Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas in their Studio at 27, rue de Fleurus (Primary Title)

Man Ray, American, 1890 - 1976 (Artist)

Gelatin silver print
Overall: 3 3/4 × 4 3/4 in. (9.53 × 12.07 cm)

This double portrait of the American expatriate writer, poet, playwright, and art collector Gertrude Stein (1874–1946) and Alice Babette Toklas (1877–1967), her secretary, editor, archivist, cook, and lifelong partner, was made in 1922 in the home they shared together at 27 rue de Fleurus. The couple, who both came from middle-class Jewish families in San Francisco, met in Paris in the fall of 1907 and fell in love. Man Ray’s portrait captures their daily activities and domestic surroundings, including the furniture, objects, and paintings they lived with, as much as the sitters themselves. Toklas enters the room through a doorway, her body backlit by the sun streaming in from the courtyard, while Stein sits at her writing table with a stack of books beside her. In 1933, a variant version of this photograph was published on the cover of The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, Gertrude Stein’s best-selling memoir of the lesbian couple’s life together in bohemian Paris, which helped establish Stein’s reputation as a literary innovator and international celebrity.

Adolph D. and Wilkins C. Williams Fund, by exchange
Man Ray: The Paris Years, VMFA, October 30, 2021 – February 21, 2022

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