This Week in History


Sonia Delaunay, prolific artist, dies in Paris at 94

December 5, 1979
Sonia Delaunay - Market at Minho
Full image
Market at Minho by Sonia Delaunay - 1915

Sonia Delaunay (1885 – 1979) was in on the birth of several art movements—Dadaism, Surrealism, Cubism, Fauvism, Futurism.  She knew Picasso, Braque, Tzara, Diaghilev, and married the painter Robert Delaunay.  She was prolific in her interests—collage, textiles, painting, printmaking, theatrical costume, and interior design.  Above all was her devotion to color everywhere, in bright contrasting squares, in streetlights, on bathing beauties, even in her decoration of a Citroen car. 

She described her work as “simultaneous contrasts,” though the poet Guillaume Apollinaire described it artfully as Orphism, a purely lyrical abstraction of bright colors that charmed viewers the same way Orpheus charmed even stones with his music. 

In 1964, Delaunay became the first living female artist to have a retrospective exhibition at the Louvre.  She received the Légion d’honneur and created the poster for the International Women’s Year of UNESCO in 1975.

Before she died in 1979, she said, “I don’t regret not having given myself more attention.  I really did not have the time.”

See also: articles on Sonia Delaunay and Modern France in Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia.

Sources: “The Colorful Life of Sonia Delaunay,” Phyllis Tuchman,



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