Born in Bordeaux, Marquet went to Paris at the early age of fifteen to begin his studies under Gustave Moureau (1826-1898), alongside Georges Rouault (1871-1958) at the École des Beaux-Arts.
He became life-long friends with Henri Matisse during his studies and they worked together on the decoration of the Grand Palais at the Paris World Exhibition on 1900. Marquet used decorative, bright colours for his early paintings of this period, influenced strongly by the Fauves; exhibiting with other Fauves such as André Derain (1880-1954) and Maurice de Vlaminck (187-1958). Although his palette was never as bright as his cohorts, his work benefitted from exposure to the abstract organisation of colours he witnessed in their paintings.
In 1906 Marquet travelled extensively within France, Germany, Holland, North Africa, Russia and Scandinavia. He returned to Paris in 1945, only two years before he died, after living in Algiers for five years. He developed his own style, influenced strongly by his travels. Harbour scenes became a significant subject in his work, emphasising his interest in light reflections on the water surface.
The artist died on June 14, 1947 in La Frette-sur-Seine, France. Today, his works are held in the collections of the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, the Tate Gallery in London, and The Museum of Modern Art, among others.