Tamara De Lempicka
1898-1980 | PolishPortrait d'homme à lunettes(Portrait of a Man Wearing Glasses)
Signed “Lempicka” (bottom right)
Pencil on paper
This pencil on paper portrait by Tamara de Lempicka captures a mustached man wearing a pair of circular Windsor glasses. Lempicka has sketched her own frame into the drawing, so only the man’s suited upper torso and head are visible. Gazing towards the distance with a furrowed brow, the man appears reflective and perhaps perturbed. With the depth the artist creates through shadow and carefully shading with pencil, Lempicka’s portrait here creates a remarkable lifelike quality and is reminiscent of her neo-Cubist figures. Best known for her images of stylish women, this rare portrait of a man stands out within the artist’s oeuvre. Portrait d'homme à lunettes
offers the rare opportunity to get a peek behind the curtain to see the working process of one of the 20th century’s most glamorous artists.
Lempicka’s life was marked by constant movement. Born in Poland at the turn of the 20th century, Lempicka was forced to flee to France in 1918 after the beginning of the Russian Revolution. During a visit to Italy in her youth, she became enraptured by the Italian Old Masters. Inspired by this formative experience, Lempicka enrolled in Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Paris to take up painting. She studied under famed avant-garde artists Maurice Denis and André Lhote, who introduced her to Cubism, and she began exhibiting at the Parisian salons as early as 1922. Lempicka became a fixture in Parisian high society, spending much of her time hosting wealthy elites in her atelier on Rue Méchain.
With a resurgence of appreciation for the Art Deco period, combined with the success of her retrospective at Galerie de Luxembourg in 1971, Lempicka’s work has achieved remarkable acclaim in recent decades. Much of her work resides in museums worldwide, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Musée des Beaux-Arts du Havre, and the National Museum Warsaw, among others. Alain Blondel, the esteemed French author who compiled the artist’s catalogue raisonné, wrote fondly of her uniqueness: “Tamara de Lempicka will always continue to defy categorization. Her art and her life destiny do not fit into the usual framework for 20th-century artists. The idea that art could be a profession was foreign to Lempicka. Her life and her painting were too closely intertwined for that.”Portrait d'homme à lunettes
can be found in the artist’s catalogue raisonné
Paper: 5 3/4“ high x 4 3/4” wideFrame: 12 1/4“ high x 11” wide x 1 1/4“ deep
Literature:Alain Blondel, Tamara de Lempicka, Catalogue raisonné 1921-1979
, Lausanne, 1999, no. A.196
By Descent; Private Collection
M.S. Rau, New Orleans