Born in Buenos Aires in 1907 of an Italian mother and Argentinian father whom she never knew, Leonor Fini was surrounded throughout her youth in Trieste by a highly cultivated, cosmopolitan milieu.Possessed of a fiercely independent temperament, Leonor left her family first in 1927 to spend a year in Milan and then in 1931 to establish her career as a painter in Paris. Never having affiliations with the Surrealist group, she nevertheless became friends with Paul Eluard, Max Ernst, Georges Bataille, Henri Cartier-Bresson, AndrÚ Pieyre de Mandiargues and Salvador Dali. Her artistic formation was largely autodidactic and her nature uncompromisingly independent, which may account in part for the difficulty in placing her work in a school or movement. "I paint pictures which do not exist and which I would like to see". This declaration from Le Livre de Leonor Fini demonstrates her desire to seek inspiration above all from the deeply personal affinities of her inner "musÚe imaginaire". At the beginning of her career she painted the portraits of such personalities as Jean Genet, Anna Magnani, Jacques Audiberti, Alida Valli, Suzanne Flon. With a decided inclination for the theatrical she was often photographed at costume balls and she complemented her art with many designs of sets and costumes for opera, ballet, theater and films. Whether in Paris, or Corsica and the Tourraine region where she spent the summer months, she painted continuously, but because of the great technical demands of her work, she rarely produced more than ten paintings a year. Drawing was an important part of her life and her extraordinary draughtsmanship is marked by rapid, vibrant, sharply incisive strokes of a fine pen. Leonor was a born story-teller, both in conversation and in the many tales, memoir-fragments, prose-poems and three "novels" that she wrote beginning in the early seventies.Numerous poet and writer friends devoted studies, poems, monographs to her work. The best-known of these are Paul Eluard, Jean Cocteau, Giorgio de Chirico, Alberto Moravia and Max Ernst. There exist nine documentary films on Leonor Fini and her painting, the best known being "La LÚgende cruelle" by Gabriel Pommerand and Arcady (1951) and "Leonor Fini" by Chris Vermorcken(1978).