Marie Laurencin, French (1885 - 1956)

Marie Laurencin

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, among others.


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 poète.


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 prominent figure.


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 maids.


1932-35 Teaches at the art academy Villa Malakoff in the 16th arrondissement.


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.

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