Gertrude Stein

Jo Davidson (1883–1952)
Terra-cotta, 1922–23
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Dr. Maury Leibovitz

Jo Davidson, an American sculptor who specialized in making realistic busts of public figures, lived in France for most of his adult life. Seeing Picasso’s and Vallotton’s paintings of Stein may have inspired him to use the same three-quarter view of her in a life-sized sculpture-in-the-round. Davidson gave Stein a kindhearted face and the plump body of a grandmother. Wearing a skirt and blouse, cuffs with buttons, and a scarf with a pin, Stein sits comfortably in real space, eyes cast downward, relaxed and approachable. Davidson cast his clay model of Stein once in terra-cotta and then in a small edition of bronzes.