Jane Peterson has an individual style, with bold color combinations and unique designs, and her canvases intermingle Fauvist and Impressionist tendencies with academic drawing.
Peterson was named Jennie Christine upon her birth in Elgin, Illinois, November 28, 1876. Growing up in poverty, she was the daughter of Julius and Kate Peterson. From her earliest years, Peterson drew from nature and took art lessons at the Elgin Public Schools. In 1895, she went to New York City to study art at Pratt Institute. Before graduating in 1901, Peterson taught painting and became a popular teacher at Pratt.
She then became the Drawing Supervisor of Brooklyn Public Schools and studied oil painting with Frank Vincent Dumond, as she saved money to travel abroad to study painting with Frank Brangwyn in London, Jacques Emile Blanche and Andre Hote in Paris and the eminent Joaquin Sorolla in Madrid.
Internationally known writer and astronomer Percival Lowell exhibited Peterson’s work in Paris and secured her first one-woman exhibition in Boston which led to an near sell-out exhibition in New York City. By 1912, Peterson had many rich patrons and she taught watercolor painting at the Art Students League in New York City and at the Maryland Institute in Baltimore.
Traveling and painting with Sorolla, Louis Comfort Tiffany, John Singer Sargent, Childe Hassam and Maurice Prendergast, Peterson was in an influential art entourage and made it evident she could paint with the best of the male painters.
During World War I, Peterson painted war-oriented subjects that were exhibited and sold (or donated) to promote Liberty Loans and the American Red Cross efforts. In 1924, Peterson’s Toilette received rave reviews at the New York Society of Painters and a one-woman show on Fifth Avenue sold-out. By this time, she had won numerous awards, was a Fellow at the National Academy of Design and a member of many art clubs including the American Watercolor Society, Audubon Artists, Pen & Brush Club, and the National Association of Women Artists.
In 1925, The New York Times characterized Peterson as “one of the foremost women painters in New York.” Known for her colorful, post-impressionist paintings of Gloucester streets and harbor on Cape Ann; palm trees along the Florida coast; street scenes in Paris, Istanbul and New York City; boating views in Venice, Italy and elsewhere, Peterson also flamboyantly executed floral subjects and dynamic genre-like-portraits. She was given over 80 one-woman exhibitions and was recognized as a uniquely talented painter of distinction before her death on August 14, 1965.
Biography, J.J. Joseph, Introd. P.J. Pierce, Jane Peterson, American Painter, 1982.