Art, Artists, On this day..., Painters

On this day… was born María Blanchard

María Blanchard was a Spanish painter known for developing a unique style of Cubism. She was born on this day in Santander, a city in the north of Spain.

She was born with several physical deformities, including the spine, what was attributed to a fall that her mother suffered during her pregnancy. She was born with kyphoscoliosis and bilateral hip articulation. Blanchard turned to painting to express her sadness and all the emotional pain caused by her stunted growth and by walking with a limp. Her father was very supportive, encouraging her to draw.

In 1903 she moved to Madrid, to study at the Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, where she learnt with Emilio Sala the precision and the use of colour which would feature in her early compositions. In 1908she won the prize for her painting Primeros pasos at the Fine Arts National Exhibition, this grant allowed her to continue her artistic education in Paris at the Academie Vitti, where she discovered the cubist painting.

Still Life Composition by María Blanchard – 1916/17 (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

In 1915 her art was displayed in an exhibition organized by Ramón Gómez de la Serna at the Museum of Modern Art in Madrid, by this time she was contacted to teach art in Madrid, but the experience was disappointed to her and she moved back to Paris where she would send the rest of her life.

In Paris she met other Cubist artists when she joined the group Section d’Or and started to develop her own style of Cubism. Her unique style evolved to become more figurative than traditional over the years. Her paintings became harsh with bright clashing colours and the use of melancholic themes, the result were very emotionally expressive artworks.

Seated Woman by María Blanchard – 1928
(Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

In 1927, after the death of Juan Gris, who was a close friend, she felt very affected and fell in a state of depression. As her health was deteriorating, she turned to religion and even considered the possibility to join a convent, but never did. Her health declined gradually over the following years and when she contracted tuberculosis it was impossible to her to keep painting. She died at age 51 in Paris.