Marianne Werefkin (1860-1938)
Marianne Werefkin in her atelier in Ascona, while painting “Les masques du village”, 1925 – Private collection.
Werefkin Marianne was born on September 10th, 1860 in Tula, Russia, from a family of noble origins. Her innate artistic talent was immediately recognized and encouraged by her parents. In 1885, she moved to St. Petersburg to take lessons from the greatest realist Russian painter Ilya Repin. Under his guidance, she reached such perfection in realist painting, which earned her the nickname “Russian Rembrandt”.
In 1892, she met for the first time Alexej Jawlensky, the man who will shaped not only her lives, but also her artistic career. In 1896, following to her father’s death, she moved with Jawlensky to Munich, in Germany. Their apartment soon became a meeting place for painters, musicians, dancers, writers and intellectuals of all kinds: an artistic salon, where Werefkin is the perfect entertainer.
In Munich, they became closed to Kandinsky and his partner, Gabriele Münter. Jawlensky founded with them in 1909, the Neue Künstlervereinigung München (NKVM, New Artists Association of Monaco) that in 1911 will evolve into the Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider).
Expelled from Germany at the outbreak of World War I, she was forced to seek refuge in Switzerland. In 1918, she moved to Ascona: Abandoned by Jawlensky and in economic difficulties (she had lost Tsarist pension inherited from her father as a result of the October Revolution), she found solidarity and unexpected support from its inhabitants, which she reciprocated with an active commitment in the cultural life of the town.
She passed away in Ascona, in 1938, where her remains still lie. At her funeral, celebrated in Orthodox and Catholic ritual, was participated by the entire population of the village.