Installation view, A Modern Influence: Henri Matisse, Etta Cone, and Baltimore

A Modern Influence: Henri Matisse, Etta Cone, and Baltimore


This exhibition explores the 43-year friendship between artist Henri Matisse (1869-1954) and Baltimore collector Etta Cone (1870-1949). More than 160 paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings, and illustrated books provide new insights into the formation of the renowned Cone Collection, one of the greatest collections of modern art in the United States.

Etta, with her older sister Claribel (1864-1929), acquired more than 700 works by Matisse between 1906 and 1949 and bequeathed the majority of them to the BMA as part of a gift of 3,000 objects.  Etta’s dedication and curiosity ultimately lent the Cone collection its characteristic depth and breadth. After accepting Etta’s invitation to visit her in Baltimore in 1930, Matisse realized he could have a major U.S. presence, and began creating and offering Etta specific works of art with the Cone collection in mind.” Among these works are masterpieces such as The Yellow Dress (1929-31) and Large Reclining Nude (1935), rarely shown drawings, and the preliminary studies for his first illustrated book, Poems by Stéphane Mallarmé (1932). The works in the exhibition are generally arranged by acquisition date, demonstrating Cone’s increasingly discerning eye for Matisse’s work throughout their long partnership. A fully illustrated catalog accompanying the exhibition contains new scholarship on the formal, technical, and social aspects of the decades-long working partnership between artist and patron.

This exhibition is generously supported by The Pierre and Tana Matisse Foundation, the Richard C. von Hess Foundation, and The Alvin and Fanny B. Thalheimer Exhibition Endowment Fund. Additional support is provided by Laura Freedlander and the Robert Lehman Foundation.

This exhibition is co-curated by Katy Rothkopf, The Anne and Ben Cone Memorial Director of The Ruth R. Marder Center for Matisse Studies and Senior Curator of European Painting and Sculpture at the BMA, and Leslie Cozzi, BMA Associate Curator of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs.