Katherine Rothkopf

Claribel and Etta Cone are sisters from Baltimore, really became the greatest collectors of Matisse’s work, certainly in a private collection. Etta Cone, the younger of the two sisters, first met Matisse in 1906. The previous year she had been introduced to Pablo Picasso by a family friend, Gertrude Stein, who of course went on to be a great writer. She and her brother Leo Stein had moved to Paris from the United States in the early years of the 20th century. They become very involved with local art scene, met artists and writers and musicians and their apartment on the Le Flores [Phonetic][0:00:40] in Paris become a place for great thinkers and creative types to get together on a weekly basis. When the Cone sisters would go to Paris to visit them, as they did on occasion, they would get to meet some of these people.

Gertrude Stein’s sister in law Sarah Stein introduced Etta Cone to Matisse and thus began a many decades-long relationship and friendship that proved to be important to both of them. Claribel Cone was the elder of the two sisters. She was a medical doctor. She was from the first generation female doctors in the United States, and was able to devote herself to her passion, which turned out to be collecting art. She loved painting, she loved big sexy, juicy paintings. The family money came from the textile business, their two oldest brothers Moses and Ceasar Cone provided stipend to both sisters, because they were able to have the funds to be able to travel. Starting in 1898, Etta Cone purchased her first work for the collection and stopped when she died in 1949.

And, for her, I think, you know, she just really liked Matisse as a person, she loved what he made and she was really so inspired by his creative process. And so I think for Etta, it ended up becoming how she identified herself later in her life after her sister had died. She really was very proud of her Matisse collection, proud of the relationship she had with him and with his family.

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