Born on November 5th, 1953 in São Paulo, the capital city of the state of São Paulo in Brazil, Menna Barreto began drawing in 1960. From that time through 1962 she attended a Junior Art school. 

At the age of 16 she became a student at the painting school of Waldemar da Costa (a well known artist who has received a very important prize at the São Paulo Biennial) where she studied for one year. 

From 1974 to 1980 she taught English and at the same time she was a participant in the art competitions in various cities. As a result of her participation in these contests she received many prizes. 

In 1980 she began studying at the studio of Luiz Portinari (Cândido Portinari’s brother), in the Cândido Portinari Art Center in São Paulo. During her time there she learned about artistic life and artistic trends, and heard many stories about the great painters, writers and poets who had lived at the time of Portinari. Luiz Portinari introduced her to the work of Max Ernst, De Chirico, Magritte and Paul Delvaux. After this time with Portinari her work took a surrealistic direction. This was a conclusive phase in her career as she began to develop her inmost creative side, and learned how to solve technical problems on her own. 

Three years later, when the course was over, Sônia installed her studio in her home and began her first works as a professional artist. In 1989 she made her first solo exhibit in São Paulo which was a success with both the public and art critics. In 1991, the artist started her serigraph production. Those serigraphs were introduced in 1995 in the biggest travelling solo exhibit ever to be realized in the country, covering 12 cities.

The artist Sônia Menna Barreto, has been focusing her artistic production on the expression nearest to homo ludens, the lucid man. Her creative spirit has searched for places and characters who inhabit the imagination of people of all ages.
Her technique has its origins in the Flemish painters of the fifteenth century, mixing hyper-realism with details of the French technique of Trompe L’oeil. Her works are present in private collections in the world.

For the first time ever, the artistic work of a Brazilian was made a part of the British Royal Collection in October, 2002. This is one of the most important art collections in the world. The painting “Leonard Cheshire” by Sônia Menna Barreto was presented at a ceremony at Buckingham Palace.