Hailed by some as the first female Cubist artist, Maria Bronislavovna Marevna was born Maria Vorobieff-Stebelska, the daughter of a Polish nobleman and a Russian dancer. She studied at the Stroganov Art Academy in Moscow but left after a year to travel in Italy; it was on the island of Capri that she first met Maksim Gorky who nicknamed her 'Marevna' (a character from a Russian folk story, literally meaning 'of the sea') providing the artist with her pseudonym. In 1912 she moved to Paris to continue her studies. Here, largely through introductions on the part of the Russian author Ilya Ehrenbourg, she became acquainted with Georges Braque, Marc Chagall, Henri Matisse, Fernand Léger, Amedeo Modigliani and Pablo Picasso, all of whom provided the subject for portraits painted during Marevna's late creative period.
In this comparatively early work Marevna's bold structured approach to composition, so apparent in later paintings such as Roses blanches, 1963 and Chasidic dancing, 1970, is already evident. The influence of Mexican painter Diego Rivera, who in 1917 was at the pinnacle of his cubist period, may also be detected (see for example Naturazela Muerta Con Tulipanes, 1916, Naturaleza muerta, 1916); the pair were romantically if rather unhappily involved at this time.