Jane Peterson was a centennial baby. She was born on November 28, 1876, in Elgin, Illinois. Her parents were an Elgin Watch Company employee and a homemaker. They named her Jennie Christine. Little did they know that their baby would grow up to be considered one of the most prolific and brilliant impressionist painters of her day.

Although she had no formal training as a child, she had an aptitude for art. After graduating from high school, she applied to and was accepted by the Pratt Institute in New York. Her mother provided the $300 needed to enroll and the rest, as they say, is history. Young Jennie studied under Arthur Wesley Dow, a painter, printmaker, and photographer who was influential in the Arts and Crafts movement at the beginning of the 20th century.

After graduating from Pratt in 1901, she studied watercolor and oil painting with Frank DuMond at the Arts Student League in New York City. He was an illustrator and impressionist painter who taught thousands of students over more than 50 years.

Jennie Peterson took the grand tour of Europe as a young woman. She viewed great works of art and studied with some of the masters. Perhaps, her most important connection in Europe came when she studied in Paris in 1907. Through her friendship with Gertrude and Leo Stein, she met Picasso and Matisse. She was also exposed to Fauvism, Expressionism, Impressionism, and the beginning of Cubism.

Her original style developed out of her exposure to these styles of painting. Her first major American exhibition was at the St. Botolph Club in Boston in 1909. It was after this showing that she changed her name to Jane.

Jane Peterson’s unique style made her one the most innovative and influential artists of her day. During her lifetime, she received awards from the National Association of Women Painters and Sculptors, the Society of Western Arts, and was the 1938 American Historical Society’s Outstanding Individual of the Year. She was only the second woman to receive this award. She also taught or supervised teaching in New York, Massachusetts, and Maryland.

Jane married for the first time at age 50. Her husband, Mortiz Bernard Phillipp, was 25 years older. He died in 1929. She married James S. McCarthy in 1939 but the marriage lasted less than a year.

She used her talent during World War I to benefit Liberty Loans and the American Red Cross. During World War II she created portraits of female U.S. servicewomen. She is best known for her paintings of landscapes, flowers, and portraits. By the time she died on August 14, 1965, she was featured in more than 80 one-woman exhibitions.

There is so much more to know about this fascinating woman who was born during the Victorian era, came of age during the Edwardian era, and was one of the most influential artists of her day. We hope this piques your interest to know more! To view a slideshow of her work accompanied by some beautiful classical music, please visit Alchetron’s page about Jane Peterson.

Gallery updated March 7, 2019

Recollections fashions are inspired by women from history. Here are a few of the fashions that might make an appearance in a Jane Peterson painting.


Illinois Women Artists Project – Jane Peterson

The Caldwell Gallery – Jane Peterson

Tutt’ Art – Jane Peterson | Impressionist / Expressionist painter