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Paris Art Studies  - Tamara de Lempicka 1898-1980

 

 

1898 – Born into wealthy Polish family in Warsaw. Father is Boris Gurwik-Górski, a Jewish lawyer and her mother Malvina Decler, a Polish socialite. Attends boarding school in Lausanne in Switzerland.

1911 – She Spends winter with her grandmother in Italy and on the French Riviera.

1912 – Parents divorce. She is sent to live with her wealthy aunt Stefa in St Petersburg. Her mother re-marries.

1913 – She spots her future husband, Tadeusz Lempicki, a lawyer, at opera and plots her courtship.

1914 – Enrolls in St Petersburg School of fine arts.

1916 – Marries Tadeusz Lempicki (1888-1951) in St Petersburg. He is a notorious ladies man and quite interested by Tamara's dowry. Birth of her daughter Kizette.

1917-18 – After the Russian revolution Tadeusz is arrested by Bolsheviks. A frantic Tamara secures his release with the help of the Swedish consul. The couple flee to Copenhagen, London and finally Paris where the rest of her family have settled. They survive for a time by selling family jewels.

1920 - Decides to take up painting seriously again and studies at the académie Ranson under the Nabi painter Maurice Denis and at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière under the Cubist André Lhotte.

1925 – Year of the Exposition des arts décoratifs in Paris which launches the Art Deco style. Tamara shows at the Salon des Tuileries and the Salon des femmes peintres. First solo show in Milan is sponsored by count Emmanuele Castelbarco. Lempicka paints 28 new works for it in 6 months. The show will launch her career as the most fashionable portraitist for international socialites. Love affair with marquis Sommi Picenardi.

1926 Many attempts to visit  the most celebrated Italian writer of the day, Gabrielle D’Annunzio in his villa in Gardone on lake Garda hoping to paint his portrait. He refuses after she declines to sleep with him.

1927 – Wins first prize at the Exposition Internationale des Beaux Arts in Bordeaux for "Kizette on the Balcony". She can now charge 50 000 francs per portrait. Separation with Lempicki.

1928 – Moves to fashionable modern house designed by architect Robert Mallet Stevens in Montparnasse. She is commissioned to paint the portrait of the mistress of one of her oldest patrons Baron Raoul Kuffner von Dioszeg. The portrait duly finished, she become the Baron's new mistress.

1929 – Visits the United States for the first time invited by the collector Rufus Bush who has commissioned a portrait of his fiancé.  She exhibits her pictures at the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh. Loses, however, all her money from American sales after the stock market crash.

1930 - The Depression, in the end, had little impact on her career; she continued to paint glamorous figures like King Alfonso of Spain or queen Elizabeth of Greece.

1931 – Divorces Lempicki.

1933 – Works in Chicago.

1934 – Marries Baron Kuffner in Zurich after the Baron's wife's death the previous year. Her social position is now secure. She advises the baron to sell his many estates in Eastern Europe and move his money to Switzerland. She nevertheless suffers from depression and turns to lachrymose religious subject matter in her painting as well as to humble figures and peasants very much in opposition to her glamorous portraits of the 1920's.

1939 – The couple travel to New York before settling with the Baron in Beverly Hills in the former residence of the film director King Vidor. Exhibition at the Paul Reinhart gallery in Los Angeles. She will from now on be known as the "baroness with a brush". She visits Hollywood stars on the movie sets and they visit her studio.

1941 – She manages to get her daughter out of Paris after the German occupation and bring her to the USA. Exhibits at Julien Levy gallery in Los Angeles.

1942  – Kizette marries the geologist Harold Foxhall and moves to Texas.

1943 – The Kuffners move to New York. Tamara's popularity as a painter declines.

1949 Tamara leaves for Italy, where she spent six months. From then on, Lempicka would become a perpetual commuter between New York, Paris, Florence, Capri, Zurich, Monaco, Marrakech, and more.

1961 – Baron Kuffner dies of a heart attack on the ocean liner Liberté. A grieving Tamara sells her possessions and takes 3 world cruises. Moves to Houston, Texas to be close to Kizette and her daughter's family. Her daughter becomes her mother's business manager and social secretary and suffers from her mother's controlling and petulant behavior.

1962 - Exhibits at the Iolas gallery in New York. The show is a commercial fiasco and she determines never to show again and retire from the artistic profession.

1972 - The Art Deco revival brings her painting back into fashion. The Paris art dealer Alain Blondel arranges a retrospective exhibition at the galerie du Luxembourg.

1974 – Moves to Cuernavaca, Mexico where she lives in aging international set. Makes frequent changes in her will in order to keep her family on tenterhooks.

1980 - Dies in her sleep attended in her last 3 months by her recently widowed daughter. Her ashes were scattered over the Popocateptl volcano.

1985 - A play, "Tamara", inspired by her life is staged in Toronto and then Los Angeles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

 
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