|A matt silver print on stiff, double-weight paper showing Alice B. Toklas, the life partner of the writer Gertrude Stein.
Born Alice Babette Toklas in San Francisco into a middle-class Jewish family, she attended schools in both San Francisco and Seattle. For a short time she also studied music at the University of Washington. She met Gertrude Stein in Paris on the day she arrived in Paris, 8 September 1907, and together they hosted a salon that attracted expatriate American writers, including as Ernest Hemingway, Paul Bowles, Thornton Wilder and Sherwood Anderson, and avant-garde painters, including Picasso, Matisse and Braque. Acting as Stein's confidante, lover, cook, secretary, muse, editor, critic, and general organizer, Toklas remained a background figure, chiefly living in the shadow of Stein, until Stein published her memoirs in 1933 under the teasing title The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas. Ironically it became Stein's bestselling book. The two remained together until Gertrude Stein's death in 1946.
Toklas subsequently published her own literary memoir, a 1954 book that mixed reminiscences and recipes under the title The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook. Its most famous recipe was for ‘Haschich Fudge.’ a mixture of fruit, nuts, spices, and ‘canibus sativa’ [sic], or marijuana. In 1963 she published her autobiography, What Is Remembered, which ends abruptly with Stein's death.
Her later years were plagued by poor health and financial problems. Although Stein had left her many priceless paintings, including some by Picasso, these had all been claimed by Stein’s family. In her old age, Toklas became a Roman Catholic, as she had been told by a priest that in that way she may possibly meet Stein again in the afterlife. Toklas died in poverty at the age of 89, and was buried next to Stein in Père Lachaise cemetery, Paris.
Photographed by Carl Van Vechten.
The photographer is identified by his wetstamp on the reverse of the print. The sitter is identified by a pencilled inscription verso, which also gives the date, 13 June 1934.
The print, which is unmounted and has not border, measures 9.4” by 7.5” (139 mm by 190 mm).
condition: The print shows some faint streaks in the area of the sky to the left of the sitter but is otherwise in excellent condition.
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