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Gertrude Stein

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, Malaga 1881–1973 Mougins, France )

Oil on canvas
39 3/8 x 32in. (100 x 81.3cm) 47 x 41 x 2 3/4 in. (119.4 x 104.1 x 7 cm) (Frame)
Credit Line:
Bequest of Gertrude Stein, 1946
Accession Number:
Rights and Reproduction:
© 2014 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
  • Description

    "For me, it is I, and it is the only reproduction of me which is always I, for me." Thus wrote Gertrude Stein (1874-1946) in 1938. For Stein, this painting was proof of her irrevocable link to Picasso, whom she would come to regard as the greatest artist of her time. She saw the painting as a collaboration between two emerging giants: a twenty-four-year-old Spanish painter and a thirty-two-year-old American writer, two expatriates in Paris, each as yet unrecognized but both destined for greatness.
    Picasso had always been drawn to poets-his studio door was marked "Au rendez-vous des poètes"-but Gertrude's appeal was especially strong. As Fernande Olivier wrote, Picasso "was so attracted to Mlle Stein's physical presence that he suggested he paint her portrait, without even waiting to get to know her better."
    They met after Stein had acquired several of his pictures. Although Picasso usually worked quickly, there were many sittings throughout the winter of 1905-6. The figure remained the same, but the head was repainted at least three times, evolving from a full profile to the nearly frontal view of the final state.
    Stein and Picasso remained good friends. She and her brother boosted his career enormously, both through direct purchases and by encouraging others-including Ambroise Vollard and Alfred Stieglitz-to do the same. Moreover, countless artists and writers first encountered Picasso's work at Stein's famous Saturday salons. Stein bequeathed the portrait to the Metropolitan in 1946; it was the first painting by Picasso to enter the Museum's collection.

  • Provenance

    Gertrude Stein, Paris (gift of the artist, autumn 1906, until d. 1946; her bequest to MMA, 1946)

  • Exhibition History

    Beaubourg, Paris- May 25 - September 19, 1977.

    New York: Museum of Modern Art, May 22 - September 16, 1980. ¦Pablo Picasso: A Retrospective¦. P. 73 (illus. in color).

    Madrid, Spain: Museo Espanol de Arte Contemporaneo, November 5 - December 27, 1981. Barcelona, Spain: Museo Picasso, January 1 - February 28, 1982. ¦Picasso 1871-1973: Exposicion Antologica¦. No. 44, p. 120, discussed (illustrated in color, p. 121).

    Tokyo, Japan: National Museum of Art, April 2 - May 29, 1983. Kyoto, Japan: Municipal Museum of Art, June 7 - July 24, 1983. Pablo Picasso Exhibition.

    Australia: Australian National Gallery, Mar. 1-Apr. 27, 1986; Queensland Art Gallery, May 7-July 1, 1986. ¦20th Century Masters from The Metropolitan Museum of Art¦. exh. cat., p. 13 (illus. in color).

    New York: Museum of Modern Art, October 3, 1990 - January 15, 1991; ¦High and Low: Modern Art and Popular Culture¦. exh. cat., p. 129 (illus. in color), p. 128 (disscussed).

    New York: Museum of Modern Art, Apr. 28-Sept. 17, 1996; Paris: Grand Palais, Oct. 1996-Jan. 1997. ¦Picasso and Portraiture: Representation and Transformation¦. Exh. cat., William Rubin, p. 267 (illus. in color).

    Washington DC, National Gallery of Art, March 30 - July 27, 1997; ¦Picasso, The Early Years: 1892-1906¦. Exh. cat.,p. 335, Plate 168 (illus. in color), p. 283, fig. 11 (illus. in B&W) pp. 283-285 (discussed).

    London: Tate Modern,May 9 - August 18, 2002; New York: Museum of Modern Art, February 12-May 27, 2003. Matisse/Picasso. Cat. no. 58, p. 114 (ill. in color).

    Madrid, Spain: Museo National del Prado, October 18, 2004-February 6,
    2005, The Spanish Portrait: from El Greco to Picasso. p.318, no.83, illus. in color.

    San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. "The Steins Collect: Matisse, Picasso, and the Parisian Avant Garde," May 21–September 6, 2011, no. 238.

    Paris. Grand Palais, Galeries nationales. "Matisse, Cézanne, Picasso... L'aventure des Stein," October 5, 2011–January 16, 2012, no. 120.

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Steins Collect: Matisse, Picasso, and the Parisian Avant Garde," February 21–June 3, 2012, no. 238.

  • References

    Matisse Picasso. Exhibition catalogue. London: Tate Publishing, 2002. Cat. no. 58, p. 114 (ill. in color).

    Paloma Alarco, Malcolm Warner, eds. The Mirror and The Mask: Portraiture in the Age of Picasso, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid, Spain, February 6 - May 20, 2007; Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, Texas, June 17-September 16, 2007, ill. p. 26, pp. 25-26 (discussed). (ill. in color)

    Michael Fitzgerald, with a chronology by Julia May Boddewyn, Picasso and American Art, Whitney Museum of Art, New York, September 28, 2006 - January 28, 2007; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, California, February 25 - May 28, 2007; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, June 17 - September 9, 2007, ill. p. 20 (ill. in black and white)

    Picasso: Tradition and Avant-garde, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, Spain, May 22–September 17, 2006, ill. p. 118.

    Picasso: Challenging the Past. Exhibition catalogue. London: National Gallery Company Limited, 2009. Figure 23, p. 55 (ill. in color).

    Kenneth E. Silver. Paris Portraits; Artists, Friends, and Lovers, The Bruce Museum, Greenwich, Connecticut, September 27, 2008- January 4, 2009, ill. p. 15.

    Janet Bishop, Cécile Debray, and Rebecca Rabinow, eds. The Steins Collect: Matisse, Picasso, and the Parisian Avant Garde. Exh. cat., San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. San Francisco, 2011, pp. 35, 58, 64, 223–24, 234, 244–45, 249 n. 15, p. 250 nn. 30, 31, pp. 255, 260, 266, 316, 430, 464, no. 238, colorpl. 183, pls. 198, 352, 354, 356, 361, 383 (installation photos).

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History