Portrait of Gertrude Stein (1906)
In reacting to this painting, what stood out to most was the general lack of color variety within the canvas. The painting, which features almost exclusively warm neutrals based in red pigment, depicts a seated Gertrude Stein draped in what seems to be heavy clothing—an engulfing coat of some sort with what appears to be a dress or blouse underneath—staring into the distance with her hands relaxing in her lap. The background provides close to no context, as it is merely a wash of color with some semblance of an implied pattern near the right. Due to the color scheme as well as the date provided, it is apparent that this work is from what is referred to as Picasso’s “Rose Period.” However, with this work being created at the very end of the period, it almost foreshadows the impending Cubist era that was in the near future for the artist. In comparing this painting to Picasso’s masterpiece of the following year, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, there is a clear repetition of facial structure/features between Stein and the two central women of Les Demoiselles. It could even be inferred that, due to the similarities in the noses, eyes, and eyebrows, Stein, or her portrait, may have served as inspiration for one or more of the women in the 1907 Cubist work. The portrait of Stein still maintains certain aspects of Impressionist, as she is surrounded by—and partially comprised of—visible brush strokes and unblended colors. Despite this, there is a clear departure from the need to create an impression of the surroundings, as the face of Stein is rather well rendered with appropriate value.