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Marie Laurencin learnt porcelain painting, then took drawing classes at the Paris municipal art school and the Académie Humbert. In 1907, she had her first solo show and met Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) and the group of artists from the Bateau-Lavoir in Montmartre, then the poet and art critic Guillaume Apollinaire (1880-1918). She lived with Apollinaire until 1912. They had a passionate affair, inspiring each other both intellectually and artistically. Having favoured Fauvism at one time, Marie Laurencin simplified her forms through the influence of the Cubist painters. From 1910, her palette consisted mainly of grey, pink and pastel tones.
The war took away her newly found dealers who were German. In the summer of 1914 she herself had married a German baron, and was unable to return to France definitively until 1921. Her palette then became darker.
Marie Laurencin probably met the young Paul Guillaume (1891-1934) through Apollinaire around 1912. For a period in the 1920s he became her art dealer. Having returned to Paris at that time, she began to paint willowy, ethereal female figures, a motif to which she subsequently returned with a palette of soft pastel colours, evoking an enchanted world. She painted portraits of Parisian celebrities, and produced theatre sets, in particular for the Ballets Russes. She developed a taste for metamorphosis, thus bringing together two of her favourite themes: young women and animals.