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