MARIE VASSILIEF (1884-1957)  

'Roof Tops - Fontarabie' 1915


Marie Vassilieff: She was born in Smolensk, Russia to a prosperous family who encouraged her to study medicine. Her natural instincts, however, were for the arts and, in 1903 she switched to the study of art at the Academy in St. Petersburg. 1905 she visited the artistic capital of the world, Paris, France. Two years later, she moved to Paris, taking a job as a correspondent for several Russian newspapers while studying painting under Henri Matisse and attending classes at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts. In 1912 she opened her own atelier in Montparnasse. It became the nexus for those at the cutting-edge of art at the time, when Erik Satie, Henri Matisse, Nina Hamnett, Amedeo Modigliani, Ossip Zadkine, Olga Sacharoff, Juan Gris, and Chaim Soutine started dropping by in the evenings for conversation and occasionally to draw.
Marie Vassilieff's own artwork is primarily in the Cubist style, her most interesting paintings are portraits of dancers as well as those of her friends, Jean Cocteau, Picasso, and Matisse. Known, too, for her decorative furniture pieces and her doll-portraits, Vassilieff's works remain very popular. Although her works never gained the lofty stature or astounding prices of some of her renowned contemporaries, today they may be found in museums and private collections worldwide. After several exhibitions in London in 1928 and 1930, and in Italy in 1929, she opened the Vassilieff Museum. Friends with Alfred Jarry, she organized a homage to him. Marie Vassilieff died at a home for elderly artists in Nogent-sur-Marne, Île-de-France, France.