Popova was born in Ivanovskoe, near Moscow, to the wealthy family of Sergei Maximovich Popov, a very successful textile merchant and vigorous patron of the arts, and Lyubov Vasilievna Zubova, who came from a highly cultured family. Lyubov Sergeyevna had two brothers and a sister: Sergei was the eldest, then Lyubov, Pavel and Olga. Pavel became a philosopher and the guardian of his sister’s artistic legacy. She grew up with a strong interest in art, especially Italian Renaissance painting. At eleven years old she began formal art lessons at home; she was first enrolled in Yaltinskaia’s Women’s Gymnasium, then in Arseneva’s Gymnasium in Moscow. By the age of 18 she was studying with Stanislav Zhukovsky, and in 1908 entered the private studios of Konstantin Yuon and Ivan Dudin. In 1912 to 1913, she began attending the studios of the Cubist painters Henri Le Fauconnier and Jean Metzinger.