Set in the glamourous 1920’s Paris art world, it tells the story of the real-life Art Deco painter Tamara de Lempicka through the eyes of her lover, model and muse, the Italian-American Rafaela Fano. One of de Lempicka’s portraits of Rafaela (“The Dream”) graces the cover of the book.
There are so many Paris treats in this book, from the original Shakespeare & Co., to houseboats on the Seine, to a character modeled after Ernest Hemingway, that I just couldn’t resist planning my own Last Nude Literary Tour of Paris. I’ll be sharing some of my photos and impressions from my tour over the next week, along with a sneak peek into a deleted excerpt from the book.
Tamara de Lempicka’s Fictional Apartment and Studio:
Tamara de Lempicka’s fictional apartment and art studio stands at 63 rue de Varenne in the 7th arrondissement on the Left Bank. Ellis Avery states that she selected this site because it would have had good northern light for painting. The address is directly across the street from the low-slung Hotel des Castries. It also happens to be down the street from one of the Paris homes of Edith Wharton at 53 rue de Varenne. What a lovely make-believe address for Tamara, a wealthy Russian aristocrat who enjoyed mingling with the champagne-sipping art collectors of Paris.
Tamara’s Real Life Paris Home
In real life, Tamara de Lempicka moved from St. Petersburg to Paris with her first husband in order to escape the Bolshevik revolution of 1917. They had one daughter and were soon divorced. Tamara first lived at 5 rue Guy du Maupassant in the 16th, then at 7 rue Mechain in the 14th, in a building she herself designed. I enjoyed taking an afternoon to walk through the La Muette area of the 16th, a very posh area full of bustling bistros and beautiful apartment buildings. Check out the nice lines of the doorway to Tamara’s first building on Maupassant.
Stay tuned for more Paris scenes from The Last Nude. In the meantime, why don’t you pick up a copy from your closest independent bookstore and start reading along? I highly recommend it.