Marquis Guido di Giralamo Sommi Picenardi, whom Lempicka met during her first stay in Milan in 1925 and who became one of her many lovers. The husband of Princess Anna Maria Pignatelli, Sommi was a descendent of a noble family originally from Cremona. He was also an avant-garde musician who introduced Lempicka to the Futurist circle. Alain Blondel provides the following stylistic analysis of this portrait in the Catalogue raisonné: “Wearing a coat with a handsome fur collar (the same as in Gabriele d’Annunzio’s wardrobe), the marquis/musician seems most imposing.  A gap in the heavy drapes discloses his fief: the city of Milan at night.  His left hand boasts an emerald. The theme of this work prefigures the portrait of Tadeusz [Lempicka's husband] that Lempicka would do three years later” (A. Blondel op. cit. p. 125).

The present work is one of two portraits of Marquis Sommi painted by Lempicka in 1925. The other portrait, Portrait du Marquis Sommi (Blondel no. B 55), is smaller in scale and features Sommi seated against a shrouded background. The present work never entered the Marchese’s possession and instead remained with Lempicka for decades until 1969, perhaps as a reminder of her passionate love affair with the handsome Italian.
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