Oil on canvas
26 x 29 inches (91.4 x 73 cm)
Framed: 45 ½ x 38 inches (115.5 x 96.5 cm)
Signed lower right: Marevna
Drout, Paris, circa 2000
Private collection, US
Marevna was the daughter of Jewish actress Rosanovitch and Alexandre Vorobieff. When she was two years old, she was adopted by the Polish Catholic aristocrat Bronislav Stebelski. In 1907, she took classes at the Tiflis school in Georgia and in 1910 she attended the School of Decorative Arts in Moscow. Soon after, she traveled in Europe and met the writer Maxim Gorky, who encouraged her to paint. It was in fact Gorky who named her Marevna after a Russian fairy sea princess – her prior name derived from variations of Marie Rozanowicz-Vorobieff
The artist moved to Paris in 1912 and attended the Zuloaga Academy, the Colarossi Academy in 1913 and the Russian Academy. She got to know and became friends with some of the greatest artists and writers of the early twentieth century then also resident in Montparnasse; including Braque, Chagall, Cocteau, Gorki, Kisling, Léger, Matisse, Modigliani, Picasso, and Soutine.
In 1915, she met Mexican painter Diego Rivera, with whom she also had a daughter 4 years later. Marevna had been influenced by Rivera and the School of Paris artists in her circle; she evolved into and became recognized as the first female Cubist painter. She was known to combine elements of Cubism with those of Pointillism, self-described as Dimensionalism. Following several solo exhibitions, art dealer Léonce Rosenberg bought some of her paintings.
Marika Rivera, Marevna’s daughter with Diego Rivera, became an actress and playwriter. Marevna left Paris behind and lived with her daughter and two grandsons in Ealing, England, working there for several decades and the remainder of her life. She struggled financially during those years but had a resurgence of acknowledgement after her death.