This Breton Woman & Child is no Patterson’s curse

ambrose patterson breton womanAmbrose McCarthy Patterson  Breton Woman and Child, 1908 (oil on canvas)

Australian born painter and print-maker, Ambrose McCarthy Patterson was born on 29 June 1877, in Daylesford, Victoria. Patterson studied at the Melbourne Art School under Emmanuel Phillips Fox and Tudor St George Tucker, at the National Gallery Art School in Melbourne and continued his studies in Paris at the Académie Colarossi and the Académie Julian under Lucien Simon, André Lhote and Maxime Maufra.

In Paris he became a friend of compatriot famous soprano Nellie Melba, and Patterson’s brother, Tom, married Melba’s sister, Belle. Through Melba’s influence, he was able to continue his studies with John Singer Sargent. He became part of the Paris arts scene and exhibited at the first Salon d’Automne exhibitions. He had five paintings at the 1905 Paris Salon at which Henri Matisse and the fauves stunned the art world.

  • After a visit back home, in between 1900-10, Patterson spent the following seven years in Hawaii.
  • Following a year in San Francisco, he moved to Seattle to work as a freelance artist, perhaps being the first modern artist in that city.
  • In 1919 he established the University of Washington School of Painting and Design.

Patterson married painter and former student Viola Hansen in 1922, and the two became major figures of the arts in the Pacific Northwest region. Patterson taught until his retirement in 1947.

The Art Gallery of New South Wales (Sydney, Australia), the Honolulu Museum of Art, the National Portrait Gallery (Canberra, Australia), the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Seattle Art Museum and the Tacoma Art Museum are among the public collections holding Patterson’s works.

  • Ambrose Patterson died in Seattle on 26 December, 1967.

Breton Woman and Child (featured above) was last exhibited at the Australian Impressionists in France Exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria (15 June-6 October, 2013).

According to Dr. David Hansen, Senior Researcher and Specialist at Sotheby’s Australia, who saw this artwork which was sold in November 2013; suggests that this work was recently discovered in Belgium and the woman’s traditional costume of the Jeannaise maid and the intimate and sentimental wriggling of he child suggests that it is the artist’s daughter Anne (Nancy) who was born in January 1907.

P.S. As for Patterson’s or Patersons Curse, (Echium plantagineu, aka Salvation Jane); Australia has an invasive plant which originated from, and is mostly used in South Australia, due to its use as a source of food for grazing animals when the less drought tolerant grazing pastures die off. Despite its negative name, Paterson’s Curse has positive values: as a fodder plant, and with proper handling, it can be valuable fodder over summer for cattle and sheep, but not livestock without ruminant digestive systems.

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