The great psychologist William James was Gertrude Stein’s teacher and mentor. As legend tells it, James once posed a single question on a final examination: “What is risk?” Stein wrote, “This is,” walked out of the examination room, and went about her business. Supposedly James gave Stein an A.
The beautiful, sad-looking Olga Kokhlova, a dancer with Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, sits with her right arm draped over the back of a chair, a partially open fan in her lap. The dark floral patterns of her dress and the upholstery stand out against the flat background of pale gold.