Many of the female artists we have shared on Paris History Avec a Hemingway on La Vie Creative Podcast have been hidden behind their male contemporaries. Sonia Delaunay is just as well known as her husband Robert, but there was a whole side to her art that I had never noticed before.
Sonia Stern born November 14, 1885 in the Ukraine. Her parents were working class and at 5 years old her mother gave her up for adoption to her wealthy uncle Henri Terk. Henri showed the young Sonia a life of art and culture and exposed her to an education she would not have received from her working class parents. At 18 she was fluent in four languages and was off to the Academy of Fine arts in Karlsruhe, Germany in 1904.
The next year she was in Paris at the Academie de la Palette. The same year Wilhelm Uhde arrived in Paris from Germany and opened a gallery on Rue Notre Dame des Champs and purchased his first Picasso and built a collection and circle of friends that would include Sonia. In 1908 she and Wilhelm married, a marriage of convenience between friends. Sonia wanted to avoid returning to Russia and Wilhelm needed to conceal his homosexuality. That same year she met French artist Robert Delaunay.
On November 15, 1910 Robert and Sonia married but she and Wilhelm remained close for the rest of their lives. Sonia had already begun painting and exhibiting at the Salon and the couple now influenced and inspired each other as a force few had seen in Paris. Sonia was constantly looking for other ways to share her art. She moved from the canvas to every other form of art she could find.
Her focus would turn to home furnishings, fabric, clothing and even cars. During WWI while in Spain she opened Casa Sonia, selling her fabrics and home goods and opened 4 locations.
Inside the Musée du Louvre while most of the greats were inspired by the masters, she was drawn to the jewelry of Egypt and Messopotamia. In 1964 she was given the first living female artist exhibition inside the walls of the museum that inspired her. Even Picasso didn’t exhibit in the Louvre until 1971.
Hear her entire story today at La Vie Creative Podcast - Paris History Avec a Hemingway.
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