22 July 2014

after Gertrude

“I am I because my little dog knows me.” Gertrude Stein
portrait of Alice Toklas ,1952.(probably with Basket II)

Dora Maar and her portrait of Alice B. Toklas by Michel Sima.

“I always say that you cannot tell what a picture really is or what an object really is until you dust it every day and you cannot tell what a book is until you type it or proof-read it. It then does something to you that only reading it never can do.” ― Gertrude Stein, The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas
(Stein wrote the book-posing as Alice-it turned out to be Stein's most popular and best selling work.)

When Gertrude Stein died in 1946 she left a portion of her estate to her Alice, her lifelong partner- along with paintings by Picasso. Together since 1907, the 39 year relationship wasn't recognized legally and while Alice was vacationing, Stein's relatives removed the paintings. She had been all things to Stein, living in the background as confidante, lover, cook, secretary, muse, editor, critic. To support herself, Toklas turned to friends and writing after the theft. The Alice Toklas Cookbook reflects on her life with Stein and includes her recipes as well. She lived for 21 years after Stein's death and died in poverty at the age of 89.
She said of Gertrude, “I am nothing, but a memory of her.”


  1. The story of the family stealing the paintings is one that has happened many times, to many people, and under very similar circumstances.

  2. It does make me sad, that this happens to life partners, and what partners Toklas and Stein were!
    So interesting that Dora Marr has the painting by Sima, I am curious of that occurrence! Wandering off topic; Picasso's portraits of Marr tell all of his misogamy.

    The Arts by Karena

  3. A very similar story just happened...Huguette Clark and Bellosguardo. A Summer Home which was her beloved vision in her shimmering memory was too benefit with Art, Furniture, Books etc...only but for the IN NAME ONLY FAMILY - who ignored her all her life - during infamous Blackouts, Riots and Storms and Humid Summers without AC, coming in too break the will, giving over 40mil to lawyers, almost 40 to themselves...and Bellosguardo gets a Doll Collection...no Monets, Renoirs, Sargent's etc. Wonder what happened to her Van Gogh. I will not mention the all too many friends who past on from illnesses, detested and reviled by family for the unspoken love forbidden...who cast aside longtime lovers for the money.

  4. As it has always been said: "There should be a law." And so it will go until there finally is, how sad.

  5. Man's inhumanity crushes all of our souls.
    Beautiful post.

  6. Man's inhumanity crushes all of our souls.
    Beautiful post.

  7. Now there is same-sex marriage in some states......(thank the Lord in mine!!!) California!

    This is such a tragedy......I knew nothing of it!

    Thank you, and thank you again!!

    We rely on you!

    And we love you and your blog!!


  8. Mr Ruffner is so right, and yet the precaution we've observed so commonly in the last 25 years, of exorbitant testamentary explicitness in layers of remainderman protection, afford only posthumously a coming out unconscionably deferred. A problem of the Windsor case, although that was about an entitlement to legal recourse in the survivor. Waste persists in prejudice, despite every protection of the law - as you've diligently shown.



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