She studied piano with composer John Field and art at the Geneva Academy.
The family moved to Geneva in 1832, where Maria was "the brilliant star of the household..striking in every sense". Prince Louis-Napoleon (later Napoleon III) was reportedly among those in love with her, as was poet Juliusz Słowacki, who wrote a poem about her. She was described as having "a touch of the Mediterranean about her": olive-toned skin and dark hair and eyes.
She was the recipient of Chopin"s Waltz Brilliant (op 18) in 1834 and the Farewell Waltz in 1835.
She also painted the composer, creating what Tad Szulc called "one of the best portraits of Chopin extant—after that by Delacroix—with the composer looking relaxed, pensive, and at peace". Maria and Chopin were engaged to be married in 1836 with the approval of Maria"s mother, but her father objected to the match because of Chopin"s poor health, and their relationship ended in 1837 (Chopin died in 1849).
The couple later divorced. Her husband died in 1881, leaving her a widow.
She spent the rest of her life in Kłóbka, Poland.
Wodzińska"s nephew Antoni—not to be confused with his father, Maria"s brother Antoni, who was a boarder in the Chopin home during Chopin"s childhood and lived in Paris when Chopin was there—wrote a book detailing Chopin"s relationship with her: Les trois romans de Frédéric Chopin, published in 1886. Frederick Niecks, Chopin"s first exhaustive biographer, said the book was "more of the nature of a novel than of a biography".