"You can be a museum, or you can be modern, but you cannot be both." It was thanks to that famous dictum that the Metropolitan received, in 1947, its first and arguably most famous painting by Pablo Picasso, the 1906 portrait of Gertrude Stein, as a bequest of the sitter.
She wanted her portrait, tangible proof of her link to the man she considered to be the greatest artist of the twentieth century, to be displayed at the Metropolitan rather than New York's Museum of Modern Art. Usually on view in this room, Picasso's Gertrude Stein is currently featured in a traveling exhibition, The Steins Collect: Matisse, Picasso, and the Parisian Avant-Garde, which will be shown at the Metropolitan February 28–June 3, 2012.
In the sixty-five years since 1947, the Museum's Picasso collection has grown to nearly one hundred original paintings and works on paper and nearly four hundred prints. Especially rich in early works, the collection boasts masterpieces such as Seated Harlequin, The Blind Man's Meal, The Actor, and La Coiffure.
Matisse's great 1912 canvas Nasturtiums with the Painting "Dance" often hangs in this gallery. Thanks to the generosity of Pierre and Maria-Gaetana Matisse, the artist's son and daughter-in-law, many more works by Matisse are displayed here.
This gallery is one of ten that comprise the Henry J. Heinz II Galleries.