As a matter of fact he did progress very rapidly. He used to come a great deal to the rue de Fleurus. Gertrude Stein used to delight in him. He was funny and he painted one rather fine picture, the three graces standing in front of Paris, an enormous picture in which he combined everybodyâ€™s ideas and added a certain french clarity and freshness of his own. It had a rather remarkable atmosphere and it had a great success. After that his pictures lost all quality, they grew big and empty or small and empty. I remember his bringing one of these small ones to the house, saying, look I am bringing you a small picture, a jewel. It is small, said Gertrude Stein, but is it a jewel.
This was about the time too that Prichard of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and later of the Kensington Museum began coming. Prichard brought a great many young Oxford men. They were very nice in the room, and they thought Picasso wonderful. They felt and indeed in a way it was true that he had a halo. With these Oxford men came Thomas Whittemore of Tufts College. He was fresh and engaging and later to Gertrude Steinâ€™s great delight he one day said, all blue is precious.
And later on Gertrude Stein saw the mother and by that time I was in Paris and I was taken along.
Robert Coates we also met at the Jewettsâ€™ in those early days just after the war. I remember the day very well. It was a cold, dark day, on an upper floor of a hotel. There were a number of young men there and suddenly Gertrude Stein said she had forgotten to put the light on her car and she did not want another fine, we had just had one because I had blown the klaxon at a policeman trying to get him out of our way and she had received one by going the wrong way around a post. Alright, said a red-haired young man and immediately he was down and back. The light is on, he announced. How did you know which my car was, asked Gertrude Stein. Oh I knew, said Coates. We always liked Coates. It is extraordinary in wandering about Paris how very few people you know you meet, but we often met Coates hatless and red-headed in the most unexpected places. This was just about the time of Broom, about which I will tell very soon, and Gertrude Stein took a very deep interest in Coatesâ€™ work as soon as he showed it to her. She said he was the one young man who had an individual rhythm, his words made a sound to the eyes, most peopleâ€™s words do not. We also liked Coatesâ€™ address, the City Hotel, on the island, and we liked all his ways.
Our headquarters was the assembly-room of one of the big school-buildings in Mulhouse. The german school teachers had disappeared and french school teachers who happened to be in the army had been put in temporarily to teach. The head of our school was in despair, not about the docility of his pupils nor their desire to learn french, but on account of their clothes. French children are all always neatly clothed. There is no such thing as a ragged child, even orphans farmed out in country villages are neatly dressed, just as all french women are neat, even the poor and the aged. They may not always be clean but they are always neat. From this standpoint the parti-coloured rags of even the comparatively prosperous alsatian children were deplorable and the french schoolmasters suffered. We did our best to help him out with black childrenâ€™s aprons but these did not go far, beside we had to keep them for the refugees.