Alice B. Toklas and Gertrude Stein

Man Ray (1890–1976)
Gelatin silver print, 1922
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Gift of Isabel Wilder

This well-known portrait by Man Ray is about both the collection that hung in the atelier at 27, rue de Fleurus and its occupants. The artist was seeing Stein’s collection and meeting the two women for the first time. He had Toklas and Stein sit on either side of the fireplace they had recently installed in the atelier, their bodies subsumed in the domestic furniture, pictures, and decorative objects. Their relationship to each other is unclear; they could be sisters, friends, or two educated, well-off, unmarried women sharing a household—what was then called a “Boston marriage.” Stein sits comfortably and confidently in her ample armchair, and Toklas sits upright in one of the two small chairs she would later cover with petit point, based on designs Picasso made for her.

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