Sunday, November 13, 2011

Claribel Cone (November 14, 1864)

Sisters Claribel and Etta Cone of Baltimore were friends of Gertrude Stein -- the three are shown in the photo at right. The Cones had an independent income from a family business, but Claribel worked as a medical doctor and successful researcher. According to the Jewish Women's Archive:
First in her class [at the Women’s Medical College of Baltimore], she graduated in 1890 and undertook postgraduate study at Johns Hopkins University, the University of Pennsylvania, and the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania. She won one of five internships at the Philadelphia Blockley Hospital for the Insane. On returning to Baltimore in 1893, Claribel Cone announced that she preferred medical research and teaching to clinical practice. She secured a position as a lecturer in hygiene at the Women’s Medical College of Baltimore. Appointed full professor in 1895, she taught pathology at the college until it closed in 1910.
From Gertrude and her brother Leo, Claribel and Etta Cone learned about the breathtaking modern art that was being produced in Paris a century ago, and became splendid collectors with amazing taste. They were quite friendly with some of the artists of the era as well, especially Matisse. Their collections are now in the Baltimore Museum of Art.

The Cone sisters' lives and accomplishments as collectors are documented in Mary Gabriel's book The Art of Acquiring: A Portrait of Etta and Claribel Cone. Gabriel emphasizes their originality and imaginative recognition of the great artists of their time, and makes the case that being women caused them to be overlooked by history (as did Gertrude Stein's dismissal of them in The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas).

The same article mentions "Though described by a nephew as a “freethinker,” Claribel Cone was quite conscious of her identity as a Jew."

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