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There have been some badass women in the art world over the years, and amongst these ruling matriarchs was none other than Gertrude Stein.

If there were ever a Khaleesi of the art world, it would definitely be Gertrude. Though she never ruled the seven kingdoms, Gertrude dominated the circle of artists, writers and intellectuals around her in early twentieth century Paris. Gertrude wasn’t an artist herself but being a hardcore fan and avid collector of the decidedly more “modern” art of the times, she became chummy with the artsy types, and a mentor/advisor to some.

Gertrude and her brother, Leo, loved these people and their company so much that they began hosting their famous salons. Salon is a fancy word for a rad party thrown by the most popular kid around…though guests probably sipped fine wine and had intellectual debates at Gertrude’s, as opposed to guzzling from a beer bong and passing out. But who knows! Gatherings at the Steins’ usually lasted up till dawn, and with crazies like Picasso, Braque, Duchamp, Matisse, Hemingway and Fitzgerald thrown in the mix…one can only imagine what they got up to. You can make a teeny estimate of life at the Stein’s if you watch Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, with Kathy Bates emulating Gertrude Stein’s domineering, un-corseted, DGAF self. While Stein entertained her prominent friends, her lesbian partner, Alice B. Toklas, tended to their wives and girlfriends. Guess we know who wore the pants in the house.

The salons started off with a viewing of Matisse’s work alongside Cezanne’s. One thing led to another, Matisse would bring an entourage, then there were others who felt like they could bring their friends too, and pretty soon one Stein’s apartment would be buzzing with the bohemians of Paris. Stein needed her privacy though, to do her own work, i.e. writing books, so she established Saturday evenings as the time and day for everyone to party at her place.

She and Picasso got on like a house on fire, which brings us back to this particular painting. Picasso and Gertrude had about ninety sittings before Picasso let it go, unable to get the right angle, in his opinion at least. Gertrude loved this picture so much that she held on to it as part of her collection until the day she died. It was an important one in Picasso’s career too, because you can see him this close to his Cubist breakthrough. He was looking at the really primitive art of his homeland for inspiration, which is why you can definitely see the influence of Iberian sculpture in this portrait and in pictures that followed right after, like Les Demoiselles d’ Avignon. You can also tell that she’s got a formidable personality…but we at Sartle like our ladies tough.


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Here is what Wikipedia says about Portrait of Gertrude Stein

Portrait of Gertrude Stein (French: Portrait de Gertrude Stein) is an oil-on-canvas painting of the American writer and art collector Gertrude Stein by Pablo Picasso, which was begun in 1905 and finished the following year. The painting is housed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. It is considered one of the important works of Picasso's Rose Period. The portrait has historical significance, due to the subject's role in Picasso's early life as a struggling artist and eventual commercial success. It also represents a significant transitional step in the artist's move towards Cubism.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Portrait of Gertrude Stein