Russian painter, born at Tula, near Moscow. She studied under Repin in St Petersburg and in 1891 met her fellow-student Jawlensky, who became her companion for the next 30 years. They shared a dislike of the historical realism practised by Repin and in 1896 moved to Munich in search of a more sympathetic environment. They were founder members of the Neue Künstlervereinigung in 1909 and in 1914 they settled at Ascona in Switzerland. Werefkin finally parted from Jawlensky in 1921 when he moved to Wiesbaden; she remained at Ascona for the rest of her life. A museum of her work opened there in 1967.
Werefkin's early painting was influenced by Symbolism, but in Germany she developed an Expressionist style characterized by bright, flat colours and often a rather mystical mood. George Heard Hamilton writes that her ‘enthusiasm for French Symbolist poetry and painting, her belief in the necessity for a new art more immediately expressive of individual personality, and her encouragement of her companions were important contributions to the development of the new ideas in Munich, more important than her own paintings and drawings, which she herself considered secondary to the work of her friends’.