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Marie Laurencin
b. 1883, Paris, France
d. 1956, Paris, France

 

Marie Laurencin was a French Modernist painter. Although she often exhibited with the Cubists of early twentieth-century Paris, her style was distinctly figurative. She is well known for her soft, pastel portraits of pale, doe-eyed women. Laurencin’s career began in 1903, when she enrolled in the Hubert Academy in Paris with the intention of learning porcelain decoration. However, one of her classmates recognized her innate talent and encouraged her to paint instead. This classmate, although at the time was merely an ambitious but unknown twenty-one year old, was none other than Georges Braque. Three years after graduating form the Hubert Academy, Marie Laurencin exhibited at the Salon des Indépendants and had her first solo show, which caught the eye of dealer Clovis Sago. He in turn introduced her to Pablo Picasso, who in turn introduced Laurencin to the Paris School of artists. She was Guillame Apollinaire’s lover and muse for more than half a decade, and famously painted a portrait of him surrounded by his friends Picasso, his lover Fernande Olivier, his dog Fricka, and Marie Laurencin herself. Gertrude Stein immediately purchased the painting upon completion, and so Laurencin painted another one, this time also including Stein and a few other friends. Apollinaire kept the second version for himself. 

In 1912, she participated in the Section d’Or exhibition at the Galerie la Boétie in Paris (along with Fernand Léger, Marcel Duchamp, Juan Gris, Francis Picabia, and Robert Delaunay), and in 1913, she exhibited at the Armory Show in New York—the significant moment when the American public was first introduced to French Modernism. The following year, Laurencin moved to Germany after having married German painter and baron, Otto von Waëtgen. She was not allowed back into France until 1921, due to ongoing hostilities following World War I. However, while in Germany, Laurencin divorced von Waëtgen, and dedicated herself to her art with extra vigor. Upon her return to Paris, Paul Rosenberg represented Marie Laurencin.

Laurencin’s work is held in some of the world’s finest public collections of art, including The Philadelphia Museum of Art; The Tate Gallery, London; The National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; and The Art Institute of Chicago.