Who was Tamara de Lempicka? Google Doodle celebrates the Baroness with a Brush

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Tamara de Lempicka, the Polish painter known for her Art Deco work that portrayed Jazz Age high society, has been honoured in the Google Doodle for May 16, 2018.

Also known as the Baroness with a Brush, Tamara de Lempicka’s style paid tribute to the Roaring Twenties and her paintings are being celebrated on what would have been her 120th birthday.

From being a refugee who was forced to move from St. Petersburg to Paris after the Russian Revolution began, she completed her training in art under the likes of French painters André Lhote. But who was Tamara de Lempicka.

Who was Tamara de Lempicka?

Born Maria Gorska on May 16, 1868 in Warsaw, then part of Congress Poland, Tamara’s first portrait was of her sister after she was dissatisfied with the work of an artist that her mother had commissioned.

In 1911, she attended a boarding school in Lausanne, Switzerland but soon left after she expressed her dislike for the establishment.

Tamara was then taken on a tour of Italy by her grandmother, where her interest in art developed and after the divorce of her parents, she returned to Lausanne but did not spend the holidays with her family in protest of the separation.

She spent her summers with her Aunt Stefa in St Petersburg and in 1915, Tamara met a Polish lawyer, Tadeusz Lempicki. After her family offered him a large dowry, they married in 1916.

However, during the time of the Russian Revolution, Tadeusz was arrested by the Cheka and Tamara was forced to search prisons for him with the help of the Swedish consul and secured his release.

They traveled to Copenhagen, London and Paris and after their daughter Kizette was born, Tamara decided to become a painter and went on to study at the Académie de la Grand Chaumière with Maurice Denis and then, André Lhote.

This photo shows Portrait of Ira P. painted by Tamara de Lempicka in 1930, capturing the essence of modernism and the Art Deco spirit in Paris during 20's and 30's

This photo shows Portrait of Ira P. painted by Tamara de Lempicka in 1930, capturing the essence of modernism and the Art Deco spirit in Paris during 20’s and 30’s

Tamara de Lempicka paintings

Tamara’s first paintings were portraits of her daughter and neighbour and she sold them through the Galerie Colette-Weil, that allowed her to exhibit her work at a number of galleries.

Her breakthrough came when her work was exhibited at the International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts and she was spotted by journalists from Harper’s Bazaar.

After showing off her work in Milan, where she met the poet Gabriele d’Annunzio, Tamara’s paintings grew in popularity. Around the same time, she divorced Tadeusz and became the mistress of the art collector, Baron Raoul Kuffner.

They met after the Baron had commissioned a portrait of his then-girlfriend Nana de Herrera, but Tamara soon took her place and they later married in Zurich in 1934.

Gallery technicians at Sotheby's auction house seen here lifting a painting by Tamara de Lempicka entitled Portrait de Marjorie Ferry from 1932, expected to fetch up to £4 million, in 2009 in London

Gallery technicians at Sotheby’s auction house seen here lifting a painting by Tamara de Lempicka entitled Portrait de Marjorie Ferry from 1932, expected to fetch up to £4 million, in 2009 in London

Her self-portrait, Tamara in a Green Bugatti, appeared on the cover of German fashion magazine Die Dame in 1929 and her first American show at the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh was a hit, but the Wall Street crash wiped out the proceeds.

During the 1930s, she painted the likes of King Alfonso XIII of Spain and Queen Elizabeth of Greece and her style that was perceived as post-Cubist and neoclassical grew in demand.

After settling in Los Angeles, California and having sold off the Baron’s properties in Hungary during the Second World War, the pair remained popular but her work was not as respected with the movement of abstract expressionism having taken over.

Tamara de Lempicka’s cause of death

Baron Kuffner died of a heart attack on an ocean liner in 1961 and Tamara moved to Houston, Texas with Kizette and her husband, a geologist.

Tamara then lived in Cuernavaca, Mexico until she passed away in her sleep on March 18, 1980.

Victoria De Lempicka, grand-daughter of the artist Tamara De Lempicka, seen here standing in front of Adam and Eve (1931) which is part of the Art Deco Icon exhibition at The Royal Academy of Arts in London

Victoria De Lempicka, grand-daughter of the artist Tamara De Lempicka, seen here standing in front of Adam and Eve (1931) which is part of the Art Deco Icon exhibition at The Royal Academy of Arts in London

What is a Google Doodle?

Tamara de Lempicka has been honoured in the Google Doodle for May 16, 2018 with illustrations by Matthew Cruickshank.

Tamara de Lempicka has been honoured in the Google Doodle for May 16, 2018 with illustrations by Matthew Cruickshank

Tamara de Lempicka has been honoured in the Google Doodle for May 16, 2018 with illustrations by Matthew Cruickshank

Matthew pays homage to the artist and said: ‘Few artists embodied the exuberant roaring twenties more than Polish artist Tamara de Lempicka.

‘Her fast paced, opulent lifestyle manifests itself perfectly into the stylized Art-Deco subjects she celebrated in her paintings.

‘I first encountered Lempicka’s work at her Royal Academy show in London, 2004. I was struck by the scale and skill of her paintings coupled with her life (as colorful as her work!).

‘I chose to place a portrait of Lempicka in my design with accompanying motifs evocative of the roaring ’20s and ’30s. It’s no easy feat to recreate any artists work – but I hope to have done so here.’

Early concepts of the Tamara de Lempicka Google Doodle, illustrated by Matthew Cruickshank shown here 

A Google Doodle will celebrate events around the world with illustrations on the Google homepage and is incorporated into the Google logo.

Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin marked their visit to the 1998 Burning Man Festival in California with the first ever Doodle and this was their way of letting users know they were ‘out-of-office’.

Today, team of illustrators, designers, animators and artists, like Matthew Cruickshank, work on the Google Doodles and the logos are hyperlinked to a page that provides more information about the cultural event celebrated.