Venice , January 1939
Also dated on the reverse
Gouache on paper18 x 18 inches
Jane Peterson enjoyed a very long and successful career as one of the foremost American women artists of the early twentieth century. She is admired and highly praised for developing a unique artistic style that blended techniques from Impressionism, Expressionism and Fauvism.
Born in Elgin, Illinois in 1876, Jane Peterson displayed an early aptitude in art and was encouraged by her parents to study at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. After graduating from Pratt in 1901, the young artist achieved a successful income from her artwork, supplemented by teaching art classes in Boston. However, in 1907, Peterson found herself dissatisfied with the negative perceptions of American painters without a formal European education received and decided to better her standing by studying abroad.
Peterson was delighted by the various artist colonies and new artistic freedoms Europe provided. She decided to prolong what was only to be a summer vacation into a permanent stay in Paris. She admired the emerging modern approach to color, form and imagery, but did not adopt these techniques, staying faithful to her own individual style.
As Peterson hoped, she became critically recognized for her artwork the following year by the Societe des Artistes Francais in Paris. The exhibition was extremely well received and earned the artist her first major exhibitions in America at the St. Botolph Club in Boston and the Knoedler Galleries in New York City. After such welcome success, she moved to Venice, Italy, to paint the city’s famous canals and decorous architecture.
Venice is a charming example from Peterson’s time there, depicting a number of gondoliers navigating the canals. This scene conveys her skill in rendering the complexities of light, shadow and reflection, and she creates a harmonious composition by eliminating unessential detail, keeping outlines loose and using a rich, colorful palette.