February 03, 1874. Gertrude Stein (February 3, 1874 - July 27, 1946) was a noted American art collector of seminal modernist paintings and an experimental writer of novels, poetry and plays, which eschewed the narrative, linear, and temporal conventions of 19th century literature. She was born in West Allegheny (Pittsburgh), Pennsylvania, raised in Oakland, California, and moved to Paris in 1903, making France her home for the remainder of her life. In this image: American writer Gertrude Stein works at her desk in Paris, France, on Nov. 22, 1938.
Gertrude Stein is justly famous for her innovative modern writing, her friendship with Ernest Hemingway, and her patronage of vanguard painters in Paris, including Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso. One of America’s most famous expatriates, Stein lived in France from 1903 until her death in 1946. Born in Allegheny, Pennsylvania, she spent most of her childhood in Oakland while her father supported the family by investing in San Francisco street cars.
An imposing woman physically, Gertrude Stein was also large in the multiple ways she inhabited and reconstructed the world. Her reach across the arts was extraordinary. Her own métier was words, and she experimented radically with language. But she also sought ways to collaborate with other writers, artists, and composers to reach new audiences. Even those who have never read her writing probably recognize “rose is a rose is a rose is a rose.” And Californians from Oakland still bristle when they hear her well-known observation “There is no there there,” which actually referred to Stein’s childhood home and neighborhood, not to the city of Oakland.