Monday, November 20, 2017

Jane Peterson at Home and Abroad

Annamaria on Monday

What you see above is the cover of the catalogue to a fabulous exhibition--the first one-woman retrospective of Jane Peterson's work in forty-five years. You can see it at the Mattatuck Museum in Waterbury, Connecticut.  I would not have been part of this endeavor if I did not have the huge good fortune of being part of this MIE blog team.

You see, in April of 2015 I posted about one of my favorite artists.  I love her work, and I so admire the adventurous, independent woman she was. David and I discovered Jane Peterson in our search for original American Impressionist art that we could afford. Highly appreciated in the first part of her career, Peterson’s pictures were later eclipsed, with the dawn of abstract art.  While men of her generation—like Childe Hasam, Maurice Prendergast, and William Merrit Chase—remained in the public eye, Jane was one of those massively under appreciated painters who possessed the flaw of being female in a man's world.

And I don't mean that Peterson was just no longer famous.  She has been almost completely unknown.  Consider this: About three years ago, when the Director of the Mattatuck Museum came across two Petersons in an obscure collection in Maine, he--an art expert--had never heard of her.  He emailed his colleague Cynthia Roznoy, a PhD art historian for information about Jane.  She also drew a blank. Reasearch began. And, mirabile dictu, my blog post came up in the ensuing internet search. When Cynthia contacted me, I was thrilled to hear that Peterson might be finally getting the new recognition she deserved. I became an enthusiast for the idea of a retrospective.  Once work on the show was well underway, Roznoy met with a group of us collectors and we became charter members of the New York Chapter of the Jane Peterson Fan Club!

Cynthia Roznoy, with a great deal of passionate work—new scholarship, tracking down works, negotiating loans from collectors and museums, inspiring donors to support the exhibition—brought the project to fabulous fruition. Here are some images from the special preview last Thursday evening. 

Cynthia Roznoy introduced Peterson with this beautiful portrait, which
she described as so like Jane--perched on a chair, with her hat on and
her paint box in her lap, ready to get outside and get to work.

Evening, Holland Fishermen, Volendam, 1907*
The lead off picture in the show was this one, the earliest of her paintings,
a proud moment for me, since it is one of mine and David's.

Here, also ours, is the evidence of Peterson's adventurous spirit.  She traveled alone to Turkey and North Africa in the mid-1920s to paint the exotic scenes she craved.

Street in Old Constantinople, c. 1924*

Here I am with my friend Sid Hauser, fellow founding member of the NYC
Chapter of the fan club. That's his Venetian scene between us, mine and David's on either side.
And here are some better images of our works: 

Venetian Lagoon, c. 1920*

Clock Tower, c. 1920*

*Photographs, Josh Nefsky

In exhibitions like the one just opened at the Mattatuck, I like to fantasize about which works I would take home if I could.  Here (with apologies for my lopsided photography) are the ones I would have spirited away:

This first one because it is of my favorite ghost of New York, as well as being beautiful:

1918 Victory Arch at Madison Square, 1919
Herschel & Adler Galleries, New York
 And this one because it is so gorgeously chic with its dark background, especially in its perfect tarnished silver frame.

Still Life with Flowers (Tulips), c.1925-30
Eskenazi Museum of Art,
Indiana University


  1. What beautiful artwork, Annamaria. And I had never heard of her, either. I'm not surprised you treasure them.

    1. Someday, Zoe, I hope you will come see them in person--when we will both be in NYC on the same day!

  2. There are two amazing women (make that people) represented in this post, and Jane Peterson is the only one of the two that I don't call Sis.

    1. Why thank you, my brother! I am a member of a remarkable tribe.