Lot 39
  • 39

Tamara de Lempicka

70,000 - 90,000 USD
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  • Tamara de Lempicka
  • Indien à Turban (Indian with a Turban)
  • signed Lempicka 
  • oil on canvas 
  • 55.3 by 38.5cm.; 21¾ by 15⅛in.
  • Executed circa 1939.


Private Collection, United States (acquired before 1990)
Thence by Descent 
Sale: Sotheby's, London, Impressionist and Modern Art; Day Sale, 24 June 2014, lot 295
Acquired directly from the above by the present owner in 2014


Paris, Pinacothèque de Paris, Tamara de Lempicka, la Reine de l''Art déco, 2013, no. 93, illustrated in colour


Marc Vaux, Fonds Lempicka, Paris, 1972, n.p.
Alain Blondel, Lempicka, Catalogue raisonné1921-1979, Lausanne, 1999, no. B215, p. 303, illustrated 


Condition: This work is in good condition. The canvas is not lined. There is a repaired tear with some associated fluoresence visible under UV light to the sitter's left part of the forehead and eye. There is a further area of fluorescence to the left and right of the sitter's tunic that does not appear to be associated with retouching. There is a pinhole towards the upper left corner, a further pinhole a quarter in dimension directly below and another along the upper edge. There is a slight paint loss towards the center of the lower edge and there is a slight undulation predominantly towards the lower left corner. The florescence visible along the lower edge results in some slight discoloration visible to the naked eye; this work would benefit from a light clean. Colour: The colour in the catalogue illustration is accurate.
"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

Lempicka’s oeuvre blends a great variety of styles and influences—figuration and abstraction, Renaissance portraiture and Hollywood glamour—with an extraordinary effect. She was inspired by a diverse set of artistic influences, from the geometric aesthetic of Cubism to the razor-sharp draughtsmanship of Neue Sachlichkeit, however, it was her love for the Italian Renaissance which had the most profound effect in developing her unique artistic style. As Magdeleine Dayot wrote, the paintings are a “curious blend of extreme modernism and classical purity that attracts and surprises, and provokes, perhaps even before conquering completely, a sort of cerebral struggle where these very different tendencies fight with each other until the moment the gaze grasps the great harmony that reigns in these opposites” (quoted in Gioia Mori, Tamara de Lempicka: The Queen of Modern, Milan, 2011, p. 21).

The sitter in the present work is set against a sky-blue background with a white turban wrapped around his head, wearing a traditional gold-trimmed robe. The face is distinguished by stark chiaroscuro, which delineates the angularity in the protagonist’s features with bold contours. This kind of stylistic geometry reflects the artist’s progressive attitude towards form and portraiture. Indien à Turban is a rare and insightful work which belongs to Lempicka’s series of portraits with a strong art-deco influence. With its exceptional technical quality, the smooth and brilliant rendering of the colours, the painting is an elegant development of the artist’s take on Cubism where the shapes and composition are carefully measured in a pleasing and harmonious balance. As noted by the artist’s daughter, ‘What she painted had a smooth polish, an icy perfection that detached her subjects from reality, that made them archetypal… Beneath the paintings’ satin and porcelain surfaces, beneath the icing, passion smouldered, hinted at by the fullness of her volumes, by the violent outbursts of reds, blues, greens’ (quoted in Baroness Kizette de Lempicka-Foxhall, Passion by Design, The Art and Times of Tamara de Lempicka, New York, 1987, p. 84).