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University of Texas at Austin

Pavel Tchelitchew:

An Inventory of His Art Collection at the Harry Ransom Center

Creator: Tchelitchew, Pavel, 1898-1957
Title: Pavel Tchelitchew Art Collection
Dates: circa 1933-1939, undated
Extent: 5 oversize folders, 1 framed painting
Abstract: The Pavel Tchelitchew Art Collection includes six original works, three drawings and three paintings, by Pavel Tchelitchew.
Call Number: Art Collection AR-00270
Language: English
Access: Open for research. A minimum of twenty-four hours is required to pull art materials to the Reading Room.

Administrative Information

Acquisition: In part purchase (R938).
Processed by: Alice Egan, 1997; Lauren Algee, 2010

Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin

Biographical Sketch

Pavel Tchelitchew was a painter and stage designer of Russian birth, who lived and worked in Russia, France, and the United States. Educated by private tutors, he drew from an early age and attended art classes at the University of Moscow from 1916 to 1918. Moving south in 1918 to avoid the Revolution, he studied at the Kiev Academy until 1920 and worked with Alexandra Exter. In 1920, he moved to Odessa, where he worked in the theater, and then, in 1921, to Berlin, where he again supported himself with theater work and began to paint still lifes, figures, and portraits.
From 1923, Tchelitchew lived in Paris, where he abandoned the brightly colored Cubo-Futurist influence of Exter in favor of a more realistic representation of objects that served as as symbols of cosmic order, a style that was greatly indebted to Russian symbolist painting. He became the ideologue of a small band of artists, who became associated with the term Néo-Humanisme in France (Neo-Romanticism in the United States). The group specialized in dream-like landscapes and figures in somber tones; they included Eugene Berman and his brother Leonid Berman, Christian Bérard, and André Lanskoy.
Tchelitchew was introduced to the writer Edith Sitwell in the salon of Gertrude Stein and their relationship became one of the most influential in Sitwell's life. He was captivated by Edith's presence and later painted her portrait several times. Over many years she served him as muse, mother, and impresario in a tumultuous and (for her, likely unfulfilling) platonic relationship.
Tchelitchew sought to define an imagery of the soul's journey to immortality. Basing his model of Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise on the vision of Renaissance Neo-Platonists, he created an allegory of the spirit in a lengthy sequence of pictures. The series was still unfinished at his death. In Hide and Seek, Tchelitchew's most celebrated canvas, he related the seasons to procreation and growth by merging plant and human forms.
From 1919 to 1942, Tchelitchew also earned a reputation as one of the most innovative stage designers of the period. His work was particularly admired for its novel use of new materials and dramatic lighting effects.
Tchelitchew lived in the United States beginning in 1934 and became an American citizen in 1952, just before moving to Italy. His fragile health kept him abroad until his death on July 31, 1957.


Prokopoff, Stephen S. "Tchelitchew, Pavel."Oxford Art Online, (accessed 13 April 2010).
Jones, Richard. "The Art of Being a Sitwell."The Virginia Quarterly Review, Summer 1980: 470-485.

Scope and Contents

The Pavel Tchelitchew Art Collection includes six original works, three drawings and three paintings, by Pavel Tchelitchew. Three of the works are portraits of well-known figures in the literary and artistic circles of Paris in the 1930s: Edith Sitwell, Parker Tyler, and Charles Henri Ford. Three additional works include a design for a book cover for Sitwell, a still life of a head of lettuce, and a surreal image of a woman and infant.
The works are listed by date and grouped by subject. Titles are transcribed from the items; cataloger's titles appear in brackets.

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