This is a modernist work (the medium appears to be tempera on board), measuring 10" by 17" (14" by 20 1/2" framed). It is signed at lower left by noted artist AMBROSE PATTERSON (1877-1967) and titled on the reverse, rather mysteriously, "The Alert". This is a late painting by the artist, who had a very different style earlier in his long painting career. Subject matter is open to viewer interpretation. The surface certainly seems to be complex and quite heavily worked. Patterson was born in Australia, studied at the National Gallery Art School in Melbourne, then furthered his studies in Paris at the academies, under Lucien Simon, Andre Lhote, and Maxime Maufra. Rather fortuitously, he was able to study for a time under John Singer Sargent while in Paris. In 1917 he was in Hawaii, then coastal central California (the Monterey Bay area---and he returned repeatedly to California for many decades---) and finally to Seattle, where he taught painting at the University of Washington for many years, eventually becoming a member of the so-called "Seattle Twelve" group of painters whose focus was Modernism. Patterson's earlier paintings are beautiful, traditionally impressionistic landscapes filled with light and color, very different from the late works. These earlier paintings have brought to the $25,000 area at auctions. This painting bears some evidence of having been exposed to moisture at some time---note the water stain on reverse, and the linen liner has some water staining. Also the board is not completely flat. At upper right, there is some suggestion of a brown stain that could be the water having seeped through from the reverse---somewhat less likely, it could be part of the artist's intent---but to be safe I'll call it a water stain, the light tan margin of the stain showing almost as a budding cumulus cloud. This is very lost in the busy design and probably not noticeable without someone pointing it out. All in all, a very interesting Mid Century work by a painter whose roots were in Impressionism, and whose mature years brought us advanced abstract art. These late works are very collectable in the Northwest.
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