Jane Peterson was born in 1876 in Illinois. She would become one of America’s most innovative artists. She took art classes in school as a child. In 1895, she moved to New York City to study art at the Pratt Institute under Arthur Wesley Dow. She also studied at the Art Students League. Soon she had the opportunity to travel to Paris to continue her education. Peterson befriended Gertrude and Leo Stein while there and they introduced her to other artists in their circle such as Picasso and Matisse.
In 1908, Jane Peterson exhibited her work at the Societe des Artistes Francais in Paris. Her time in Paris exposed her to art from many different movements, such as Fauvism, Expressionism, Impressionism, and the early stages of Cubism. Influences from these movements can be seen in her work and help to make her style unique, but has been compared to fellow American Artist, Maurice Prendergast, as being closely tied stylistically. She traveled throughout Europe and had the opportunity to paint and study with many great artists of the day. From 1910 to 1914 she was back in the United States and exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois, the American Watercolor Society, the New York Society of Painters and the Baltimore Watercolor Club in Maryland.
She met Louis Comfort Tiffany, who commissioned art from her friend artist Joaquin Sorolla. Jane Peterson had the opportunity to paint Tiffany’s gardens in his home in Oyster Bay, New York and travel across the U.S. in his private rail car. Her work from this trip would become some of her best known.
In 1938, Jane Peterson would become the second woman to be honored with the American Historical Society’s’ most outstanding individual of the year’. She lived an adventurous life for a woman of the time. Her landscapes and still-lifes blended traditional technique with the more avant-guard Impressionists, Post-impressionists, Expressionists, and Fauves. She died on August 14, 1965.