Autoportrait (Tamara in a Green Bugatti)

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Autoportrait (Self-Portrait in a Green Bugatti)
Tamara de Lempicka, Autoportrait (Tamara in a Green Bugatti).jpeg
ArtistTamara de Lempicka
MediumOil on panel
Dimensions35 cm × 26.6 cm (13 (3/4) in × 10.5 in)
LocationPrivate Collection, Switzerland

Autoportrait (Tamara in a Green Bugatti) is a self-portrait by the Polish artist Tamara de Lempicka, which she painted in Paris in 1929. It was commissioned by the German fashion magazine 'Die Dame for the cover of the magazine, to celebrate the independence of women. It is one of the best-known examples of Art Deco portrait painting.


In 1929, Lempicka was commissioned to make a self-portrait for the cover of the German fashion magazine, Die Dame. This showed her at the wheel of a Bugatti racing car, wearing a leather helmet and gloves and wrapped in a gray scarf; she portrayed herself as a portrait of cold beauty, independence, wealth and inaccessibility.[1] In fact she did not own a Bugatti automobile; her own car was a small yellow Renault, which was stolen one night when she and her friends were celebrating at Café de la Rotonde in Montparnasse.[2]

Portrait Details[edit]

Cockpit of a Bugatti type 43. The steering wheel was actually on the right, not the left, as shown in the painting

De Lempicka did not own a Bugatti; her own car was a small yellow Renault. In her portrait de Lempicka modified the car, placing the driver on the left side, closer to the artist. The Bugatti models 43 and 46 of that period actually had the steering wheel on the right side.


Tamara studied her painting skills among the prevalent art and literature movements of Avant-Garde, Neo-Cubism, Futurism, and Art Deco of the "Lost Generation".[3] She studied at the Académie Ranson under Maurice Denis, although she only credits him for her draftsmanship skills. One of her main influences was Avant-Garde, Neo-cubist André Lhote (professor to De Lempicka at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière).[4]


A popular German fashion magazine, Die Dame, was quite familiar with Tamara’s work as far as her fashion etchings. The female editor of Die Dame encountered Tamara in Monte Carlo while the almost-divorced baroness was on vacation and commissioned De Lempicka to paint a self-portrait for an upcoming cover. Tamara replaced her yellow Renault with a green Bugatti because she felt as though a green Bugatti appeared more elite and more beautiful.[5]


  1. ^ Lempicka-Foxhall 1987, p. 77.
  2. ^ Néret 2016, p. 7.
  3. ^ Gioia Mori, "Tamara de Lempicka: The Queen of Modern," 22.
  4. ^ Blondel and Brugger, "Tamara de Lempicka: Art Deco Icon," 33.
  5. ^ Kizette De Lempicka-Foxhall and Charles Phillips, Passion by Design: The Art and Times of Tamara De Lempicka, 77.


  • Birnbaum, Paula. Tamara De Lempicka: The Modern Woman Personified. 2012. ISSN 2391-7911
  • Blondel, Alain; Brugger, Ingried (2004), Tamara de Lempicka: Art Deco Icon, London: Royal Academy Books.
  • Chadwick, Whitney; Birnbaum, Paula de (2003), The Modern Woman Revisted: Paris between the Wars, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press.
  • Claridge, Laura (1999), Tamara de Lempicka: A Life of Deco and Decadence, New York: Random House.
  • Lempicka-Foxhall, Kizette (1987), Phillips, Charles (ed.), Passion by Design: The Art and Times of Tamara de Lempicka, New York: Abbeville Press.
  • Mori, Gioia (2011), Tamara de Lempicka: The Queen of Modern, Milano: Skira Editore.
  • Néret, Gilles (2016). Tamara de Lempicka - Déesse de l'ère automobile (in French). Taschen. ISBN 978-3-8365-3225-9.