New Englanders flock to exhibit of paintings from Cone Collection

October 15, 1991|By Eric Siegel

While Marylanders have begun marveling at the Monets on display at the Baltimore Museum of Art, New Englanders have been equally captivated by Matisses, Picassos and Cezannes drawn from the BMA's Cone Collection now being shown at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts.

"It's been extremely well received," Robert Mitchell, director of public relations and marketing at the Museum of Fine Arts, said of the exhibit. "We're very, very pleased with it."

nTC The BMA has temporarily swapped 50 works of 20th century art from its celebrated Cone Collection for 32 works by French impressionist Claude Monet from the Museum of Fine Arts. The Monet show opened to the public Sunday, with all available 2,400 timed entry tickets at $6.50 apiece snapped up. The Museum of Fine Arts' Cone show opened Oct. 2.

On the Sunday after the Boston exhibit opened, "more than 4,000 people" visited the museum's main Gund Gallery to view the collection, Mr. Mitchell said. "That's probably twice as many as we had at the same time period" at the previous "Pleasures of Paris" show, which closed Sept. 1, he said.

More complete attendance figures were not immediately available.

Unlike the BMA, which instituted timed tickets for the first time for the Monet show, the Boston museum is not requiring a special ticket to see the Cone show. Regular admission is $6 for adults, compared with $3.50 for the BMA.

The Cone works have also been attracting widespread media attention throughout New England. More than 65 media representatives attended a Sept. 30 press preview, double the number that turned up for the "Pleasures of Paris" preview, which featured works by Picasso and Renoir as well as leading impressionists.

Critics have raved about the collection.

"The 50 works . . . are stunning," wrote Mary Sherman in the Boston Herald. Noting that a number of institutions around the country had been interested in acquiring the works of Claribel and Etta Cone, she added, "Matisse's 'Blue Nude' alone is worth all the museums' courting of the Cones."

The Boston Globe's Christine Temin opined that the collection "contains some of the most ravishingly lovely art of the 20th century." She observed that "Boston collections are impoverished as far as early 20th century school of Paris painting goes," adding, that "while it's wonderful to have the Cone works here for just a few months, their splendor also reinforces the sense that Boston missed out."

Ms. Temin said that the MFA "created a context for the show by opening it with photographs of the Cones' art-filled apartment" and noted that some of the walls of the gallery were painted a dark green to "create a domestic ambience" for the works.

The BMA's Monet show and the Museum of Fine Arts' Cone exhibit both run through Jan. 19.

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