Sonia Delaunay (1885-1979): French artist.
Born in Ukraine, daughter of a Jewish factory owner, she was brought up
by an uncle in St Petersburg [now Leningrad].
At first determined to be a mathematician, she then studied under the draughtsman
Schmidt-Reutte in Karlsruhe (1903-4)
and arrived in Paris in 1905. Inspired by Van Gogh, Gauguin and the Fauves,
she was recognized as a bold, innovative artist
and became friendly with Picasso, Braque and Derain. In 1909 she married the art critic Wilhelm Uhde, and after their
marriage of convenience was ended in 1910, became the wife of painter Robert
Delaunay, their son was born in 1911.
Together they developed the techniques of Orphism, and Simultanism, based
on abstract harmonies of colours and design.
A versatile artist, she illustrated the poems of Cendrars, exhibited paintings at the Salon des Independents,
decorated pottery and, after the loss of her family fortune in the Russian
Revolution of 1917, made a living by designing textiles,
dresses and book-bindings. She was also associated with Diaghilev's Ballets
Russes, and designed dresses with Heim for the
Exposition des Arts Decoratifs in 1925.During the 1930s the Delaunays concentrated on paintings, collaborating on vast murals
for the Paris Exposition of 1937, and moving to the Auvergne in 1940.
After Robert's death in 1941, Sonia lived with Hans and Sophie Arp and
the Magnellis at Grasse and then at Toulouse.
In 1953 she had her first solo exhibition since one which Uhde had arranged
in 1916, and her works were then exhibited an over the world.
During the 1970s many of her 1920 textiles were revived by major designers.
She is the only woman to have had an exhibition at the Louvre in her own lifetime (1964).