The Sight & Insight Podcast

Episode 30 Jane Peterson

November 20, 2018

Episode 30 Jane Peterson: Artist Extraordinaire

“Sex has nothing to do with it at all. Art is one activity where being a woman is neither a help nor a hindrance. Even a woman’s intuition means nothing when she is facing a canvas.” - Jane Peterson

[quoted in J. Jonathan Joseph, Jane Peterson, An American Artist (Boston, 1981): 43. This is the primary source for biographical information on Peterson. For information on The Group see Jarzombek, “Mary Bradish Titcomb and her Contemporaries” in Mary Bradish Titcomb (1858-1927) / Fenway Studios (Boston: Vose, 1998).


Jane Peterson, Gloucester Harbor, oc, 30 x 40, private collection (Sold at auction for $520k in 2005, after estimated between $250,000-$350,000)

Artist Jane Peterson (1876-1965) was active in Massachusetts, New York, Kansas, IL., as well as Europe and North Africa. Born Jennie Christine in Elgin, IL., she changed her name (at the age of 33) to Jane Peterson; a name that now resonates through the art world as a talented and skillful artist of the finest caliber. She studied with some of the best-known instructors of the day, including Arthur Wesley Dow and Frank Vincent DuMond in New York, as well as with Frank Brangwyn in Venice and England. In addition, she learned from the master himself, Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida in Madrid. From Sorolla she learned to lighten her palette and heighten her chroma, while also painting rapidly to capture the fleeting effect of light. 

Like many women artists, Peterson went into teaching, becoming the Drawing Supervisor of the Brooklyn Public Schools. She continued to travel and paint as circumstances allowed, frequently working in North African countries such as Algeria and Egypt, until the outbreak of World War I. However, as soon as an Armistice was declared she resumed her travels, sojourning even farther afield in 1924, when she spent six months in Turkey, exploring Constantinople (Istanbul) and Broosa (Bursa), a daring and audacious undertaking for a woman voyaging alone.


Jane Peterson, Afternoon at the Market, c. 1910, oc, 24 x 30, private collection

Peterson was adept in oil painting, watercolor and gouache, which - being a quick drying medium - was highly practical for a traveling artist. 

She has been called an Impressionist, and an Expressionist as well as an Abstractionist, but Jane Peterson is not one to have her talents curtailed by a pigeonhole. She painted what she wanted, where she wanted and, in the recent Strokes of Genius: Women Artists of New England exhibition at the Rockport Art Association and Museum, it was obvious she could work in many styles, with each painting presenting a unique appearance and finish.

Often described as a 'vigorous realist,' who favored luscious color and bravura brushwork, perhaps the final word on Peterson's work should go to the critic of the Christian Science Monitor who, reviewing her solo show at Boston's St. Botolph Club on January 23, 1909, was moved to admit, “There is an athletic dash and swing to most of the paintings that is stimulating and captivating.” [quoted in Joseph, p. 27]

Captivating, indeed, and none more so than Peterson's oil paintings of Gloucester Harbor, Cape Ann.


Jane Peterson, An Old Pier, Gloucester, c. 1919, oc, 24 x 30, private collection

And on a final note:

Connie will be hosting an Open House at her studio, the weekend after Thanksgiving. Consider this your invitation....


Lorwen, Forsythia, oil, 24 x 20

Thanksgiving Weekend Open Studios
Lorwen ‘Connie’ Nagle invites you to see her latest paintings on 
November 24 & 25, 10am-5 pm, at Art On The Hill, 78 Government Street, Kittery, Maine

Art On The Hill