Location: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, USA
Gertrude Stein (1874-1946), 1906
Oil on canvas
The sittings for this famous portrait took place in Picasso's cold studio in Paris, where the thirty-one-year old Stein posed in a rickety armchair, a warm brown coat covering her majestic bulk. The artist portrayed her in the masculine, self-assured posture of the newpaper tycoon Louis-Francois Bertin in Ingres's portrait of him (1832, Musée do Louvre, Paris).
Picasso had been impressed by the sharp mind and free manner of this American writer and collector - she would become one of his most important patrons - and he offered to paint her portrait. In autumn 1905, the many sittings began. In spring 1906, diassatisfied with the face, Picasso painted it out. When he returned to Paris that autumn, he painted, without Stein's presence, this masklike visage. Picasso was bold in grafting a proto-Cubist head on Stein's late Rose Period body, creating a startlingly unique and iconic image.