Last Chance: Stunning Exhibition “Collecting Matisse” at VAG through Sept. 30

Henri Matisse, Striped Robe, Fruit, and Anemones, 1940, oil on canvas, The Baltimore Museum of Art

Where would we be without patrons of the arts? How do I get one in 2012?

The stunning exhibition Collecting Matisse and Modern Masters: The Cone Sisters of Baltimore drives home the importance of patrons in early European Modernism. It’s also a darn fine exhibition: the kind that makes you shrug at another sunny September day, head inside, and ask, “Could nature ever beat that?” These works are showing at the Vancouver Art Gallery through September 30.

The patrons here are Etta and Claribel Cone – sisters from Baltimore who began to amass a 3,000-works collection of art by the French avant-garde, including Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Gustave Courbet, Pierre–Auguste Renoir, Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh and more. Not only did they purchase these artists’ works, they met and corresponded with some. They also hung out with Paris expats like Gertrude Stein. Photos and diaries are a juicy part of the exhibition.

Get a sneak peek after the jump.

Henri Matisse,Large Reclining Nude, 1935, oil on canvas, The Baltimore Museum of Art: The Cone Collection, formed by Dr. Claribel Cone and Miss Etta Cone of Baltimore, Maryland, BMA

In the first decade of the twentieth century, Etta and Claribel took many trips to Paris, meeting Matisse and keeping in touch for over four decades. Collecting Matisse and Modern Masters includes 27 signature works by Matisse, providing a rare overview of his career.

The Cone sisters’ collection was donated to The Baltimore Museum of Art in 1949. The group of works by Henri Matisse is the largest and most comprehensive stash by the artist found in any collection in the world.

One of the Matisse’s most famous paintings, Large Reclining Nude (above), displaying “daring scale, simplified forms, and bold, flat planes of colour with which the artist treated the female form in the 1930s,” was in progress for over six months.  During that time Matisse discussed its composition with Etta Cone; she acquired the work the following year.

Vincent Van Gogh, Landscape with Figures, 1889, oil on canvas, The Baltimore Museum of Art: The Cone Collection, formed by Dr. Claribel Cone and Miss Etta Cone of Baltimore, Maryland, BMA

Henri Matisse, Resting Woman Wearing Tiara, 1936, pen and black ink, The Baltimore Museum of Art: The Cone Collection, formed by Dr. Claribel Cone and Miss Etta Cone of Baltimore, Maryland, BMA

Claribel Cone, Gertrude Stein and Etta Cone, Settignano, Italy, June 26, 1903. Dr. Claribel and Miss Etta Cone Papers, Archives and Manuscripts Collections, The Baltimore Museum of Art.

Collecting Matisse and Modern Masters: The Cone Sisters of Baltimore is showing through Sept. 30. VAG tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for students and seniors and $6.25 for kids ages 5-12.

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