"TO MARK… WHO WAS SUCH A PLEASANT PART OF THAT LOVELY TWENTY FOUR HOURS": EXCEPTIONAL FIRST EDITION OF PORTRAITS AND PRAYERS, WONDERFULLY INSCRIBED BY GERTRUDE STEIN TO HER FRIEND, JOURNALIST MARK LUTZ, THE PARTNER OF STEIN'S VERY CLOSE FRIEND AND SUPPORTER CARL VAN VECHTEN, THE FAMOUS WRITER AND PHOTOGRAPHER
STEIN, Gertrude. Portraits and Prayers. New York: Random House, (1934). Octavo, original patterned brown and photographic cloth, paper spine label. $1800.
First edition of this collection including Stein's impressions of famous 1930s personalities, inscribed to the Virginia journalist Mark Lutz, Stein's friend and the partner of one of Stein's closest friends, Carl Van Vechten (who shot the cover photograph for this book): "To Mark, Who so pleasantly kept the numbers(?) of all these lovely photographs, and was such a pleasant part of that lovely twenty four hours. Gertrude Stein."Playful and innovative, Portraits and Prayers consists of Stein's numerous first-hand impressions of artists, authors, and composers, written before the immensely successful Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas and published just one year after. Includes amusing entries on Erik Satie, Max Jacob, Guillaume Apollinaire, Juan Gris, Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Jean Cocteau, Edith Sitwell, Virgil Thomson, Ernest Hemingway, and others.
Without original glassine. This copy was inscribed during Stein's famous American lecture tour. "Beginning in 1933, when her book The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas became a best-seller, Stein became a celebrity in her home country. In 1934 the opera she created with Virgil Thomson, Four Saints in Three Acts, opened on Broadway; and in the fall of 1934, Stein returned to the United States for the first time in nearly 30 years. For seven months, with Toklas at her side, Stein traveled by car, train, or plane across America, speaking about her writing and love of modern painting to the young on college campuses and to art associations and museum audiences. She averaged two to three lectures a week—about 70 in all—and finally achieved the fame she always desired. The press lionized Stein, giving her more coverage, headlines, and photographs than she had ever before received" (National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian). Although Stein was well-loved, her lectures often proved incomprehensible to those attending them. Stein's speech difficulties (palilalia, an involuntary repetition of words often associated with Tourette's) rendered Stein less understandable in speech than in writing, though her fans remained devoted and often blamed themselves for failing to understand her genius when confronted with it in person. This copy is inscribed from Gertrude Stein to Mark Lutz, a Virginia newspaper critic who was also the romantic partner of one of Stein's most fervent American supporters, writer and photographer Carl Van Vechten. The inscription reads: "To Mark, Who so pleasantly kept the [illegible] of all these lovely photographs, and was such a pleasant part of that lovely twenty four hours. Gertrude Stein." The inscription appears to be a reference to a photo session that Stein had with Carl Van Vechten when Van Vechten and Lutz stayed overnight at Stein and Toklas' home in France from June 12-13, 1934. In a letter sent two days later on June 14, Van Vechten writes: "It was too divine—that all too short 24 hours chez vous—and Marco [Mark] has it down (he wants me to thank you & Alice) as among the Alpine moments of his life!" Van Vechten was known for his artistic photographer and portraiture and produced the cover photograph of Stein during the brief June visit to France.
This copy is additionally inscribed in an unknown hand (incorrectly
identified in an unknown pencil hand as Alice B. Toklas): "Dear ML [likely Mark Lutz] and MN: I guess Gertrude's sweet inscription will send you! You deserve it all & more. The photographs were good because you were there. M. New York November 2, 1934." This book was formally published on November 7, 1934, but letters between Stein and Carl Van Vechten appear to indicate that Stein was in possession of an advance copy as early as October 1, 1934 and that Van Vechten had seen a publisher's dummy as of October 3. Thus, it is entirely possible that Stein had this copy in hand before the official publication date over a month later. Presumably, she then inscribed it for Mark Lutz when she arrived in New York for her lecture tour on October 23, 1934 and had it passed on to him by the unidentified "M" [not the actress turned personal assistant Miriam Hopkins]. Bookplate reading: "Given in Memory of Bobby H. Chandler of "Cary Hill," 1741. Lutz and Chandler were both graduates of the University of Richmond, though roughly 20 years apart. Cary Hill is a rural Virginia estate/plantation with the main house dating to 1741. While today it is an event venue, it was once a busy private home that hosted a number of prominent individuals. The area around Cary Hill was very much Mark Lutz's home turf, though any specific association with Cary Hill is unknown.
Interior generally fine, front inner paper hinge starting slightly but holding, only slightest rubbing and toning to rubbing. A near-fine copy, most desirable inscribed and with such an outstanding association.