Sir Francis Rose and Gertrude Stein, Bilignin

Sir Cecil Beaton (1904–1980)
Modern print from scan of original negative, 1939
Courtesy The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive at Sotheby’s
London, England

The art dealer Georges Maratier—the lover of Stein follower Kristians Tonny—introduced Stein to paintings by the twenty-two-year-old Sir Francis Rose at an exhibition in Paris. Stein bought several canvases and arranged to meet the artist. Rose, a playboy born to Scottish gentry, was flattered by Stein’s attention and created numerous tributes to her. Stein, hoping that he might become her next Picasso, purchased dozens of Rose’s works. She nurtured his career by displaying his paintings in her homes, making professional connections for him in America, and writing about him. In her role as matchmaker, she introduced him to photographer Cecil Beaton. Here, Rose shows off a painting he has made in Bilignin, where he vacationed in 1939 with Beaton, Stein, and Toklas. Despite Stein’s advocacy, Rose never became her new Picasso. Beaton offered her this explanation: “Serious critics haven’t written about him much, because they are afraid of disagreeing with what you [have said] . . . and they can’t see for themselves that you are right.”