Laurencin was born in Paris, the illegitimate daughter of Pauline Laurencin and Alfred Toulet. She did not know her father’s identity until she was 22, eight years after his death.
Laurencin studied porcelain painting at the Sèvres factory. She later entered the Académie Humbert, where she met Georges Braque and Georges Lepape.
In 1907 she exhibited at Clovis Sagot’s gallery in Montmartre. There, Pablo Picasso introduced her to Guillaume Apollinaire, with whom she would be romantically involved until 1913. Picasso and Apollinaire introduced Laurencin to the Bateau Lavoir, where she met Fernande Olivier, Max Jacob, André Salmon, Maurice Raynal, Maurice Cremnitz, Gertrude Stein, and André Derain, among others.
In 1908 Group of Artists is purchased by Gertrude Stein, Laurencin’s first sale. The painting is a group portrait of Laurencin, Apollinaire, Picasso and his mistress, Fernande Olivier. In 1913 Laurencin’s relationship with Apollinaire ended, signalling the end of her Cubist-inspired period.
During the First World War, Laurencin left France for exile in Spain with her German-born husband, Baron Otto von Waëtjen, since through her marriage she had automatically lost her French citizenship. The couple subsequently lived together briefly in Düsseldorf. After they divorced in 1920, she returned to Paris, where she achieved financial success as an artist until the economic depression of the 1930s. During the 1930s she worked as an art instructor at a private school. She lived in Paris until her death.