Sonia DELAUNAY

1885-1979

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Who is Sonia DELAUNAY?

Sonia Delaunay, née Sara Illinichtna Stern, and wife of Robert Delaunay, is a multi-faceted French artist and designer of Ukrainian origin known for her bold use of colour and geometric patterns.

She was born on 14 November 1885 in Ukraine and died on 5 December 1979 in Paris. Her prints, and more particularly her drawings, are today sought after by the market and can be sold at high prices in auction rooms.

Quote, price and estimation of the artist Sonia DELAUNAY-TERK

Price of a print signed Delaunay at auction: 200 – 3 000 €

Estimate of a drawing or watercolour by the artist for auction: 1 500 – 60,000 €.

If you would like to have a drawing of the painter’s work appraised, our experts are at your disposal for a free appraisal.

Academic training and the influence of Fauvism

Born in Ukraine in a modest Jewish family, Sonia Delaunay was placed at a very young age in Saint Petersburg with her uncle Henri Terk, who adopted her and offered her a classical Russian education. From an early age, she was fascinated by European museums, which her adoptive father took her to visit. For two years she attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Karlsruhe before moving to Paris in 1905 where she perfected her artistic education by visiting galleries and museums. Her early paintings are influenced by the fauvism of Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin and are full of vivid colours.

Through her marriage to the German gallery owner Wilhelm Uhde in 1908, she obtained French nationality and entered the closed circle of the Parisian elite. However, their marriage failed and Sonia put an end to it after starting an affair with Robert Delaunay, whom she married in 1910, a few months before the birth of their son Charles.

The Delaunay couple and Orphism

Together, the two artists created a pictorial movement in 1911 characterised by the use of bright colours and geometric forms, a fusion of cubism and futurism. Guillaume Apollinaire nicknamed this movement which he associated with a pure form of poetry “Orphism” in reference to one of his poems.

Sonia’s creation of a patchwork for her son’s bed was the starting point for this new style. The couple worked together on the theory of simultaneous colour contrast inaugurated by Georges Seurat twenty years earlier. They adopted “simultaneism”, a legacy of the Neo-Impressionists, and juxtaposed touches of pure colour to accentuate the luminosity of the work and achieve an optical mixture. Le Bal Bullier (1912) is the first painting by Sonia Delaunay based on this principle.

In 1913, the artist collaborated with the poet Blaise Cendrars. She created an exceptional layout, a two-metre long book in accordion, for the poem The Prose of the Transsiberian Railway and Little Jehanne of France. The work was a great success.

A wide variety of media for experimenting with abstraction

Sonia Delaunay created the Ateliers Simultanés Delaunay in the same year and extended these principles to applied arts and fashion. While her husband conceptualises abstraction as a universal language, Sonia experiments with it on the most varied media. She thus created “robes-poèmes”, with furniture, bags and wallpaper. For Sonia Delaunay, the art of her time must, in order to renew itself, abolish the hierarchy between minor and major arts and there is therefore no difference between her painting and her so-called decorative work.

During the war, the couple fled to Portugal and Sonia began to develop her activities in the field of theatre and fashion. She opened a sewing workshop in Paris on her return in the 1920s and exhibited in 1925 at the International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts. Always associated with her husband Robert, she often exhibited alongside him.

In 1941, the death of Robert Delaunay marked the beginning of a period of questioning for the artist. Very quickly, she pursued and appropriated the path she had mapped out with her husband. She continued to explore this new aesthetic throughout her career. In 1946, Sonia Delaunay created the Salon des Réalités Nouvelles (Salon of New Realities) and promised abstraction.

Sonia Delaunay’s painting underwent a profound post-war renewal which culminated in the 1960s in an abstract art full of poeticism. At that time, she produced monumental works of art, including paintings, mosaics, carpets and tapestries.

In 1964 Sonia Delaunay became the first living female artist to be granted a retrospective at the Louvre and in 1975 she was awarded the distinction of Officer of the Legion of Honour. She died in Paris in 1979 at the age of 94, after having donated her entire production to the Centre Pompidou.

She left an abundant and protean body of work behind that included printed fabrics, books, haute couture dresses and paintings, and more. The textile motifs invented by Delauney are today a source of inspiration for a whole generation of young painters. The Marché au Minho is his most expensive work sold at auction, with a selling price of 3,873,772 euros.

Recognising Sonia Delaunay’s signature

Like many artists, Sonia Delaunay did not sign all of his works. However, you will find below an example of the signatures to give you an idea. Variations of these signatures do exist, do not hesitate to contact one of our experts to formally authenticate a signature.

expertise signature sonia delaunay

Appraising and selling a piece by Sonia Delaunay

If you own a piece by Sonia Delaunay or any other object, ask for a free estimate via our online form.

You will then be contacted by a member of our team of experts and auctioneers to give you an independent view of the market price of your piece. In the context of a possible sale, our specialists will also advise you on the different options available to sell your work at the best price.

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