Sonia Delaunay was born in 1885 in Gradizhsk, Russia (now Ukraine) and was adopted by her maternal uncle at the age of five, taking his name (Terk). She grew up in St. Petersburg exposed to music and art, and learned several foreign languages. She moved to Germany to study drawing in 1903. In 1905, she travelled to Paris, studying at the Académie de la Palette, and discovering the work of Cézanne, Van Gogh, Pierre Bonnard, and Edouard Vuillard, as well as Matisse and Derain. In 1908 she married the German collector and art dealer, Wilhelm Uhde (1874–1947), whose Montparnasse Galerie Notre-Dame des Champs showed her first solo exhibition. Through Uhde, Sonia encountered many painters, including Picasso, Georges Braque, Maurice de Vlaminck, and Robert Delaunay (1885–1941). In 1910, Sonia divorced Uhde by mutual agreement and married Delaunay with whom she had a son in 1911. Together Sonia and Robert Delaunay pursued the use of abstract colour in painting and textile design. One of her first large-scale works was the painting of the Bal Bullier (1912–1913), a popular Parisian dance-hall. The Delaunays were ardent promoters of abstract art, and associated with Orphism or Orphic Cubism, which focused on pure abstraction and bright colours. They became members of the Abstraction-Création group in 1931 and organized the first Salon des Réalités Nouvelles in 1939. In 1953 the Galerie Bing mounted a solo show, and her work was also included in exhibitions in Paris and Rome. She was also an exhibitor with the Women's International Art Club. In 1964 (following her donation of 117 works by herself and her husband), Delaunay became the first living female artist to have a retrospective at the Louvre.
Sonia Delaunay died in Paris, France in 1979 and her work is held in UK collections including the Ben Uri Collection, the Higgins Bedford, and Tate, and represented extensively in international museum collections.