Monday Lectures

18 May 2021

The Story of Gertrude, Henri and Pablo

Pablo Picasso, Portrait of Gertrude Stein, 1906, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Gertrude Stein settled in Paris with her brother Leo in 1903. Their joint art collection began the next year when their brother Michael Stein announced that their trust account had accumulated a balance of 8,000 francs. They spent this sum at the Ambroise Vollard gallery on two paintings by Gauguin, a single Cézanne and two Renoirs. Shortly after the opening of the 1905 Salon d’Automne at the Grand Palais, the Steins acquired Matisse's Woman with a Hat and Picasso's Young Girl with Basket of Flowers.

 

The art critic of the New York Sun, Henry McBride, commented on the Steins’ art collection as it grew in their soon-to-be famous apartment and studio at 27 Rue de Fleurus on the Left Bank: "In proportion to its size and quality ... it is just about the most potent of any in history." According to McBride, Gertrude "collected geniuses rather than masterpieces. She recognized them a long way off."

 

In our lecture we will concentrate on Gertrude’s very personal relationship with the two greatest “geniuses” of her collection, Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso - whom she indeed introduced to each other – in the key period of her art collecting, 1904-1914. We will also examine the relationship between Gertrude and her girlfriend Alice Toklas with Picasso’s first permanent mistress, Fernande Olivier.

Henri Matisse,Le Bonheur de vivre 1905-06, Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia Pablo Picasso - Acrobat's Family with Monkey 1905, Göteborgs Konstmuseum