Marie Konstantinova Bashkirtseff was born on November 24, 1858, into a family of lower nobility near Poltava, in an area that is now in the Ukraine. She was educated privately and had an early musical talent comprising of a superb operettic voice and the ability to play the mandolin, harp and piano. Marie decided to become an artist and began studying at the only school that would teach women, Académie Julian in Paris. Marie naturally made her way into the lives of the artists community in Paris. She enchanted her teachers Juilan and Tony, whom she was on a first named basis, and regularly had over for dinner. She socialized with Carlous-Duran (1837-1917), who sang songs at her social gatherings, and Mihály Munkácsy (1844 – 1900), whose wife she thought was ugly. She admired Diego Velázquez (1599-1660), read the works of Emile Zola (1840-1902) nightly, and loved Portrait of Madame X(1884) by John Singer Sargent (1856-1925).