The painter known as ‘Marevna’ (after a Russian fairy sea princess) was born Maria Bronislawowna Worobjewa-Stebelskaja to a Polish nobleman father and a Russian mother in Cheboksary, Kazan province, Russia in 1892. She studied at Moscow's Stroganov Art Academy in 1910, then settled in Paris in 1912 amid the artistic community of La Ruche. In 1915 she met the Mexican muralist Diego Rivera, with whom she had a daughter, Marika, and under his influence, embraced Cubism, becoming known as the first female Cubist painter. She also created fabric patterns inspired by Georgian designs for leading French fashion designer Paul Poiret.
During the war, she hid in the South of France before joining her daughter in England in 1949, initially at Athelhampton House, a Tudor manor in Dorset, which was purchased in that year by Marika's husband, the publisher Rodney Phillips. Marevna worked in a wing of the house (now used for temporary exhibitions). During this period, she held an exhibition at the Lefèvre Gallery in London (1952). Works executed at Athelhampton include a drawing of Marika with her son, David; a portrait of the photographer Angus McBean, who often visited the house, dressed in Tudor costume (his photographs of Marika are also housed at Athelhampton), and a landscape of the famous pyramid topiaries in the Great Court garden. In 1957, following Marika's separation from Phillips, Marevna moved with her daughter and two grandsons to Ealing, London, where she remained for the rest of her life. In the 1960s she revisited the French mainland to paint portraits of her old friends ('Homage to Friends from Montparnasse', 1962), reworking various paintings she had made around 1920. Marevna died in London, England in 1984. A selling exhibition of her work was held at the Court Gallery in Somerset in 2019. Marevna's work is held in UK collections including Athelhampton House, the Ben Uri Collection and Tate Liverpool, as well as the Guggenheim Museum, New York, and the Petit Palace, Geneva.