Date of birth
1885
Place of birth
Gradiesk, Russia
Date of death
1979
Place of death
Paris
Nationality
France
Biography

Sonia Delaunay was born Sarah Elievna Stern in Gradižsk, then part of the Russian Empire (today Ukraine), to Jewish parents. She lived with her uncle and aunt in St Petersburg from a young age and was formally adopted by them in 1890 at which time her name was changed to Sonia Terk. Demonstrating artistic proficiency during her schooling, at age 16 she was sent to Germany to study at the Academy of Fine Arts in Karlsruhe. She relocated to Paris in 1905 to continue her artistic studies and married fellow artist Robert Delaunay in 1910. In Paris Delaunay was closely associated with the cubists and she and Robert were proponents of Orphism – a style of cubism which focussed on pure abstraction and bright colours.  

In 1917 Delaunay met Sergei Diaghilev who invited her to design costumes for the Ballet Russe revival of Cleopatra and in 1918 she opened her own clothes store in Madrid. Delaunay was a highly regarded and successful artist in her lifetime and was the only living female artist to be honoured with a retrospective at the Louvre in 1964.

Throughout her career Delaunay successfully navigated a variety of media from gouache and prints on paper to large-scale paintings and art tapestries.

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