Our June 13 auction of American Art features five unique works by Jane Peterson, an American artist born in Elgin, Illinois in 1876. Born into relative poverty, she showed artistic promise from a young age and, without any formal training, was accepted into New York’s Pratt Institute at the age of 18.
After graduating from Pratt in 1901, Peterson continued her education at the Art Students League of New York, then in Europe at the London School of Art, and in Paris, where she studied under a number of artists including Jacques-Émile Blanche and Charles Cottet. More influential to her artwork than any formal training, however, was the time she spent in Gertrude Stein’s Paris salon, where she was exposed to the avant-garde work of the time.
Peterson was extremely well traveled for an American female artist at the time. She toured England and France extensively in the early 1900s and, in 1909, she ventured to Madrid to study under Joaquín Sorolla, before continuing on through Egypt and Algeria. Venice, and its colorful sun-bathed views, was a favorite subject, allowing her to develop her post-Impressionistic style of painting. She studied in Venice from 1908 to 1909 under the English artist Frank Brangwyn.
Following her husband’s death in 1929, Peterson continued to travel and to paint. She spent many 1930s and 1940s winters in Palm Beach, Florida, where her surroundings inspired studies of local flora and fauna as well as bright, sun-drenched landscapes.