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Gallery Four


The Steins formed close bonds with the emerging artists whose works they collected. They went horseback riding and swimming with Matisse and dined on his wife's rabbit stew; arranged for Harriet Lane Levy and Alice Toklas, friends from San Francisco, to take French lessons from Picasso's girlfriend Fernande Olivier; and researched inexpensive villa rentals for Henri Manguin and his family. On occasion Leo had lunch with Matisse and dinner with Picasso on the same day. Both artists sent the Steins sketches and reports of their work in progress.

Upon moving to Paris, the Steins enthusiastically abandoned upper-middle-class American constraints and embraced the bohemian possibilities of their new life. The physical manifestation of this change was their penchant for wearing sandals, which seemed as odd to their European acquaintances as it did to the Americans. Leo became a vegetarian and stopped trimming his beard. Gertrude's friends back home teased her about her loose brown corduroy robes. "Are you a nun, a learned doctor or are we ignorant as to the meaning of your unique costume?"

Gertrude particularly enjoyed her visits to Picasso at the Bateau Lavoir, the ramshackle collection of artists' studios in Montmartre. Savvy and in need of money, the young Spaniard recognized that the Stein family—both the rue de Fleurus and the rue Madame households—could be helpful to him. He painted casual portraits of Leo and Allan and a more formal one of Gertrude. Of all the Steins, it was Gertrude who most liked to pose, and she once admitted to feeling slightly hurt that Matisse never asked her.

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