An affectionate, lively examination of the reciprocal relationship between a great artist and two great art lovers.
Etta and Claribel Cone, unmarried sisters from a wealthy Baltimore family, "were born around the time of the Civil War" and became energetic, discerning collectors of modern art, particularly that of Henri Matisse. Claribel Cone was a doctor; Etta Cone managed her parents' household. Both traveled extensively in Europe and, around the turn of the 20th century, fell in with Leo and Gertrude Stein. Informed by Leo's adventuresome sense of aesthetics as well as their own daring tastes, they embraced the works of the young Matisse in 1905 and enthusiastically befriended him. Fillion sketches her characters neatly and swiftly, following the women over the next decades as they amassed what became one of the most significant American collections of modern European art. Though this is not a beginner’s text, she folds in economical explanations of early-20th-century European art, cogently contextualizing Matisse and his contemporaries. Their account is lavishly illustrated in full color by reproductions from the Cone Collection at the Baltimore Museum of Art and Matisse-inflected paintings by the author, who drew extensively on the Cone archive that is also housed at the museum.
This appealing work stands as both a portrait of two unconventional women and a celebration of the possibilities of arts patronage. (author/illustrator's note, bibliography, sources) (Biography. 10-14)