At the turn of the twentieth century, sisters Etta and Claribel Cone began to amass a collection of 3,000 objects, forming one of the world's greatest holdings of early European Modernism. This exhibition provides a rare opportunity to view nearly 50 exceptional works from their stunning collection, which was donated to The Baltimore Museum of Art in 1949. The highlight of the Cone Collection is a group of works by Henri Matisse, making The Baltimore Museum of Art's Matisse collection the largest and most comprehensive in the world.
Etta and Claribel Cone were ardent and early patrons of the French avant–garde, meeting Matisse, Pablo Picasso and other artists during their trips to Paris in the first decade of the twentieth century. The Cones developed a close relationship with Matisse, purchasing their first works by the artist directly from his studio and corresponding with him for more than four decades. Collecting Matisse and Modern Masters includes 27 signature works by Matisse, providing a stunning overview of his remarkable career. Featured are early canvases, including Yellow Pottery from Provence–the first Matisse painting to enter the sisters' collection–and examples of his landscapes from the 1920s. Around the same time, Matisse began to pose exotically dressed female models in lavish interiors decorated with vibrantly coloured and textured fabrics from North Africa and the Middle East. In works such as Standing Odalisque Reflected in a Mirrorand Interior, Flowers and Parakeets, Matisse celebrated pattern, form and colour.
One of the artist's most famous paintings, Large Reclining Nude, displays the daring scale, simplified forms, and bold, flat planes of colour with which the artist treated the female form in the 1930s. As the exhibition reveals, this painting was a work in progress for over six months, during which time Matisse discussed its composition with Etta Cone; she acquired the work the following year. The stunning selection of Matisse's sculpture, including the monumental Large Seated Nude, as well as a superb range of drawings and paintings, provide fascinating insight into his creative process.
The beautiful group of works by Matisse is complemented by other important paintings, drawings and sculpture from the Cone Collection, including a haunting Blue Period painting by Picasso titled Woman with Bangs, along with a selection of drawings from 1906, a pivotal moment in the artist’s career. In addition, the exhibition features well–known paintings from the mid–to late–nineteenth century by Gustave Courbet, Pierre–Auguste Renoir, Paul Gauguin and Vincent van Gogh, among others. Also included is a selection of diaries and account books kept by Etta Cone and correspondence between the sisters and Henri Matisse. This material underscores the degree to which art was an integral part of the Cone sisters' lives and the depth of their relationships with many of the artists they supported, and illuminates the fascinating experiences of these passionate and visionary art patrons and collectors.
This exhibition is organized by The Baltimore Museum of Art, The Jewish Museum, New York, and the Vancouver Art Gallery.
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