Born in Bordeaux in 1875, by the age of 16 Marquet was studying in Paris. He attended the École des Arts Decoratifs, then the École des Beaux-Arts, where he was a pupil of the Symbolist painter Gustave Moreau.
During this time Marquet also became roommates and subsequently lifelong friends with Henri Matisse, who spearheaded Fauvism in 1905. That year, Marquet, Matisse, André Derain, Maurice de Vlaminck and Kees van Dongen exhibited in the Salon d’Automne, showing paintings that abandoned perspective and emphasised the importance of colour over line — leading one critic to describe them as ‘Fauves’ (wild beasts).
Whilst Fauvism fell out of favour to Cubism just a few years later, Marquet remained a committed colourist. In his later years he travelled extensively through France, Italy, Germany and Sweden, around the Mediterranean coast and across North Africa. His focus became landscapes, which eventually became more naturalistic in style, and his palette evolved towards the greys and blues more usually associated with the Impressionists.
Marquet died in La Frette-sur-Seine in northern France in 1947. His obituary in The New York Times noted how he was one of just three foreign artists to serve on the jury of the 30th International Exhibition of Paintings at the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh in 1931, and that at the time of his death his artwork was held in the permanent collection of Paris’s Musée du Luxembourg.
Today, Marquet’s works are found in the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Tate in London, the Musée d’Orsay in Paris and the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg.