Etta Cone collected her first Matisse and Picasso paintings during a trip to Paris in 1905. The Matisse shown above was one of many in her immense lifetime collection, now on display at the Baltimore Museum of Art. At the time of the first modern art purchase, she was under the influence of the Stein family: Gertrude and her brothers Leo and Michael, and Michael's wife Sally, all of them intense art patrons and collectors. She had an intense friendship with Gertrude Stein (who knows how intense?) which was excised from history later, probably to please Alice B. Toklas.
Throughout her life, Etta Cone and her sister Claribel Cone (whom I wrote about earlier this month) continued to create an amazing collection of modern art, though she handled it in a very modest and private way. In The Art of Acquiring: A Portrait of Etta and Claribel Cone, author Mary Gabriel documents the somewhat unequal relationship of the two Cone sisters, who are now recognized as visionaries in the early appreciation of modern art.
Though not religious, and not active in Baltimore's Jewish community, Etta had some vague Jewish identity, and once wrote to Gertrude Stein: “Happy New Year to you, you heathen." *