The Baltimore Museum of Art’s outstanding modern art collection encompasses over 1,200 works by Henri Matisse, the most of any public institution in the world, as well as masterpieces by Pablo Picasso, Paul Cézanne, and Vincent van Gogh.
The BMA has outstanding examples by many European masters of modern art, such as Juan Gris, Joan Miró, and Piet Mondrian; Surrealists André Masson, Matta, and Yves Tanguy; Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti; and German Expressionists Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Max Pechstein.
The famed Cone Collection of modern art is the centerpiece of the BMA's expansive holdings.
A Walk Through the Cone Collection
The Cone Collection
The vision and philanthropy of Baltimore sisters Claribel and Etta Cone established the BMA’s internationally renowned collection of works by French artist Henri Matisse.
Among the highlights of the Cone Collection are more than 600 works by Matisse—considered one of the greatest artists of the 20th century—including paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, and illustrated books. To this incredible group of objects, the BMA has added more than 600 works by Matisse over the years, many of them from the artist’s family.
Amassing more than 3,000 objects, the Cone sisters developed their collection to include such masterworks as Matisse’s iconic Blue Nude (1907) and Large Reclining Nude (1935), Paul Cézanne’s Mont Sainte-Victoire Seen from the Bibémus Quarry (c. 1897), Paul Gauguin’s Vahine no te vi (Woman of the Mango) (1892), and Marie Laurencin’s A Group of Artists (1908).
The sisters also acquired paintings by Pablo Picasso, including Mother and Child (1922), and seminal prints and drawings from the artist’s early years in Barcelona to his Rose period in Paris (1905–1906.)
During their extensive travels, the Cone sisters also purchased important works by American artists; more than 1,000 prints and drawings and illustrated books; a large group of textiles; jewelry, furniture, and other decorative arts; African art, Japanese prints; and antique ivories and bronzes.
Competition among museums for The Cone Collection began as early as 1940, but Claribel insisted that it go to The Baltimore Museum of Art if “the spirit of appreciation for modern art in Baltimore became improved.” Thus achieved, the collection came to the BMA upon Etta Cone’s death in 1949, and has been on view in the BMA’s Cone Wing since 1957.
Learn more about the prominent art collectors through their letters, photographs, and other historical records available in The Claribel Cone and Etta Cone Papers.