Monday, April 20, 2015

Jane Peterson: Artist, Adventuress




My husband David and I fell in love with American Impressionist art.  It became a great passion for David.  He studied it by reading, poring over catalogues, visiting museums, attending auction exhibitions and sales.  After a few years, he could, from thirty paces away, identify almost any American painter who worked between 1870 and 1945, and he could tell you if what he was looking at was typical of the artist’s work.  Because David has the soul of a collector, he could also tell you what the work would likely sell for at auction.

In the Nineties, we began to acquire art.  By then, most paintings of American Impressionist men were beyond our means.  Women’s work was, if you asked us, greatly undervalued.   David began to look for women artists whose work appealed to his discerning eye.  We bought paintings by men if they were priced right, but there were many more quite wonderful ones by women that we wanted and could afford.



Jane Peterson soon became our favorite.

Her art is wonderful.  But there was something else about her that greatly appealed.   Her subject matter.  She had lived a life of independence and adventure.  My kind of woman.  David’s too, evidently, since he had fallen in love with me.



Jennie Christine Peterson was born in Elgin, Illinois in 1876 of an employee of the Eglin Watch Company and his homemaker wife.  She had a public education and changed he name to Jane when she finished high school.  She had had no art instruction as a child but worked from intuition and taught herself enough to gain admission to Pratt Institute in Brooklyn.  Her mother gave her $300 and off she went.

When she graduated Pratt in 1901, she studied for a while at the New York Art Students League.  Soon her wanderlust took her to Europe.  There she traveled with other artists and developed her style by studying her contemporaries and the masters.



Eventually, she ranged far and wide.  In 1916 she joined Louis Comfort Tiffany on a US transcontinental trip in his private railway car.  After that, she took her paints and her easel—a woman alone—from Maine to Florida, all over Europe, to Turkey, and across North Africa, making beautiful works wherever she went.  She became friends with Gertrude Stein, met Matisse, and Picasso, and had over eighty one-woman shows in her lifetime.  When she was fifty she married a corporate lawyer, M. Bernard Philipp, who was twenty-five years older than she.  They were married about ten years when he died.  Four years later, she tried marriage again, but in less than year, she and her second husband separated and later divorced.  After that failed marriage, in her mid-sixties, she took to the road again.



In 1938, the American Historical Society name her the “most outstanding individual of the year,” only the second woman ever so honored. 

Today her paintings are in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Hirshorn.

The photos above are typical of Peterson’s work.

With apologies to Jane for my poor photography, these below are the ones in David’s and my collection.  I treasure them.

"Evening, Holland Fishermen, Valendam" - Oil

"Venetian Lagoon" - Oil

"The Town Square, Afternoon" - Watercolor


"Street in Old Constantinople" -  Watercolor
David was fond of telling people how, on a trip to Istanbul, we stayed in a hotel on this
very street, and didn't realize it until we returned home and looked at picture with new eyes.


"The Clock Tower, Venice"--Oil
David gave me this one for my 51st birthday



Annamaria - Monday


20 comments:

  1. Gorgeous paintings - and a truly lovely mini-autobiography. . . someday you will write a longer and bigger one... tjstraw in Manhattan

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  2. Thelma, As you know, every once in while I sneak in something personal, but I doubt I will ever write my memoirs. Maybe when I am so old I get really dotty.

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  3. Rethink it, AA, as many people would find your autobio not only of interest but helpful in their own lives. tjs

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  4. Lovely paintings, AmA!

    Re: autobiograpy... from a slice of gray matter, I once read that the best autobiographies are written by brutally honest narcissists. Makes sense, although I can't speak from experience, as I've never had much interest in reading autobiographies. Alas, so many loves, so few grains of sand...

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    1. Thanks EvKa. If I am a brutally honest narcissist, I would't want anyone to know it. I have encountered only a few memoirs that I could read all the way through. And truly enjoyed only the ones by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

      I do very much like to see self-portraits by painters though. They fascinate me.

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  5. Some of the world's best autobios are written as if they were fiction...!!! Don't you sneak in little true pieces from your own life in your writing????? tjs in Manhattan

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    1. Thelma, I am sure the stories come out of my experience, but it sneaks in by itself. Lots of times I don't even know it's happening.

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    1. Thanks, Stan and you have seen them in person, so you know how truly lovely the pictures are.

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  7. And I've seen you in lovely person. Do the autobiography and I'll do the title. :)

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    1. Okay, Jeff, I'll bite. You write the title, and I'll see if I want to write that book. Stan gave a description of me in these precincts that was not entirely complimentary I think, but is apt: "she has the energy level of a proton in a particle accelerator." Is my brutally honest narcissist showing?

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    2. Stan's only particlely correct.

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  8. Your posts consistently take me on a voyage. I really love the women impressionists, and your paintings are beautiful.

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    1. Thank you, Lil. I find Jane Peterson so inspiring: She went alone in the 19-teens and twenties, painting in, in those days, very remote and little known places. And her pictures take us to those places in those times.

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  9. There is always something very tranquil about impressionist art. These are beautiful, you are very fortunate to have them on your wall.

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    1. Caro, when we visit the Strand together in the fall, you are coming here to dinner, so you will get a chance to see them. I like a great deal of contemporary art, but in my home, I prefer the tranquility of this period. One does not tire of it. At least I don't.

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  10. Although, Jeff, Stan DID get the particle right, as AmA, just like a proton, is such a positive character...

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  11. These are beautiful, Annamaria! Thank you for sharing her work with us!

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  12. I love these Gorgeous paintings -as I do the French impressionists, thank you for allowing me to see them .

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  13. Lisa and Alan, you are VERY welcome. And thank you. I think Peterson is under appreciated am glad to win her some new admirers.

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