Jane Peterson (American, 1876-1965)
His Bungalow / Percival Lowell's House, Flagstaff, Arizona
Signed "JANE PETERSON" l.r., identified on a label from Hirschl & Adler Galleries,
Inc., New York, on the backing.
Gouache on paper, sheet size 18 x 24 in. (45.7 x 61.0 cm), framed.
Condition: Not examined out of frame.
Literature: Leonard, Louise. Percival Lowell: An Afterglow, Boston: Richard G. Badger, 1921, pgs. 18, 70 (illus.)
N.B. Percival Lowell, a descendant of the original Boston Lowell Family, built the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, in 1894. He is credited with laying the groundwork for the discovery of Pluto in 1930, which he had only speculated to exist before his death in 1916.
Prior to moving West, Lowell had traveled and written extensively on Far East Asia, specifically Japan, documenting life and customs in the 1880s. Like other educated men of his social standing and time, he was fascinated by exotic culture and was inspired to understand it. His interest '…to know and interpret the dynamic and vital evolution of other worlds…' parlayed into a focus on planetary research, and Lowell chose to build his observatory in Flagstaff due to its high elevation and clear air which was ideally suited for viewing the night sky. ¹
The present work depicts Lowell's Arts and Crafts bungalow in the high desert of Arizona. The incongruity of this style to the landscape (and his wishful attempt to grow Japanese iris in the desert) speaks to the deep influence of Japonisme on his aesthetics.
1. Leonard, Louise. Percival Lowell: An Afterglow. Boston: The Gorham Press, 1921. pg. 7, 39.