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Jane Peterson (1876-1965)

Jane Peterson’s paintings cannot be categorized into any specific art movement. Her artworks blend several prominent styles and art movements of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Her loose brushwork and vivid colors she adopted during her period in Paris. While in the French capital, Peterson experimented with the techniques and colors of the Impressionists, Post-Impressionists, Nabis & the Fauves.

Humble Beginnings and a Promising Start

Jane Peterson was born in Elgin, Illinois as Jennie Christine Peterson. However she officially changed her name to Jane in 1909. Peterson grew up in a humble household. However, her family encouraged her to pursue her artistic talent.

Incredibly, the prestigious Pratt Institue in New York accepted Peterson as a student & the family struggled but collected the money for her enrollment. After graduation, Peterson continued her art studies and became an art teacher herself.

Travels to Europe & Paris – Studying under the Revolutionary Masters

Like others, Jane Peterson made her way to Europe to to continue her artistic education. Peterson studied under Brangwyn in Venice and London, Joaquin Sorolla in Madrid, and Jacques Blanche and Andre L’Hote in Paris.

While studying in Paris, Peterson joined the inner-circle of Gertrude and Leo Stein. She attended the Steins’ regular intellectual gatherings where the guests also included Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse.

Jane Peterson painting of a woman and a basket of fruit
Jane Peterson painting

Jane Peterson Absorbs all the Different Emerging Art Movements

In Paris, Peterson also saw the beginnings of the emerging avant garde art movements. This included Impressionism, Fauvism, Expressionism and the beginnings of Cubism. She used her creative talent to assimilate these new techniques and styles . Her paintings show elements of various movements, including Impressionism, Neoimpressionism, Post-Impressionism,Nabi & Fauvism.

Jane Peterson painting
Jane Peterson painting – Impressionism

Peterson’s incredible success back in America

By 1912, Jane Peterson had many art patrons under her wing. She continued to teach art at both the Art Students League in New York and the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore.

During this period she was active in many clubs and societies, such as the American Watercolor Society; National Association of Women Artists; Pen and Brush Club; Connecticut Academy of Fine Arts; and the Francaise de Artists in Paris. Peterson also joined the influential group of American painters, including John Singer Sargent, Childe Hassam, and Maurice Prendergast. In 1925, The New York Times named Jane Peterson as one of the notable women painters in New York.

Jane Peterson Painting - Fauvism Art
Jane Peterson Painting – Fauvism art

During her lifetime she had exhibitions all across America and throughout Europe. Peterson received prizes in Paris (1915); Connecticut Academy of Fine Arts (1916 & 1917) and at the national Association of Women Artists (1919 & 1927).  In addition to general exhibitions, Peterson Jane Peterson also had over 80 solo exhibitions before her death on August 14, 1965.

Peterson – A Strong Independent Female Artist who Defied Social Norms

In 1938 the American Historical Society named Jane Peterson the ‘most outstanding individual of the year’. She was the second woman ever to receive this honor. She was a remarkable woman. Peterson was independent, following her dream to paint, something very uncommon for women during those times.

Jane Peterson Painting
Jane Peterson Painting

Where to View Peterson’s Bold and Colorful Paintings:

Today, you can find Peterson’s beautiful paintings in many art museums scattered across the United States. Below is only a small list of museums with permanent collections of her incredible artwork:

  • Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York
  • Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C.
  • San Diego Museum of Art
  • Brooklyn Museum
  • Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

For more articles about fascinating impressionism & post-impressionism female artists who defied social norms to pursue their art, see below: