Polish artist Maria Mela Muter 1876-1967
The daughter of a Polish merchant, Maria Melania Muter left Poland at age 25 to settle in Paris. Even though she left her homeland, her works were frequently exhibited there & she always stressed that she considered herself Polish.
In 1899, she entered the School of Drawing and Painting for Women in Warsaw, and married Micha Mutermilch (1874–1947), a writer, critic & socialist activist from a Polish Jewish family. Her only child, Andrzej, was born in the following year. Shortly afterwards, the family left for Paris. In France, she was an active member of the Polish community, she participated in the events of the Polish Artists Society, the T.A.P, and she was in constant contact with her artists & writers compatriots such as Stefan Zeromski, Léopold Gottlieb and Zborowski. She also was in contact with Romain Rolland, Diego Rivera, Arthur Honegger, Albert Gleize, & Auguste Perret who drew the plan of her house.
In autumn 1901, she started her studies at Académie de la Grande Chaumière, continuing them at the Académie Colarossi. She soon gave up formal academic studies, later claiming that she was largely self-taught & that she was influenced more by the painting of the École de Paris than by her college studies. Even though she is attached to Poland, Mela Muter soon becomes a personality of Montparnasse and, in 1902 only, she takes part in the Beaux-Arts exhibition. Every year, she exhibits her works on the Polish Exhibitions (Warsaw, Lvov, Cracow). The art dealer and collector Ambroise Vollard takes an interest in her and particularly likes the portrait of him that she paints in 1916.
She began to exhibit her paintings in 1902, her 1st individual exhibition taking place in Warsaw at the Society for Promotion of Fine Arts. This was only the 2nd by a woman artist in the history of the institution. She exhibited in Warsaw again in 1907. In Paris, she showed her works regularly at exhibitions organized by Societé Nationale des Beaux Arts, Salon des Indépendants, Salon d’Automne, & Salon des Tuileries. In Poland, she also exhibited at Society for the Friends of Fine Arts shows in Kraków and Lvov. Before WWI, She also exhibited in Barcelona in 1911, and in Gerona in 1914.
Before WWI, she travelled frequently to Spain, fascinated by Spanish landscapes & Spanish painting. She spent the war years mainly in France. In 1917, she met an intellectual & socialist activist, Raymond Lefebvre (1891–1920), who was severely ill at the time. Their relationship caused the dissolution of her marriage.