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Gertrude Stein
Portrait of Mabel Dodge at the Villa Curonia
Florence: privately printed
1912

Gertrude Stein and her brother Leo were among the numerous writers, artists, and intellectuals whom Mabel Dodge entertained at her home outside Florence in the years just after the turn of the century. She had the literary portrait Stein made of her privately printed and she distributed copies to friends. The “portrait,” which begins with the famous line “The days are wonderful and the nights are wonderful and the life is pleasant,” was considered by many to be the linguistic equivalent to the Cubist paintings of the period. Her telling inscription in this, Carl Van Vechten’s copy of the book, indicates that she felt implicated in the successes and accomplishments of those who frequented her gatherings. Though Dodge and Van Vechten had a volatile, on-again-off-again friendship, it was she who introduced Van Vechten to Gertrude Stein, who would become his lifelong friend. Carl Van Vechten, in fact, was largely responsible for promoting Stein’s work in the United States, including helping to have her opera, Four Saints in Three Acts, produced in Hartford, Connecticut, and New York City. In 1934, Mabel inscribed his copy of Portrait of Mabel Dodge at the Villa Curonia: “I gave you this in 1912 and the result is...‘Four Saints’...so life has continuity, hasn’t it Carl?” For her part, Stein agreed, “Life has continuity for Mabel and for us all,” she wrote, “or it had.”

 

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