• Email
  • Print

The Stout Woman

In response to:

O'Keeffe's Trail from the March 31, 1977 issue

To the Editors:

For the record: In her recent article on Georgia O’Keeffe (NYR, March 31), Barbara Rose asserts, incorrectly, that I have quoted Alfred Stieglitz as recalling “the extraordinary arrival of” Gertrude Stein at his gallery “291.” Miss Rose claims, also erroneously, that Stieglitz told me Miss Stein was “led by an aggressive bulldog,” handed him “a sheaf of manuscripts,” and “tried to force the lot on him.”

I have clearly stated that a visitor brought the Stein manuscripts to Stieglitz. No one forced anything upon him. After he looked at the writings and accepted two articles for publication, as I have related, the visitor asked him whether he did not want to know the author’s name. A footnote to my account even gives the name of the “stout woman” I was told brought the manuscripts to “291”: Mrs. Charles Knoblauch.

Dorothy Norman

New York City

Barbara Rose replies:

On page 111 of her book, Mrs. Norman quotes Stieglitz’s description of an encounter with “a woman, dark and bulksome” in the home of Leo Stein. On the next page, she has Stieglitz recount the following:

In December 1911, or perhaps it was January 1912, a huge woman leading a huge Boston bulldog entered 291. She had a portfolio filled with manuscripts under her arm. It was a funny sight to see the woman with her bulldog and bursting portfolio in that tiny room.

After Stieglitz had accepted the Matisse and Picasso articles, the woman implored him to look at the rest of the material in the portfolio, since she had been advised that he was the “one man in this country…crazy enough to be interested in anything like them” after every publisher in town had turned them down. Stieglitz declined the invitation. So much for the bulldog, the sheaf of manuscripts, and the pressure on Stieglitz to take more than the two essays he had selected. I confess that since neither was identified directly in the text, I did confuse the dark bulksome woman who was Miss Stein with the stout woman with the bulldog who was her emissary.

  • Email
  • Print