Tamara de Lempica. Madonna and Jack Nicholson collected the paintings of the Polish artist

Theatrical, elegant, somewhat distinctive and infernal talented modern woman of the 1920s, she was creating her own personal legend all her life. Tamara Chimpica, nicknamed the “Brush Baroness”, hid a lot of information about her past and made up almost everything related to her private life. She didn’t keep diaries and didn’t leave many letters, but she was obsessed with collecting all the press clippings about herself. Laura Claridge, author of the autobiographical book “Tamara Łempicka. Art and Scandal”, tried to find out what was really one of the most remarkable artists of the twentieth century.

Tamara Chimpica: Madonna and Jack Nicholson combined her paintings

In the past few years, three paintings by Tamara Łembicka have been sold for a total amount of PLN 166 million, which puts the artist at the top of the list of best-selling artists of Polish origin. In February 2020, a painting “Portrait of Marjorie Ferry” from 1932, depicting a British cabaret artist, was auctioned at Christie’s in London for 82 million zlotys, becoming the most expensive painting by a Polish artist.


Tamara Chimpica “Portrait of Marjorie Ferry”

Photo: Getty Images

A year ago, the price of the painting “La Musicienne” reached thirty-four million zlotys, and in November 2019, fifty million zlotys were paid for the painting “La tunique rose”. In 2018, Tamara Simbica’s paintings sold for more than $16.4 million, making the artist the 8th most valuable painter in the world (both living and dead). Her most important collectors include Jack Nicholson, Barbra Streisand, Madonna and Jerry Moss. She made 500 oil paintings and 150 drawings and watercolors.

Tamara Łempicka obraz i biografia / Getty Images

Tamara Łempicka obraz i biografia / Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

Tamara Simbica is considered one of the most expressive artists of the 20th century, but is often overlooked by the great encyclopedias of modern art. Her paintings were influenced by French Cubist and Renaissance artists, but she managed to create her own style, which today is most often referred to as painting. art deco.

For almost fifty years, the work of Tamara Chimpica has been somewhat forgotten. The boom came in March 1994, when the painting “Adam and Eve” was sold at auction at Christie’s auction house in New York for one million nine hundred and eighty thousand dollars. On that day, Tamara Chimpica was back in the center of attention again!

Tamara de Lempica with photos and biography

Tamara de Lempica with photos and biography

Photo: Getty Images

Biography of Tamara de Lempica

The artist stated that she was born on May 16, 1898 in Warsaw, although in fact her hometown is Moscow. She often lied (like many of Tamara’s women) about her age. Testimonies and family documents allow us to partially recreate the genealogy of her family, so it can be said with certainty that Tamara Sembica was born in 1885 and has two brothers – Stanisław and Adriana. In her adult life, the artist always presented herself as a Polish woman from Warsaw, although she spent most of her teenage life in Russia. She may have inherited a strong sense of Polish identity from her mother and spent a lot of time as a child on her grandparents’ estate in Warsaw.

Young Tamara de Lempica, like other representatives of high society, traveled a lot, visited Paris, Berlin, Vienna, Rome and St. Petersburg, spent time at grandiose concerts, played the piano, studied painting in the best European museums, and ordered costumes from the famous designer Paul Poiret, residing in Paris. At the age of sixteen she met her future husband, 22-year-old lawyer, Tadeusz Chembeki. In 1916, the couple married, and in Tamara Shimbika she began to take drawing lessons at the prestigious Academy of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg.

At the same time, she gave birth to her only daughter, Kizzet. The couple enjoyed a comfortable life, and seemed to overlook the increasingly dramatic events unfolding in Europe and Russia at the time. In 1917, after the communists overthrew the Russian monarchy, Tadeus was arrested, and Tamara decided to go to Copenhagen with her family. During this time, Tamara entered into her first love affair (which she remembered proudly all her life) with the Siam ambassador and added “Di” to her last name to raise her profile.

In 1918, Tamara Chimpica moved with her husband and daughter to Paris. Thanks to the jewels brought across the border, the artist supported her family for several months, after which, at the request of her sister, she began studying at the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere and began to earn a living by selling paintings.

Tamara de Lempica with photos and biography

Tamara de Lempica with photos and biography

Photo: Getty Images

The first two pieces of fabric, “Woman with Dwarves” and “Portrait of a Young Woman in a Blue Dress,” received great recognition. Only three years after the decision was made, Tamara Chimpica was accepted by the jury of the Autumn Salon. She lived in Montparnasse, the place where modernist art arose and where representatives of Bohemia met, and for the first time felt that the city belonged to her.

Tamara de Lempica. “modern woman”

Tamara Shimbika became a modern woman, who participated in the life of the cafe, painted every day and rapidly developed as an artist. She smoked three packs of cigarettes a day, went to nightclubs and nightclubs prohibited in the evening, engaged in decadent orgies and was not shy about cocaine. She was dating Joyce, Cocteau, Colette, Jed, and Isadora Duncan at the famous Natalie Barney salon. Thanks to this society, she did not complain about the lack of orders for new images – she painted representatives of the intelligentsia, wealthy people and aristocrats. She made an exception for beautiful women, in which case their status did not matter to Tamara. The female nudes she painted provided a new kind of eroticism for painting—the thickly sculpted faces, bright lipstick, and polished nails were emanations of a new woman referring to how she was portrayed in the press.

At the end of the 1920s, Tamara Shimbica began to cooperate with the German women’s magazine “De Dam”, thanks to which she became known to a wider audience. The cover of this magazine featured the famous Bugatti green selfie. After the divorce from Tadeusz, Łempicka married Baron Kuffner and in the early 1930s left for New York. After returning to Paris, financial, professional and personal problems began. The empicka suffered from a deep depression, but drawing saved her again.

Tamara de Lempica. Favorite hollywood artist

In 1939, with her second husband, she left Europe, the theme of her paintings also changed – instead of aristocrats and beautiful women, Shimbika began to take an interest in religion and the perception of poverty. The “Baroness with the Brush” quickly became the favorite artist in Hollywood. Her admirers included Dolores del Rio, Tyrone Bauer and George Sanders. After World War II, Tamara’s painting was met with more criticism and less attention.

In 1980, Kesette, carrying out her mother’s will, scattered the ashes of Tamara over the crater of the Popocatépetl volcano.

See also:

When her husband slept, she crept into her lover’s bedroom. The unknown face of two Polish writers

When Agatha Christie discovered her husband’s affair, she disappeared for 11 days and pretended to be his lover

The shortest marriage in Hollywood history. Valentino with his wife… 6 hours

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