In his ARTnews review of Yale's 1951 commemorative exhibition on writer Gertrude Stein and her celebrated collection, art critic Henry McBride praised the American expatriate as unique among collectors because she "collected geniuses rather than masterpieces." He continued, however, that her collection was "notable more for early discernment than for final achievement." In 1903 Stein joined her brother, Leo, in Paris, after abandoning a four-year study of brain anatomy at Johns Hopkins University Medical School. Collecting the works of Cézanne, Renoir, Rousseau, Gauguin, Matisse, and Picasso before they had gained international acceptance, the siblings soon found themselves at the center of one of the most important salons in Paris. Stein occasionally became the subject for artists, as seen in the painting by Francis Picabia that hangs above her head in this photograph by Cecil Beaton, which accompanied McBride's review. Stylistically dissimilar from Beaton's usual glamorous fashion photography, this image captures, with great sensitivity, a subdued and reflective Stein just months before her death in 1946.
Cecil Beaton (1904–1980)
Gelatin silver print, 1946 (printed 2002)
Published February 1951
Cecil Beaton Archives, Sotheby's, London
© Cecil Beaton Archives, Courtesy of Sotheby's, London
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