Lot 77
  • 77

Pavel Tchelitchew

60,000 - 80,000 GBP
200,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Pavel Tchelitchew
  • The Rose Necklace
  • signed in Latin and dated 31 t.l.
  • oil on board


Collection of Mrs Edward Maast, London, acquired directly from the artist
A gift from the above to her niece
Sotheby's London, Impressionist and Modern Art and Ceramics, 26 October 1994, lot 19


J.T. Soby, Tchelitchew. Paintings, Drawings, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1942, p.59, no.34 illustrated b/w
Exhibition catalogue Pavel Tchelitchew, New York, 1964, p.49 listed in the chronology
P.Tyler, The Divine Comedy of Pavel Tchelitchew, London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1969, illustrated b/w
G.Haggerty and B.Zimmerman, Encyclopedia of Lesbian and Gay Histories and Cultures, Taylor & Francis, 2000, p.1332 mentioned in the text

Catalogue Note

The Rose Necklace is a portrait of Charles Levinson, known as ‘Le Vincent’, who was ‘a handsome ex-soldier with a superb necklace of tattooed flowers’ (L.Kirstein, Tchelitchew, Santa Fe, 1994, p.45). With his nonchalant beauty and easy physicality he inspired Tchelitchew to produce a full series of tattooed circus figures (fig.1). This portrait provides an earthy, sexual counterpoint to Picasso’s Garçon à la Pipe (1904) which inspired Tchelitchew’s portraits of Ford and others surrounded by flowers, only here the garland of roses is transposed to the sitter’s chest.

The American novelist Samuel Steward who abandoned academia to work as a tattoo artist and gay pornographer under the soubriquet Phil Sparrow, famously had a tattoo of a rose garland across his chest in direct homage to this portrait. He and Tchelitchew were introduced through Gertrude Stein in Paris in the early 1930s and their circles also overlapped through figures such as the American ballet photographer George Platt Lynes whose photographs of Le Vincent are as famous as Tchelitchew’s portraits (fig.2).