GLR September-October 2022

gressive ideas.” Bloemink doesn’t investigate this more fully, but we might at least suggest that such safe harbors of varied sexualities allowed and even encouraged mutual support and cooperative ventures among LGBT cultural producers of the kind that encouraged the Gertrude Stein-Virgil Thomson pro duction of Four Saints in Three Acts— whose gay choreogra pher from England, Frederick Ashton, came to the project via the Askews. In their youths, the Stettheimer girls lived with their mother in Stuttgart, with complementary travels throughout Europe. Florine painted even as a child and had regular art training, while also studying at a school for “upper-class” girls. In the late 1880s, the Stettheimers spent a part of each year in Berlin, but they returned to New York by the early 1890s. Florine en rolled in a four-year program at the city’s Art Students League, which maintained a liberal attitude toward female students, en abling Florine to take life drawing classes from the male model. Her early nude studies confirm a facility with the realistic ren dering of the human form. And in the beginning of the new cen tury, Florine took up various media, from colored crayons to oils applied thickly with palette knife. Similarly, contemporary European influences in her work—the Symbolism of the late 19th century, Fauvist color, and Pointillist and Postimpression ist approaches—demonstrated her willingness to experiment and to reject a modish orthodoxy. Bloemink’s stress on Stettheimer’s formal training shores up her position that she was no naïve. Her early portraits, like a somber one of sister Carrie, evince an academic command. And

a self-portrait from 1914-1916 shows Florine in artist’s smock, right hand clasping a wooden palette and paint brushes. She pre sented herself as a professional, confirming to her dubious mother and sisters that she was no dilettante. Stettheimer’s choice of métier was not typical for a woman of her class and social situation. She was “brought up under the cloak of gentility and enforced social rules”—what Bloemink characterizes as “the hermetic, financially comfortable world of New York’s prominent German-Jewish members.” Neverthe less despite the Stettheimer cocoon of female domesticity, there were tensions and jealousies, especially between the intellec tual but “extrovert” Ettie and the sharp-witted, ambitious Florine. The former was among the first women to earn a bach elor’s degree at Barnard, and later, in Germany, a doctorate in philosophy, while Florine’s observant and sly paintings some times revealed the inner life of their female clan in plein air summer scenes that included the avant-garde individuals who were the family’s guests. Ettie was both skeptical and envious of Florine’s public successes as a regular exhibiting artist—al though this was always in large group shows. In this respect, Parker Tyler’s exaggerated claim is not without some basis: Florine’s first solo show in 1916 was the last such venture. Her next one, curated by her friend Duchamp, occurred after her death at the Museum of Modern Art. In between, Florine re jected invitations to join prominent galleries, even if invited by a prominent friend like Alfred Stieglitz. It was also her policy to ask for wildly exaggerated prices for her paintings, even when desired by friends or notable art connoisseurs, so that

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September–October 2022


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