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Author photo. Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Carl Van Vechten collection

Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Carl Van Vechten collection

Marie Laurencin (1886–1956)

Author of Marie Laurencin

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Marie Laurencin was born and raised in Paris. At 18, she began to study porcelain painting at the Sèvres factory. She then returned to Paris and continued her art education with the flower painter Madelaine Lemaire and at the Académie Humbert. She became an important figure in the Parisian avant-garde, and a friend and associate of painters and poets such as Picasso, Braque, Gris, Max Jacob, and André Salmon. She exhibited her work at the Salon des Indépendants (1910-1911) and the Salon d'Automne (1911-1912). She was romantically involved with poet Guillaume Apollinaire, and is often identified as his muse. She also was connected with the salon of American expatriate and writer Natalie Clifford Barney. During World War I, Laurencin left France for exile in Spain with her German-born husband, Baron Otto von Waëtjen. After their divorce in 1920, she returned to Paris, where she achieved success as a society portrait painter. She also received a commission from Serge Diaghilev in 1923 to provide costume and set designs for Francis Poulenc’s ballet Les Biches. Her later stage designs included those for Alfred de Musset’s comedy A Quoi rêvent les jeunes filles in 1928 and for the ballet Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe in 1945. She also illustrated books, including Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland (1930) and Paul Verlaine’s Fêtes galantes (1944).
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