In the previous post, I, as Alice, wrote a spoof of “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” Now, as an antidote to that disrespectful take on the All-American holiday classic, I’ve written a “legitimate” poem inspired by a press photo that has long fascinated me of Alice B. Toklas, Janet Flanner and the Picasso portrait.
In 1955, there was a major Picasso retrospective in Paris. Among the works shown was his 1906 portrait of Gertrude Stein, which had been shipped to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York per her will, but was returned to Paris for the exhibition. For Alice to see the portrait again must have been an emotional experience.
My poem alludes both to the famous Picasso quote after someone, seeing the finished painting, had said to him that the portrait looked nothing like Gertrude, as well as Alice’s conversion to Catholicism in 1957. (And Janet and Alice’s love of their cigarettes!)
Janet Flanner was a longtime friend of GertrudeandAlice and would regularly include items about them in her Letter from Paris in The New Yorker magazine writing under the name “Genêt.”