Gertrude Stein, Bilignin

George Platt Lynes (1907–1955)
Toned gelatin silver print, 1931
The Baltimore Museum of Art: The Cone Collection, Gift of Adelyn D. Breeskin BMA 1985.3
© Estate of George Platt Lynes
Photography by Mitro Hood

In 1925 the eighteen-year-old George Platt Lynes looked up Stein in Paris during his first tour of Europe. He aspired to be a writer and would take up photography only later. Stein adopted him as one of her young men, giving him the pet name “Baby George.” When Lynes, back home in New Jersey, opened a bookshop and launched a small publishing enterprise, he printed and distributed Stein’s Descriptions of Literature and published pieces by René Crevel and Ernest Hemingway, two authors he had met through Stein. After making a success of the bookstore for three years, Lynes sold it to finance a return to Europe in the company of his lovers, the writers Monroe Wheeler and Glenway Wescott. They encouraged Lynes to take photography, until then his hobby, seriously. When Lynes visited Stein and Toklas in Bilignin in 1931, he took this photograph of Stein looking out over the Rhône Valley. Another image from the series he took at Bilignin was featured on the cover of Time magazine two years later.