Shalom Life | April 17, 2014

Exhibition Displays Cone Sisters’ Extensive French Art Collection

The Jewish Museum in New York exhibiting Picasso, Matisse, van Gogh and other modern French painters.

By: Sarah Bauder

Published: July 5th, 2011 in Culture » Art » News

Exhibition Displays Cone Sisters’ Extensive French Art Collection
Claribel (1864-1929) and Etta Cone (1870-1949) were known for amassing one of the most extensive modern French art collections in America. The Baltimore socialite siblings also had a social circle that included Gertrude Stein and her companion Alice B. Toklas, Henri Matisse, and Pablo Picasso.

The Jewish Museum in New York City currently has an exhibition of a minute portion of the sisters’ collection, called Collecting Matisse and Modern Masters: The Cone Sisters of Baltimore. The exhibit features over 50 works by Picasso, Matisse, van Gogh, Gauguin, and Renoir amongst many others. In addition to paintings, sculpture and sketches from the masters, the exhibition also includes an array of textiles, decorative art, and photographs from the Cones extensive travels throughout Europe, Asia, and Africa.

“The Cones had a unique, consistent eye, and a particular taste. They didn't just buy whatever they came across." said Karen Levitov, associate curator at The Jewish Museum.

Upon her death in 1949, Etta bequeathed the entire collection of approximately 3000 objects, to the Baltimore Museum of Art-which has loaned pieces for the current exhibit.

Born to German-Jewish immigrants, the sisters comprised two of twelve siblings. Defying convention of the Gilded Age, Claribel became a physician and pathologist. Neither Claribel nor Etta married, and lived in adjoining apartments in Baltimore for 50 years.

The sisters’ nephew Edward T. Cone once described the Marlborough Apartments as “…really a collection of collections, and in the Marlborough one could see them all—if one had weeks to spend. There were pictures, to be sure: oils, watercolors, drawings, prints. There were sculptures: marble, bronze, wood. There were rugs and furniture. There were laces, shawls, textiles and fabrics of all kinds. There were antique jewelry and objets d’art. And all these were used, they were enjoyed, they were lived with.”

Collecting Matisse and Modern Masters: The Cone Sisters of Baltimore runs until September 25, 2011 at The Jewish Museum, 1109 5th Ave at 92nd St, New York NY. It then travels to the Vancouver Art gallery from June 2 to September 23, 2012.

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