Collecting Matisse and Modern Masters
The Cone Sisters of Baltimore
By Karen Levitov
Jewish Museum, Hardcover, 9780300170214, 80pp.
Publication Date: May 1, 2011
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In the early 20th century, Baltimore sisters Claribel and Etta Cone first visited the Paris studios of Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso and began assembling one of the world's most important art collections. Their passion for Matisse's art, in particular, led them to acquire 500 of his works—one of the most extraordinary Matisse collections in the world. Supported by the Cone family textile business, the sisters made frequent trips to Europe to purchase art, and their close friendship with Gertrude and Leo Stein led to a wide circle of influential acquaintances. They eventually amassed a collection of 3,000 works, which were donated to The Baltimore Museum of Art after Etta Cone's death in 1949.
This publication gathers 47 artworks from the internationally renowned Cone Collection including paintings, sculptures, and works on paper by Matisse, Picasso, Gauguin, Renoir, van Gogh, Courbet, and other masters. Karen Levitov's essay recounts the story of the Cone sisters, their tastes, and their remarkable collection. Levitov also discusses what distinguished their connoisseurship from their contemporaries.
Karen Levitov is associate curator at The Jewish Museum and author of Camille Pissarro: Impressions of City and Country (Yale).
“The story of how two Baltimore textile heiresses, Etta and Claribel Cone, went to Paris at the tune-of the century and amassed artworks by Matisse, Picasso, Gauguin, etc. is one of the most charming of modern collecting history.” —New Jersey Star Ledger