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.
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.
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.
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.”