The Steins Collect: Matisse, Picasso, and the Parisian Avant-Garde–Exhibit at the Met

Entrance Photo of the Stein Family.  Photography is not allowed at the exhibit, so this was the only one I could get.  All my other photos are from postcards or the Internet.

The Stein family consisting of Gertrude, her brother Leo and another brother Michael and his wife Sarah lived in Paris in the WWI era.  The family held real estate and investments in San Francisco, the income of which supported them, not luxuriously,  but well enough that they didn’t have to worry about working for a living.

Leo Stein one day after visiting an art exhibition in Paris became determined to become an artist.  He found a two-bedroom studio at 27 Rue de Fleurus in Paris near the Luxembourg Gardens.  In 1910 Gertrude moved to this apartment where she lived with Alice B. Toklas.

Michael worked for the Cable Cars in San Francisco, but quit and moved with his wife Sarah to Paris.  They were planning on staying a year, but that turned into 30 years.  They lived at 58, Rue Madame.  Michael was considered the most business minded one of the family, therefore he took over the job of handling the family finances.

The Steins Painting Collection in their Paris Apartment

This family had a real eye for art.  With every spare dollar they bought paintings made by their arty friends, like Picasso and Matisse, whom they introduced to each other.  They could see that they were great artists before anyone else could.  In the exhibit, there are photographs of their studio with their paintings covering the walls so it is easy to see what was in their collection.  The paintings were mostly sold off either before or after WWI, but because of photographs of their studio it’s possible to see what was in their collections throughout the years.  The curators at the MMA have reassembled from many sources much of their original collection.  The collection consists of early works of Matisse, Picasso, Gris, and others not quite as famous.  Below are two of the pictures that were among the ones I liked the best.

“Tea” by Matisse (oil on canvas 1919)   The two women look as though they are posing for someone to snap their photo, and the dog is  looking directly at the viewer as it would look if  a camera were taking its photo.

What I loved most about the exhibit were the huge photographs of the Stein’s studio and of the Steins that were presented on a screen like a still movie.  Since photographs of the exhibit aren’t allowed, my photos herein are from postcards that are sold at the exhibit.

In 1926 Michael and Sarah Stein had LeCorbusier build them a house in Paris–named the Villa Stein-de Monzie.  In the exhibit, there is a short one-minute film showing the house. Following is a short film–with music by Louis Armstrong–about the Villa I found on YouTube, but it isn’t the same film as in the exhibit. The one in the exhibit, about the same length, looks like a home movie taken at the time.

in 1935 Michael and Sarah Stein, because of financial reasons, returned to Palo Alto, California where they lived the rest of their lives.

The Bay of Nice by Henri Matisse (Oil on canvas 1918)

Check out the Exhibit on the Metropolitan Museum of Art site on the internet from which I took the “Boy with Butterfly Net. by Matisse.”

Matisse - Boy with Butterfly Net
Matisse – Boy with Butterfly Net (1907)

2 thoughts on “The Steins Collect: Matisse, Picasso, and the Parisian Avant-Garde–Exhibit at the Met

  1. Dear ,

    It is a wonderfull exhibition .

    And what a pleasure to see the portrait of Gertrude Stein by Riba-Rovira .

    And also the Preface Gertrude Stein wrote for his first exhibition in the Galerie Roquepine in Paris on 1945 .Where we can read Gertrude Stein writing Riba-Rovira”will go farther than Cezanne…will succeed in where Picasso failed…I am fascinated “by Riba-Rovira she tells us .

    And you are you also fascinated indeed as Gertrude Stein ?

    But Gertrude Stein spoke also in this same document about Matisse and Juan Gris .And we learn Riba-Rovira went each week in Gertrude Stein’s saloon rue Christine .
    With Edward Burns and Carl Van Vechten we can know Riba-Rovira did others portraits of Gertrude Stein .

    But we do not know where they are ;and you do you know perhaps ?

    With this wonderful portrait we do not forget it is the last time Gertrude Stein sat for an artist who is Riba-Rovira .
    So it is one of the last text where she gives her last art vision .As a light over that exhibition now at the Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York .

    Coming from San Francisco “Seeing five stories” to Washington and now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York for our pleasure .

    And the must is to see for the first time in the same place portraits by Picasso, Picabia, Tall-Coat, Riba-Rovira, Valloton .

    You have the translate of Gertrude Stein’s Riba-Rovira Preface on english Gertrude Stein’s page and in the catalog of this exhibition you can see in first place the mention of this portrait .And also other pictures Gertrude Stein bought him .

    And you have another place where you can see now an exhibition in Valencia in Spain “Homenage a Gertrude Stein” by Riba-Rovira in Galleria Muro ,if you like art …



    1. Cesera, Thank you so much for your enlightened comment. I want to go back now and see the exhibit again. I didn’t know anything about Riba-Rovira. I have so much more to learn about the art world surrounding G.Stein.


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