Marie Laurencin 

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Biography of Marie Laurencin  ( 1883-1956 )

Marie Laurencin was a French painter and engraver, who first studied with the painter Louis Jouas-Poutrel in a Parisian school and also learned to paint on porcelain in Sèvres from 1901 to 1903. In 1904, she joined the Humbert’s Academy where she had Georges Braque, Francis Picabia and Georges Lepage as fellow students. The latters admired her talent for painting and encouraged her to continue her artistic career while her mother wasn’t agree with her aspirations to become an independent woman painter.

Marie Laurencin was 20 when she met Henri-Pierre Roché, who became briefly her lover and was staying her mentor for a long time. He helped to distribute her artworks and introduced her to many operators of the Parisian pictorial stage.

In 1907, she met a very influent art dealer named Clovis Sagot who offered her to exhibit in his gallery situated on 46, rue Laffitte in Paris IX. There, her paintings were very noticed by all the artists of that time, and particularly by Pablo Picasso who was inspired the works of the young artist. Picasso introduced her to Guillaume Apollinaire who became her lover for many years. On the same year, she took part in her first Salon des Indépendants, next to Picasso, Derain and Le Douanier.

Then in 1913, Marie Laurencin met Baron Otto von Wätjen and married him the year after. In the beginning of the WWI, the young couple exiled to Spain. They settled first in Madrid and after in Barcelona ; this exile went to 1919. Marie was very nostalgic of her Parisian life, Madrid wasn’t on her taste, so in 1917 she went to Barcelona to join Francis Picabia and his wife Gabrielle Buffet. Thanks to her friendship with the latters, Marie Laurencin exhibited to the Modern Gallery in New York in 1917 and published two poems in Picabia’s Dada magazine.

Back to Paris in 1920, she established deep and vivid links with many writers for wich she made illustrations. For exemple, she illustrated books for Gide, Max Jacob, Marcel Jouhandeau, Jean Paulhan, Lewis Carroll, Henri-Pierre Roché.

Marie Laurencin became the official portrait painter of the urban feminine circle (Nicole Groult, Coco Chanel) in the 1920’s. She was regularly exhibited in the Rosenberg Gallery next to Braque, Matisse and Picasso and joined in the Durand Ruel exhibition in New York, and the Petit Palais’s one that gathered together the masters of Independant Art in 1937. On the same year, Marie Laurencin was awarded with the Legion of Honor, the French State purchased the artwork named « La répétition » and ordered her for a print, « Les Fêtes de la danse ».

Marie Laurencin also distinguished herself as a decorator for the ballet « Les Biches » by Serge Diaghilev, and for the Opera Comique, the Comédie Française and the Roland Petit’s ballets in the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées. She created the label for Château Mouton Rothschild in 1948 too.

She was a very appreciated artist in the Parisian society, independant woman painter, she imposed her own pictorial style, separated from the masculine avant-gardiste’s sphere. Her style was characterised by a particular use of fluid and smooth colors, an increasing simplification of the arrangement and a predilection for some lying and graceful feminine forms.

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