Jane Peterson 1876-1965

Gloucester Harbor

  • 30 x 40 inches (76.2 x 101.6 cm)
  • Oil on canvas
  • Signed lower right: Jane Peterson

Why We Love It

Jane Peterson was one of the most remarkable and unique women artists of her time. One of her favorite locations to paint was the bustling fishing port of Gloucester, Massachusetts, and this colorful harbor scene is a marvelous example from this important body of work. This striking piece is typical of her individual style, as seen in the bold confident brushwork and high-key saturated color palette.

The Value

Peterson’s Gloucester scenes are by far her most collectible paintings.  The size, quality, and condition of this work make it a tour de force.  The fact that it descended from Peterson’s estate to important private collections makes it a fresh and exciting addition to the market.

Artist Background

1876: Born in Elgin, Illinois; 1895: Moved to New York to study painting at the Pratt Institute; 1901: Continued her studies with Frank Vincent Dumond at the Art Students League; worked as Drawing Supervisor of Public Schools in Brooklyn; 1904: Worked as a school teacher in Elmira, New York; 1905: Employed as Drawing Supervisor of Public Schools in Boston, Massachusetts; 1906: Worked as an art teacher at the Maryland Institute School of Art and Design; 1908: Moved to Paris and studied with Jacque-Emile Blanche, Charles Cottet, and Claudio Castelucho; lived in Montparnasse and attended Gertrude Stein’s salons, with artists such as Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Georges Braque, André Derain, and Henri Rousseau; 1909: First solo American exhibition at the Botolph Club in Boston; travelled to Madrid and studied with Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida; 1910: Took a painting trip through Egypt and Algiers; 1913: Began teaching watercolor at the Art Students League; 1916: Set off on a transcontinental painting expedition through Alaska and Canada; visited California and painted in Los Angeles and San Diego; 1917: Painted military portraits and patriotic scenes during World War I; 1924: Spent six months painting in Turkey; 1925: Married Moritz Bernard Phillip; 1938: Studied with the Modernist André Lhote in Paris; named most outstanding individual of the year by the American Historical Society for artistic achievement; 1945: Biography published in Prominent Women of New York; 1960: Exhibited at the North Shore Show in Gloucester, Massachusetts; moved to Kansas with niece; 1965: Died at age 88.

Jane Peterson was born in Elgin, Illinois, and received her initial artistic training in the Elgin public schools. Her parents recognized her innate talent and encouraged her to continue her studies away from home, and in the autumn of 1895 Peterson enrolled at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, where she studied with Arthur Wesley Dow. She graduated from Pratt in 1901.

After spending several years as a drawing instructor at various schools and academies from Elmira, New York, to Baltimore, Maryland, Peterson travelled to Europe in 1907. She remained there for several years, studying under Frank Brangwyn in London and Venice, Jacques-Émile Blanche in Paris, and Joaquìn Sorolla y Bastida in Madrid. In particular, Sorolla had a profound influence on Peterson’s style, and under his guidance, her work took on a new brilliance of color and spontaneity of execution.

Peterson returned to America in 1910 with a new artistic direction, and in December of that same year she triumphantly opened a solo exhibition of eighty-seven paintings at the Art Institute of Chicago. The following years were rich and full of travel. Peterson was in Paris in 1912; in 1915, she visited the American Southwest; in 1916, she accompanied Louis Comfort Tiffany on a transcontinental painting expedition to the Canadian Northwest and Alaska. Also in 1916, Peterson visited the art colonies of New England—Gloucester, Newport, Provincetown, and Ogunquit.

When the turmoil of World War I removed any possibility of her customary travel in Europe, Peterson turned her joyous and celebratory eye to the summer seaside pleasures of New England. The bustling fishing port of Gloucester, Massachusetts, was one of her favorite domestic haunts. This colorful harbor scene is a marvelous example from this important body of work, and it demonstrates several key characteristics of her unique style, such as her bold and confident brushwork, and her high-key saturated color palette.