Leonor Fini

She is magnificent, perturbing, mocking enigmatic, terrible and compassionate. She is Leonor Fini; painter of the surreal, illustrator of books, theater designer, writer….
Her art is the crack in the mirror, the edge of the equation, the dream of tremendous import half-grasped on awakening, whose meaning dissolves with daylight.”

Catherine Styles McLeod Architectural Digest, March 1986

 In honor of Women’s History Month I have been reading about some of the extraordinary women whose lives shaped history and artist Leonor Fini was definitely on of them…


Born in 1907 in Argentina to an Italian  mother and Argentenian father, she was not quite a year old when her parents divorced and her mother quickly whisked her away to Trieste.  Up until she was six or seven her mother disguised her as a boy to avoid her father’s kidnap attempts.

Fini, who had read Freud’s works before the age of 16, was tossed out of every school she attended for her inability to adhere to the rules.  She was self-educated, a voracious reader and a student of her surroundings.

She moved to Paris about 1931 and was quickly surrounded by the Surrealist artists of the day.  Known as “the only artist to paint women without apology,” her paintings feature strong pretty women – many of them bearing a striking resemblance to herself…


Leonor Fini

Leonor Fini

self portrait…

Leonor Fini

the sphinx played a major role in her work…

Leonor Fini

as did cats…

Leonor Fini


Fini married once but it lasted only a brief time..

Marriage never appealed to me, I’ve never lived with one person. Since I was 18, I’ve always preferred to live in a sort of community – A big house with my atelier and cats and friends, one with a man who was rather a lover and another who was rather a friend. And it has always worked.

She divorced after she met Stanislao Lepri, an Italian Count, and they lived together for the rest of her life…


Fini designed things such as the 1952 Chateau Mouton Rothschild label and the bottle, molded after Mae West’s torso, for Elsa Schiaparelli’s Shocking perfume…


Julian Levy, the art dealer who introduced the Surrealists in America, brought her work  to a 1936 show at his Madison Avenue gallery – she never considered herself a Surrealist!

I beg to differ…


an extraordinary life indeed…


“I didn’t go to dance or dine or make conversation. I went to dazzle and render people
speechless. If I could do that I was happy.”

she was surreal, self-invented, scandalous…

“I have always,” she said, “believed that human attributes are terribly limited. I have forever envied animals for their thick, hard claws, their shimmering, phosphorescent scales, their incomparably dense fur. . . .”



I loved learning about her!


friday dog

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  1. Kandy Sims says:

    She seems to be a character! Very colorful woman! Loved her art!! Thanks for the history lesson!!❤️

    • mnestorc@aol.com says:

      There is so much more about her and she was indeed the “colorful” character!