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The Claribel and Etta Cone Collection

Claribel and Etta Cone were two of thirteen children of Herman and Helen Cone, mid-19th-century German-Jewish immigrants who achieved success in America in the dry goods and grocery industry and whose sons developed the South’s textile industry. Prosperous and well educated, the sisters were raised in Baltimore, where Claribel (1864-1929) graduated first in her class from Woman's Medical College and Etta (1870-1949) managed the family’s domestic details. In 1898, while redecorating the family's Victorian-style parlor, Etta purchased five paintings by American Impressionist Theodore Robinson. These were the first acquisition in what would become a lifetime of collecting. Etta shared her love of art with her older sister Claribel, and the two began buying artworks in earnest in the autumn of 1905 and winter of 1906. The profits from the family's textile business provided the sisters with a lifelong allowance that insured their financial independence and funded their many purchases. In Paris, the Cone sisters met Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse and began to collect their works when modern art was still not widely known, let alone appreciated. The sisters’ adventurous spirit in collecting over the next forty years resulted in the formation of one of the most important collections of modern art in America. Eventually, the women gave about 3,000 works of art to the Baltimore Art Museum, where they may be seen today. They also donated 242 artworks to the Weatherspoon. As mentioned, the Cone family was successful in the textile business, and many of their mills were located in the South. Moses Cone, brother of Claribel and Etta, built a vacation home in North Carolina at Blowing Rock. Etta was a frequent visitor there, as were other members of the Cone family. One such member was Etta's sister-in-law, Laura Weill (Mrs. Julius) Cone. Laura Cone was a loyal alumna of UNCG. She knew that the Weatherspoon Art Gallery had been founded on campus in 1942, and knew, too, that the young organization was struggling to get established. Laura Cone asked her sister-in-law, Etta, if she would consider making a donation of art to the Weatherspoon. In her will dated May 18, 1949, Etta left to Woman’s College (as it was known then) an astonishing collection of sixty-seven Matisse prints and six Matisse bronzes as well as a large number of modern prints and drawings, including works by Pablo Picasso, Felix Vallotton, Jacques Villon, Raoul Dufy and John Graham. Due to their light sensitivity, prints from the Cone collection are exhibited at WAM on an occasional basis.

Showing 1 to 14 of 14 Records

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Title Artist Medium & Support Creation Date Accession Number
Madeleine I   Matisse, Henri   bronze  1901 (cast 1925) 
Tete de trois-quarts droite (Head turned three-quarters to right)   Matisse, Henri   drypoint on paper  1926 
La chemise Arabe (Arabian shirt)   Matisse, Henri   etching on paper  1926 
Odalisque debout au plateau de fruits (Odalisque standing with a plate of fruit)   Matisse, Henri   lithograph on paper  1924 
Nu couche a la coupe de fruits (Reclining nude with a bowl of fruit)   Matisse, Henri   Crayon transfer lithograph on paper  1926 
Liseuse au bouquet de roses (Reader with a bouquet of roses)   Matisse, Henri   lithograph on paper  1925 
Jeune fille assise au bouquet de fleurs (Young woman seated with bouquet of flowers)   Matisse, Henri   lithograph on paper  1923 
Tete d'enfant (Head of a child - Pierre Matisse)   Matisse, Henri   bronze  1904-1905 (cast 1912) 
Nu appuyé sur les mains (Nude leaning on hands)   Matisse, Henri   bronze  1905 (cast 1922) 
Nu au collier et aux cheveux longs (Nude with necklace and long hair)   Matisse, Henri   etching on paper  c. 1920 
Deux femmes en costume de ville (Two Women Dressed in Finery)   Matisse, Henri   drypoint on paper  1900-1903 
Cortot (mondain) [Cortot (worldly)]   Matisse, Henri   crayon transfer lithograph on Japanese vellum paper  1926 
Jeune fille accoudee au paravent fleuri (Young woman leaning on elbows before flowered screen)   Matisse, Henri   crayon lithograph with scraping on paper  1923 
Petit nu au polochon (Small nude with cushion)   Matisse, Henri   bronze  1918 (cast 1925) 
Showing 1 to 14 of 14 Records