GERTRUDE STEIN (1874–1946) was a writer, critic and icon of avant-garde culture. She was born in Pittsburgh into a prosperous German-Jewish family. Educated in France and the USA, she worked under the pioneering psychologist William James and later studied medicine.
Growing bored, she moved to Paris from 1903 with her brother Leo, where she lived for 40 years. They became important patrons of the arts, acquiring pictures by Cézanne, Renoir, Gauguin, Manet, Toulouse-Lautrec and contemporary artists such as Picasso and Braque. She also began to write: her novel QED was followed by other books including Three Lives and The Making of Americans.
In 1909 Alice B. Toklas joined the Stein ménage and their home became a popular meeting place for writers and painters. Gertrude Stein’s last words were: ‘What is the answer?’ Receiving no reply, she laughed and said, ‘Then what is the question?'