Meet Ms Gertrude Stein

Gertrude Stein, 1874-1946

American expatriate writer Gertrude Stein was a high priestess of early-twentieth-century modernism for the many who visited her fabled Paris apartment. She collected and promoted the art of the avant-garde, including that of Picasso and Matisse, and her own abstract, repetitive prose inspired the experiments of playwrights, composers, poets, and painters. ”There was an eternal quality about her,” sculptor Jo Davidson wrote. ”She somehow symbolized wisdom.” He chose to depict her here as ”a sort of modern Buddha.” Delighted by the sculpture, Stein composed one of her famous prose portraits of Davidson, later published in Vanity Fair alongside a photograph of his work.

Jo Davidson (1883-1952)
Terracotta, 1922-23

PS: A bronze version is included in the vast Met Collection, in NYC.

PS1: Another bronze version can be seen in Bryant Park, NYC.

PS2: A terracotta head portrait of Gertrude Stein, produced at the same time Davidson was completing the full-figure cast bronze edition, is at the Columbus Museum, in GA

PS3: Another bronze version apparently belongs to the Whitney, in NYC, but is not on view.

PS4: A photo of Gertrude Stein posing for Jo Davidson, by Man Ray in 1922, is at the Getty Museum, in L.A. Man Ray photographed Stein for the first time in 1922, and was granted exclusive rights to photograph her until 1930.

PS5: Finally, click on the link for the portrait of Jo Davidson by Gertrude Stein in Vanity Fair, February 1923.

National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.

March 22nd, 2019