Jean Metzinger was born in Nantes, France, on June 24, 1883. At the age of twenty he moved to Paris to pursue a career as a painter. One of his early friends in Paris was Robert Delaunay. In around 1908 he met writer Max Jacob, who introduced him to Guillaume Apollinaire and his circle, which included Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso. Picasso was to have a significant influence on Metzinger from this time to about 1923. In 1910 Metzinger exhibited for the first time at the Salon des Indépendants. In 1910 and 1911 he published several articles on contemporary painting and afterward periodically contributed to literature on Modern art. Metzinger was the first to note in print that Picasso and Braque had dismissed traditional perspective and merged multiple views of an object in a single image; his article on this subject appeared in Pan in 1910.

In 1911, with Robert Delaunay, Albert Gleizes, and Fernand Léger, Metzinger participated in the controversial Salle 41 at the Salon des Indépendants, the first formal group exhibition of Cubist painters. His work was represented at the Salon d’Automne in Paris that same year. Metzinger collaborated with Gleizes in 1912 on Du cubisme, in which a theoretical foundation for Cubism was proposed. During that year he was a founder of the Section d’Or and exhibited at the Galerie de la Boétie in Paris with other members of the group, including Alexander Archipenko, Roger de La Fresnaye, Gleizes, Juan Gris, Léger, and Louis Marcoussis.

In 1913 Metzinger’s work was again shown at the Salon d’Automne, and he continued to exhibit in the principal salons of Paris thereafter. This same year he took part in an exhibition at Galerie Der Sturm in Berlin and shared a show at the Galerie Berthe Weill in Paris with Gleizes and Léger. In 1916 Metzinger showed with Jean Crotti, Marcel Duchamp, and Gleizes at the Montross Gallery in New York. After military service during World War I Metzinger returned to Paris in 1919 and lived there for the remainder of his life. Among his solo exhibitions were those at the Leicester Galleries in London in 1930, the Hanover Gallery in London in 1932, and the Arts Club of Chicago in 1953. Metzinger died in Paris on November 3, 1956.