Marie Laurencin, French (1885 - 1956)
October 31, 1883 Born in Paris,
the illegitimate daughter of Pauline Laurencin and Alfred Toulet.
She would not learn her father’s identity officially until
she was 22, eight years after his death.
1902-03 Having been last in all of her subjects at the Lycée
Lamartine, Laurencin studied porcelain painting at the Sèvres
factory. She later enters the Académie Humbert, where
she meets Georges Braque and Georges Lepape.
1907 Exhibits at Clovis Sagot’s gallery in Montmartre.
There, Pablo Picasso introduces Laurencin to Guillaume Apollinaire,
with whom she would be romantically involved until 1913. Throughout
the course of their relationship, both would serve as a source
of artistic inspiration for the other. Through Picasso and Apollinaire,
Laurencin frequents the Bateau Lavoir, where she forms the acquaintances
of Fernande Olivier, Max Jacob, André Salmon, Maurice
Raynal, Maurice Cremnitz, Gertrude Stein, and André Derain,
1908 Group of Artists is purchased by Gertrude Stein, Laurencin’s
first sale. The painting is a group portrait of Laurencin, Apollinaire,
Picasso and his mistress, Fernande Olivier.
1909 Paints a larger version of Group of Artists entitled Apollinaire
and His Friends, to which Laurencin has added the figures of
the poets Marguerite Gillot and Maurice Cremnitz. She gives
this version to Apollinaire. Apollinaire encourages Laurencin
to publish two of her poems, “Hier” (Yesterday)
and “Présent,” which she does under the pseudonym
Louise Lalanne in the poetry review Les Marges. She and Apollinaire
pose for Henri Rousseau’s painting La Muse inspirant le
1911 Exhibits Portrait of Mme Fernande X and Young Girls with
the Cubists in Gallery 41 in the Salon des Indépendants.
Laurencin also creates the illustrations for the book Un Petit
brévaire d’amour. The first such artistic venture,
she would later go on to illustrate over eighty books.
1913 Laurencin’s relationship with Apollinaire ends, signaling
the end of her Cubist-inspired period. Laurencin’s mother
dies. Laurencin establishes a contract with the prominent art
dealer Paul Rosenberg, who also handled Matisse, Picasso, and
Braque. Their contract would last until 1940. Apollinaire’s
book of poems, Alcools with several poems referring to Laurencin,
is published, as is Les Peintres cubists, in which she is a
June 22, 1914 Marries the German Baron Otto von Wätjen,
whom she had met the previous year.
1914-20 Upon the outbreak of World War I, the couple flee into
exile in Spain, spending time in both Madrid and Barcelona,
and later Germany. During that time, Laurencin associated with
the artists Sonia and Robert Delaunay and Francis Picabia. She
contributes some poems to Picabia’s art review, 391 in
1917. Laurencin is distraught upon learning the news of Apollinaire’s
death in 1918.
1921 Returns from exile to Paris, marking the beginning of an
intense period of artistic creativity. Later that year, Laurencin
divorces von Wätjen.
1923-24 Designs the set and costumes for Les Biches for the
Ballets Russes, which premiers in Monte Carlo and is later shown
at the Théâtre Champs-Elysées in Paris to
much acclaim. Laurencin also designs the set and costumes for
the ballet Les Roses. At this time, Laurencin is much in demand
as a costume and set designer, as well as a society portraitist,
whose clients includes Coco Chanel.
1925 Laurencin decides to take responsibility for raising and
educating Suzanne Moreau, the young daughter of one of Laurencin’s
1932-35 Teaches at the art academy Villa Malakoff in the 16th
1942 Publishes Le Carnet des nuits, a collection of reminiscences
and poems from her youth and early part of her career.
1944 Laurencin’s apartment on rue Savorgnan de Brazza
is requisitioned by the Germans. She would not regain the apartment
until three years before her death.
June 2, 1954 Officially adopts Suzanne Moreau as her daughter.
June 8, 1956 Dies in her apartment in Paris. She is buried in
the cemetery Père-Lachaise according to her wishes, dressed
in white with a rose in one hand and Apollinaire’s love
letters by her heart.