À l’Opéra

Tamara de Lempicka(1898-1980)
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reference number: EP_007


oil on canvas

76.2 x 50.8 cm

signed and dated lower right: T. de Lempicka, 1941

Barry Friedman Ltd., New York, 1979
Wolfgang Joop, 1980
Private collection, USA

Tamara de Lempicka (Baroness de Kuffner), Julien Levy Galleries, New York, 7 April – 21 April 1941, n° 18; Courvoisier Galleries, San Francisco, 16 September – 30 September 1941, n°  7; Julien Levy Galleries, Los Angeles, 15 October – 2 November 1941
Tamara de Lempicka (Baroness Kuffner), Milwaukee Art Center, 2 March – 30 March 1942, n° 12
Tamara de Lempicka, Seibu Gallery, Tokyo & Osaka, January – March 1981
Tamara de Lempicka, Tra eleganza e trasgressione, Accademia di Francia (Villa Medici), Rome,  10 February – 1 May 1994; Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal, 16 June – 2 October 1994, n° 53
Tamara de Lempicka, Art Deco Icon, The Royal Academy, London, 15 May – 13 August 2004; Kunstforum, Vienna, 15 September 2004 – 2 January 2005, n° 55
Tamara de Lempicka, Palazzo Reale, Milan, 5 October 2006 – 18 February 2007, n° 51
Tamara de Lempicka, Casa das Artes, Vigo,  April – July 2007
Tamara de Lempicka: La regina del moderno, Complesso del Vittoriano, Rome 11 March – 10 July 2011, n° 63

Baron and Artist Wife to Become U.S. Citizens // Los Angeles Examiner, 24 March 1941, illustrated
A. Maurois (intr.), Tamara de Lempicka (Baroness de Kuffner) [exhibition catalogue], New York, San Francisco & Los Angeles, 1941
In Exhibition, Due Tuesday // San Francisco News, 13 September 1941, illustrated
Music and Art // San Francisco Examiner, 14 September 1941, illustrated
Lempicka Art at Courvoisier // San Francisco Call Bulletin, 18 September 1941
E. Hodel, Flawless Technique Revealed Paintings of Tamara de Lempicka // San Francisco News, 20 September 1941
Art and Artists. A Box at the Opera // Oakland Tribune, 21 September 1941, illustrated
C. Stull, The Art Galleries // San Francisco Chronicle, 21 September 1941
Baroness Art Display Impressive // San Francisco Examiner, 21 September 1941
A. May Cook, L.A. to View Lempicka Paintings // Los Angeles Evening Herald and Express,  4 October 1941, illustrated
Lempicka Art Mirrors Neo-Classicism School // Los Angeles Times, 19 October 1941, illustrated
A. Maurois (intr.), Tamara de Lempicka (Baroness Kuffner) [exhibition catalogue], Milwaukee, 1942, n° 12
A.S.B. De Ramos Meja, Tamara de Lempicka // Saber Vivir, February 1942, illustrated
By Famous Polish Painter // Milwaukee Journal, 8 March 1942, illustrated
G. Mandel, La pittrice Tamara de Lempicka, Milan, 1957, illustrated p. 12
G. Marmori, Tamara de Lempicka, Milan, 1978, p. 7
G. Bazin, H. Itsuki, Tamara de Lempicka, Tokyo, 1980, n° 89, illustrated in colour
W. Joop, Tamara de Lempicka, Träume von Mythen und Moden // Pan, Offenburg, May 1987, p. 17
K. de Lempicka-Foxhall, Ch. Phillips, Passion by Design: The Art and Times of Tamara de Lempicka, New York, 1987, illustrated p. 140
M. Calvesi, A. Borghese (eds.), Tamara de Lempicka, Tra eleganza e trasgressione [exhibition catalogue], Rome, 1994 , n° 53, illustrated in colour p. 90
A. Blondel, Tamara de Lempicka, Catalogue raisonné, 1921-1979, Lausanne, 1999, n° B.222, illustrated in colour p. 309
A. Blondel, I. Brugger (eds.), Tamara de Lempicka, Art Deco Icon [exhibition catalogue], London, 2004,  n° 55, illustrated in colour p. 124
P. Bade, Lempicka, New York, 2006, illustrated p. 201
G. Mori, Tamara de Lempicka [exhibition catalogue], Milan, 2006, n° 51, illustrated in colour​​
G. Mori, Tamara De Lempicka: The Queen of Modern [exhibition catalogue], Rome, 2011, n° 63, pp. 281–283, illustrated in colour​​


In March 1939, Tamara de Lempicka arrived in New York along with her latest paintings. Among these pieces was yet unfinished At the Opera, which she had started before leaving Europe. The painting is preceded by a study in pencil dated 1937, with significant differences compared with the final portrait. The painting was first presented in 1941 at the Julian Levy Galleries in New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. The exhibition announcement in the Los Angeles Examiner on 24 March 1941 contained a photo of Lempicka in her studio in Beverly Hills in front of this canvas. The painting’s more overtly visual elements, which in certain elements resemble the neo-Baroque, nevertheless render it a wonderful example of the Art Deco movement, of which Lempicka was the most prominent and influential woman.


The painting comes from the collection of German fashion designer Wolfgang Joop, one of the most passionate collectors of Lempicka’s work. The picture was particularly admired by Andy Warhol, who was the under-bidder at the sale in which Joop acquired the painting. ‘I whisked away the first picture, Dans l’Opera, from under Andy Warhol’s nose,’ later commented Joop. Among other works by Lempicka in Joop’s collection were portraits of the Duchesse de la Salle, Marjorie Ferry, Mademoiselle Poum Rachou, and Arlette Boucard aux Arums – the finest group of paintings ever to appear on market.


Lempicka claimed to have been born in Poland in 1902, though scholars now believe she was, in fact, born in Moscow in 1895. Her wealthy family emigrated to Paris just prior to World War I, and it was here, surrounded by famous avant-garde artists, that she developed her unique style. Lempicka’s earliest influence was academic. She trained at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière under French painter Maurice Denis, who taught her the principles of Les Nabis: a group of Post-Impressionist artists who stressed the importance of graphic art and design within painting.


Characterised by bold compositions, theatrical lighting, decorative emphasis on pattern, and sensual modelling, Lempicka’s paintings are instantly recognisable. Best known for her striking portraits of glamorous women, Lempicka’s work captured the spirit of the Hollywood age yet infused her paintings with Baroque and Renaissance techniques, a synthesis of tradition and contemporary attitudes.

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