Most admirers of painter Jane Peterson can distinguish the influences of several major movements of art in her works. Her innovative style blended the techniques and methods of the Impressionists, post Impressionists, Expressionists and the Fauvists. She was drawn to urban and rural scenes of "everyday" life, and was greatly attracted to the cities of Europe.
Her family, though not wealthy, afforded her drawing lessons at a young age and when she was nineteen her mother paid for her tuition at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. She studied there under Arthur Wesley Dow and also became an instructor herself.
In 1901 she was appointed as the Drawing Supervisor of Brooklyn Public Schools, but continued her studies at the Art Students League in New York. She had hoped to take a painting excursion or period of study in Europe to complete her art education and in 1907 headed to Europe in the company of two married painters, Florence and Henry Snell.
She remained in Europe for several years, studying in London and Venice, then to Madrid in 1909, where she would meet her most influential teacher, Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida. It was his use of brilliant color and light, in addition to his unique brush work that would most strongly influence Peterson's future work.
She next traveled to Paris where she encountered the newest works of Matisse, Cezanne and Picasso, among others. This period of her travels inspired her to abandon some of the traditions of her formal education, and instead begin relying on the bold colors and patterns and the use of light that she had witnessed in the works of "avant garde" Paris.
She settled in New York upon her return from Europe around 1910. Having had a successful showing in Boston while abroad, her reputation and acquaintances gained her access to some preeminent names in the American art world, including Louis Comfort Tiffany with whom she would take painting trips. In fact, the peers that she frequently traveled and painted with demonstrate the level of professionalism and expertise she had reached by this period of her career. Her colleagues and friends included Maurice Prendergast, Childe Hassam and John Singer Sargent, as well as Tiffany.
Around 1912 Peterson began to teach and travel frequently. She taught watercolor at the Art Student's League and began producing still life work, set in rich and lush backgrounds.
By 1939 she had attained a high level of notoriety and was even named the "most outstanding individual of the year" by the American Historical Society.
Her works were purchased by major museums and private collectors and can be seen around the world.