Gertrude Stein, writer and modern art collector, was born on February 3, 1874 in Pittsburgh and lived until 1946, fought two world wars and many other things.
Her parents were German Jews, but it is difficult to know if Gertrude considers herself a Jew. What is certain is that she does not like to be identified, and this later helped her to remain in occupied France. The parents were, from the perspective of American history, among the first settlers. According to the old New Yorkers of the upper classes, the requirement to realize your fortune before the American Civil War placed the Stein couple in the aristocracy. The Stein brothers arrived in America in 1841, but Gertrude’s mother’s family found Baltimore attractive even earlier.
Soon after moving to Allegheny, Pennsylvania and running a clothing company, the Stein family began to want to establish themselves in Europe. In other words, members of the Stein “clan” tended to exist as Americans in exile. So, Amelia Stein felt stuck with the project, so she took her children and moved to Vienna first. In the Austrian capital, Gertrude, who was only 3 years old, lived with nannies and guardians, in the style of a top blanket. The Stein family soon realized that they could be wealthy in Europe without being wealthy enough at home. The pleasure of buying clothes and other souvenirs, arts and collectibles, then drove them to Paris. They stayed in Europe for a year, then returned home, but to Oakland, California.
When he got back, his father Daniel got into the San Francisco streetcar business, which is a great move. She died when Gertrude was 17, and her older brother Michael took over. He did well, invested his head and was able to send his two brothers, Gertrude and Leo, abroad. Spouses Michael and Sarah Stein knew the good life and lived themselves for a while in a villa designed by Le Corbusier outside Paris.
The works of art were, after all, their wisest and daring investments. The paintings and especially the world fame of the creative member, Gertrude, made Steny one of the illustrious “tribes of America”, which has a place in US history with families like James or Adams. By promoting modern painting through personal collections, the great Stein family contributed greatly to the history of American taste, while influencing the many painters, writers, and intellectuals who stepped on the threshold of Avenue de Florus.
Gertrude studied at Harvard with the philosopher-psychologist William James (1842-1910), who understood and evaluated it. He attended pre-medical classes at Johns Hopkins, and although he dropped out last year to go to Paris, they somehow completed his aura as a scientist, a rigorous lab at Amazon. He learned from Jacob that everything counts and nothing should be rejected. From then on, any rejection or rejection seemed “interesting” to Gertrude Stein, a word she used frequently.
The Stein family experience will extend to her book as well, Made by Americans. Gertrude Stein has always found it a privilege to be an American, to benefit from this tradition built over six decades, until she noticed somewhere that America is the oldest country in the world because it was the longest in the twentieth century.
Gertrude Stein felt more of America than her family. The mother, who is the daughter of Baltimore, fell ill and died when her daughter was 14: “We are already used to living without her.” Even her alliance with her favorite brother, Leo, ends in a bitter cut.
When Gertrude died on July 27, 1946, Leo heard the news in the newspapers, commenting, “I cannot say he touched me. I lost all respect for her.” They were all weird personalities (except perhaps Michael), but, as she herself said, “It takes time to be gay, time and a certain way to inform others” …