Mariette Lydis Biography

Mariette Lydis




Painter, printmaker, writer and illustrator Mariette Lydis was born Mariette Ronsperger, the third child of Jewish merchants, in Vienna-Baden, Austria on August 24, 1887. Lydis was primarily self-taught and didn't show her work until she was in her 30s, focusing on writing throughout her teens and early 20s. At age 20 she and her sister Edith traveled to Arosa, Switzerland where Mariette began reading her poetry, of which several pieces were later set to music by Franz Schreker and Eric Korngold.

Mariette married Jean Lydis in 1920 with whom moved to Athens, Greece, in 1922. Lydis traveled to Florence in 1925 and began an affair with poet and novelist Massimo Bontempalli. After divorcing Jean Lydis, Lydis and Bontempalli moved to Paris, where Lydis was introduced to visual artists, musicians, and playwrights and began to expand her pursuit of the arts. She quickly gained a reputation as a painter and lithographer and was commissioned to illustrate various books and poetry anthologies, and she participated in her first exhibition at the Galerie Bernheim. She became a member of the Salon du Autonne and was a fixture in the Avant-Garde movement of Paris. She befriended Amelia Earheart, Paul Valery, and Tsuguharu Foujita, whose work greatly influenced her own throughout the rest of her career. In 1928, she married Comte Giuseppi Govone, an art publisher (legalized in 1934), to whom she would remain married until his death in 1948. Throughout this time, Lydis continued to explore bisexual relationships, which informed her personal artistic output. 

With the rise of Nazi power in Europe, Lydis, who was Jewish, soon found that she could no longer exhibit in any of the major art hubs she had been a part of. Together with her partner Erika Marx they moved briefly to England, soon fleeing as refugees on a ship bound for Buenos Aires, where they arrived in 1940. This proved to be prophetic for Lydis as she would ultimately spend the majority of her life there, opening a workshop for printmaking and continuing to exhibit in Argentina and the U.S. She briefly returned to Paris in 1948 with the intent of moving there permanently, but returned once more to Buenos Aires, where she died in 1970. Lydis' work is in permanent and private collections, museums, and galleries throughout Europe and the Americas.