Tamara de Lempicka born into a wealthy and prominent family, her father was a Polish lawyer, her mother, the former Malvina Decler, a Polish socialite.
In 1912, her parents divorced and Maria went to live with her wealthy Aunt Stefa in St. Petersberg, Russia.
In1916 she married Tadeusz Lempicki in St. Petersburg; a well-known ladies man, gadabout, and lawyer by title, who was tempted by the significant dowry.
In 1917, during the Russian Revolution, Tadeusz was arrested in the dead of night by the Bolsheviks. Maria searched the prisons for him and after several weeks, with the help of the Swedish consul, she secured his release. They traveled to Copenhagen, Denmark then London, England and finally to Paris, France to where Maria's family had also escaped, along with numerous upper-class Russian refugees.
For her first major show, in Milan, Italy in 1925, under the sponsorship of Count Emmanuele Castelbarco, de Lempicka painted 28 new works in six months. She was soon the most fashionable portrait painter of her generation among the haute bourgeoisie and aristocracy, painting duchesses and grand dukes and socialites.
In 1929, she painted her iconic work Auto-Portrait (Tamara in the Green Bugatti) for the cover of the German fashion magazine Die Dame.
De Lempicka won her first major award in 1927, first prize at the Exposition Internationale de Beaux Arts in Bordeaux, France for her portrait of Kizette on the Balcony.
She travelled to the United States for the first time in 1929
Museums began to collect her works. In 1933 she traveled to Chicago where she worked with Georgia O'Keeffe, Santiago Martinez Delgado and Willem de Kooning
Her social position was cemented when she married her lover, Baron Kuffner, in 1933
In the summer of 1939, Tamara and the Baron started an "extended vacation" in the United States. They resided in Hollywood and NY.
After Baron Kuffner's death from a heart attack in 1962, she sold most of her possessions and made three around-the-world trips by ship. Finally De Lempicka moved to Houston, Texas to be with Kizette and her family. (Kizette had married a man named Harold Foxhall, who was then chief geologist for the Dow Chemical Company; they had two daughters
In 1978 Tamara moved to Cuernavaca, Mexico, to live among an aging international set and some of the younger aristocrats and artists. After Kizette's husband died of cancer, she attended her mother for three months until Tamara died in her sleep on March 19, 1980. Her ashes were scattered over the volcano Popocatepetl .Her death was reported in Time Magazine.