Series of Numbers
Romain de Tirtoff, known as Erté (1892-1990)
The plates feature the numbers from 0 to 9 readapted by Erté into sinuous female figures: ballerinas, mermaids, and beautiful ladies bending and writhing gracefully. The brightly coloured figures stand out on a light background and are surrounded by a dark frame made up of irregular repetitions of the number represented at the centre of the plate. Romain de Tirtoff, known as Erté for the French pronunciation of his initials, was born in Russia and moved to Paris in 1912 when he was only nineteen. He began as a stylist and draughtsman of fashion dresses and later came into contact with the milieus of theatre and cinema, reinventing refined stage costumes (such as those for Marion Davies), sets, and curtains. He worked with important magazines, in particular with Harper's Bazaar, for whom he produced as many as two hundred covers between 1915 and 1937. Erté, heir to the great Liberty and Art Nouveau illustrators, officially codified the Art Deco figure, creating the model of the 1920's woman.