Tamara De Lempicka
1898-1980 | PolishStylish Woman with Flower HatElégante au chapeau fleuri
Signed “Lempicka / Paris 1937” (bottom right)
Watercolor on paper
This ethereal watercolor on paper portrait by Tamara de Lempicka captures the glamour and poise of its subject. The woman wears long white gloves with floral accents near the wrists, as if made to match her large flower hat that sits atop her auburn hair. She takes a rather editorial pose, looking away from the viewer with a distant and contemplative look on her face. Paired with the red lipstick and the nearly sculpture quality of her blue outer jacket, Lempicka seem to further emphasize the sitter’s style and composure.
Images of stylish women represent the best of Lempicka’s oeuvre; in fact, it is her best beloved subject, though she typically uses oil on canvas. By utilizing thin washes of watercolor paint here, Lempicka’s portrait feels more impressionistic and delicate that her fuller-bodied neo-Cubist figures. Stylish Woman with Flower Hat
offers the rare opportunity to acquire a watercolor from the glamorous artist.
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. As a sophisticated and elegant woman herself, one may be inclined to believe that Stylish Woman with Flower Hat
is a self-portrait of the artist; we can say this with near certainty, as Lempicka wrote in June of 1936: “Each of my paintings is a self-portrait.”
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.”Stylish Woman with Flower Hat
can be found in the artist’s catalogue raisonné
; though Lempicka was a prolific artist, watercolor paintings were exceedingly rare in her oeuvre. We know the artist treasured her watercolors, as Stylish Woman with Flower Hat
remained in Lempicka's private collection for her entire life.
Paper: 10 1/2“ high x 10” wideFrame: 19 1/4“ high x 18 1/2” wide x 1.5“ deep
Alain Blondel, Tamara de Lempicka, Catalogue raisonné 1921-1979
, Lausanne, 1999, no. A.173.
Estate of the artist
M.S. Rau, New Orleans