Baltimore's fabled Cone sisters, Claribel and Etta, were inveterate collectors who over the course of nearly half a century amassed one of the most important collections of Matisses in the world.
How did they do it? Simple: They shopped till they dropped!
Or: Practice, practice, practice.
Remember, the fine arts weren't the only arena for the Cones' passionate buying.
In addition to the 161 paintings, 79 sculptures, 685 prints and 398 drawings they acquired, they also bought illustrated books, fine furniture, skeleton keys, mortars and pestles, Turkish towels, postcards, travel guides, costume jewelry, fabrics, curios and antique lace.
Most of these collections have long been overshadowed by the magnificent early modernist masterworks for which the Cones are famous.
But now, for the first time since they were bequeathed to the Baltimore Museum of Art more than 50 years ago, the Cone sisters' fabulous collection of fine lace collars, cuffs, scarves, fan leaves, borders, altar cloths and furnishing laces are the subject of a major exhibition, The Legacy of Lace: Selections From the Cone Collection.
Among the 47 rare and beautiful textiles spanning five centuries of lace-making are a black Chantilly fan leaf, a Milanese bobbin lace depicting the vision of St. Paul, rare Belgian needle laces and a 17th-century French lace that dates to the court of Louis XIV.
Only a handful of these pieces have ever been exhibited, so this show will be a revelation to lace makers and historians as well as to the general public. A com- panion exhibition, Filigreed Spaces: Textile Installations by Piper Shepard, is a thoughtful counterpoint to this landmark exhibition.
Both shows run through Sept. 18. The museum is at 10 Art Museum Drive, at 31st and Charles streets. Hours are 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday-Friday; 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. Admission is $7 adults, $5 students and seniors. Call 410-396-7100, or visit www.artbma.org.
For more art events, see Page 35.