She was born Maria Górska on 16 May 1898 in Warsaw, then part of the Russian Empire.
When she was ten, her mother commissioned a pastel portrait of her by a prominent local artist.
She detested posing and was dissatisfied with the finished work.
She took the pastels, had her younger sister pose, and made her first portrait.
How many artists and authors started like that,
"I could do better than that!"
In 1915, she met and fell in love with a prominent Polish lawyer, Tadeusz Łempicki
Her family offered him a large dowry, and they were married in 1916 in the chapel of the Knights of Malta in St. Petersburg.
The Russian Revolution in 1917 shattered their lives.
In December 1917, Tadeusz Łempicki was arrested in the middle of the night by the secret police.
Tamara searched the prisons for him, and with the help of the Swedish consul, to whom she offered her "favors," she secured his release.
The couple struggled their way to Paris where Tamara's family had also found refuge.
Tadeusz proved unwilling or unable to find suitable work.
To support their daughters, Tamara turned to selling her paintings.
In 1928 she was divorced from Tadeusz Łempicki.
That same year, she met Raoul Kuffner, a baron of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire and an art collector.
He commissioned her to paint his mistress, the Spanish dancer Nana de Herrera.
Lempicka finished the portrait (which was not very flattering to de Herrera)
and took the place of de Herrera as the mistress of the baron.
In 1929, Lempicka painted one of her best-known works, Autoportrait --
(Tamara in a green Bugatti)
The wife of Baron Kuffner died in 1933. De Lempicka married him on 3 February 1934 in Zurich.
She was alarmed by the rise of the Nazis and persuaded her husband to sell most of his properties in Hungary and to move his fortune and his belongings to Switzerland.
Her Art Deco style fell out of fashion.
Art Deco was "rediscovered" in the late 1960's.
Her "rediscovery" amused Tamara.
She needed no one's approval to feel whole.
The best description of Lempicka's work was her own:
"I was the first woman to make clear paintings
and that was the origin of my success.
Among a hundred canvases,
mine were always recognizable"