She was born in Santander on March 6th, 1881, in a wealthy family of the cultured bourgeoisie. Because of a fall suffered by her mother during pregnancy, Maria was born with kyphoscoliosis and bilateral hip disarticulation, resulting in dwarfism and limping. Her father stimulated her artistic interest, and at the age of 22 she travelled to Madrid to study with Emilio Sala and later on with Fernando Alvarez de Sotomayor.
In 1906 she first participated in the National Exhibition of Fine Arts with her picture "Gitana" ("Gypsy"). In those years she met the Mexican painter Diego Rivera and won third medal in the National Exhibition. After this success, she decided to continue her education in Paris, aided by the grants awarded by the city council of Santander. In Paris she met Russian painter Angelina Beloff, with whom she started a long-lasting friendship, together with Diego Rivera. Through her teacher Kees van Dongen, she also met Juan Gris and Jacques Lipchitz. With some of them she would share a studio in her mother's house in Madrid during World War I.
In 1915 she exhibited at Madrid's Salon of Modern Art. She got a post as a Drawing teacher and moved to Salamanca but, disappointed by the experience, she resigned and returned to Paris. After a period of hardship, she was lucky to meet Léonce Rosenberg and win the friendship of André Lhote. After the war, she exhibited at the Gallery L'Effort Moderne and Salon des Indépendants in Paris. In Belgium she came into contact with the most significant group of art dealers of her whole career: Delgouffre, Flausch and Grimar (Ceux de Demain).
In 1922 she met Isabelle Rivière, who would become her first biographer. She exhibited at the Centaure Gallery in Brussels and started a relationship with doctor Girardin, owner of the Parisian gallery La Licorne, who, upon her death, would donate many of her works to the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. She also presented her pieces at the Salon des Tuileries of Paris and in several Belgian cities.
After the death of Juan Gris in 1927, she fell into a deep depression and religious fervour. Her family met her in Paris, alleviating her loneliness but worsening her delicate economic situation. In 1930 she took part in the exhibition organized by Montparnasse magazine in many Brazilian cities. After suffering a progressive deterioration of her health, she died on April 5th, 1932.
In 2012, the Botin Foundation of Santander organizes the exhibition "Maria Blanchard, Cubist", which is to travel as a great retrospective exhibition to the Reina Sofia National Art Museum (from October 2012 to February 2013).
In 2004, Maria José Salazar published her catalogue raisonné, "Maria Blanchard, painting 1889-1932", co-edited by Telefonica and the Reina Sofia National Art Museum of Madrid.