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 Roi George Partridge  (1888 - 1984)

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Lived/Active: California/Washington      Known for: modernist etching and landscape painting

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Roy George Partridge is primarily known as Roi George Partridge

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Ad Code: 3
AskART Artist
from Auction House Records.
''Cypress Point, 17 Mile Drive, Carmel'' 1939
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
Biography from William R Talbot Fine Art:
Roi Partridge is known as an important modernist etcher and significant member of the San Francisco artistic circle that included Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Dorothea Lange, Maynard Dixon, and Imogen Cunningham.  The “focused realism” that these artists strove for in the 1920s produced some of the boldest visions in American art, often yielding highly abstract images with an emphasis on strong contrasts and patterning. In his etchings drawn from nature, Roi Partridge achieved rhythmic intonations that reveal his intimacy with his subjects and fluidity with his chosen medium.

Roi Partridge (1988–1984) grew up in Seattle, where at the age of ten he was enrolled in an art course. His family also lived for some time in Missouri, and there Roi attended the Kansas City Art Institute. Around the age of 20, Roi was again in Seattle, exhibiting his work and garnering awards. Soon after, he left for New York City to study at the National Academy of Design. From there, Roi continued to Germany to study etching, and then lived a few years in Paris, where he found interest in his etchings. While still in Paris, Partridge was invited to exhibit with the Chicago Society of Etchers, by Bertha Jaques, the Society’s organizer. His work was also sought for exhibition by the Seattle Fine Arts Society, which involved some correspondence between Partridge and Imogen Cunningham. Cunningham had established her photography studio in Seattle in 1910, and was active in the arts community. After Partridge’s return to Seattle, they developed a relationship and were married in 1915.

In 1917, the couple moved to San Francisco, and became significant forces in the art scene there. By 1920, Partridge was teaching at Mills College in Oakland, CA. Eventually he would become chair of the art department at Mills. He also served as the first director of the Mills College Art Gallery, presenting an important exhibition program that included Alexander Archipenko, Ansel Adams, Diego Rivera, Imogen Cunningham, and Edward Weston. With gifts of artworks from many of Partridge’s associates, he effectively developed the first public collection of modern art in Northern California.

Roi Partridge’s artworks are part of a number of important collections, including the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the British Museum, the Toronto Art Gallery, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Brooklyn Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Los Angeles County Museum, the San Diego Museum of Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Oakland Museum, and the Mills College Art Gallery.

White, Anthony R., The Graphic Art of Roi Partridge: A Catalogue Raisonné (1988).

Biography from Annex Galleries:
Roi Partridge, printmaker, painter, draftsman and teacher, was born in Centralia, Territory of Washington.  In 1905 his family moved to Kansas City, Missouri where Partridge eventually enrolled in the Fine Art Institute.  The return of his family to the Northwest in 1908 proved fortuitous as the following year the Seattle Public Library held a survey exhibition of graphic arts which included prints by Old Masters as well as James Whistler, Francis Haden, Joseph Pennell and B.J.O. Nordfeldt.  It was a seminal exhibition for Partridge, and he left for New York to study for a year at the National Academy of Design.

In 1910 he sailed for Europe, eventually settling for most of the year in Munich followed by three years in France.  Partridge, unable to afford the academies, was primarily self-taught as an etcher but he was fortunate to find a mentor in Bertha Jaques who promoted his work.  It was through her efforts that his etchings were exhibited with the Chicago Society of Etchers. 

Like so many other American artists in Paris in 1914, Partridge booked passage home. He returned to the Northwest where he wed the photographer, Imogen Cunningham, and they resettled in San Francisco in 1917.  Partridge began teaching at Mills College in 1920; he was named professor in 1922 and later served as the first director of the Mills College Art Gallery.

Forty-two of his etchings were displayed at the Panama-Pacific International Exhibition in 1915, and numerous exhibitions followed, including solo exhibitions at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor, the Los Angeles County Museum, and the Smithsonian Institution.  He was a member of the California Society of Etchers, Chicago Society of Etchers, Northwest Printmakers, and Society of American Etchers.  In 1949 Partridge won election to full Academician in the National Academy of Design.  His etchings were honored with numerous awards and are represented in numerous collections, including the British Museum, Mills College, the Brooklyn Museum, the Bancroft Library at the University of California, the Oakland Museum and the New York Public Library.

Biography from Crocker Art Museum Store:
An etcher, Roi George Partridge was born in Centralia in the territory of Washington on Oct. 14, 1888.  At age four Roi (ne George Roy) Partridge moved with his family to Seattle where his father worked as a typesetter and later owned the local newspaper.  In 1909 the budding artist traveled to New York City for one year of art study at the National Academy of Design, and then studied etching in Munich under Brockhoff.

His next three years were spent in Paris where he worked as a printmaker.  When the German troops were approaching the French capital in 1914, he returned to Seattle. When 44 of his etchings were shown at the Panama Pacific Exposition in 1915, he decided to make California his home.  After moving to San Francisco in 1917, he began teaching at Mills College in Oakland in 1920 and became the first director of the school's art gallery.  His marriage to photographer Imogen Cunningham in 1915 ended in divorce in 1934; his second wife, artist Marion Lyman, died of cancer in 1940; his third wife was May Fisher.

Partridge took a leave of abscence from Mills College in 1946, continued etching until 1952, and retired in 1954.  His last years were spent in Rossmoor in Walnut Creek, CA where he died on Jan. 25, 1984.

Some of his early works were signed with a drawing of a partridge.

National Academy of Design
Chicago Society of Etchers;
California Society of Etchers;
Brooklyn Society of Etchers;
San Francisco Art Association

Alaska-Yukon Expo (Seattle), 1909 (medal)
National Academy of Design, 1910 (medal)
Art Institutue of Chicago, 1921 (medal)
Soclété des Artistes Francais
Société Nationale des Beaux Arts (Paris)
Los Angeles County Museum of Art 1922, 1925, 1929 (medal)
California Prairie Printmakers Society, 1928 (gold medal)
Library of Congress, 1943.

National Museum of American Art
Oakland Museum; New York Public Library
De Young Museum
San Francisco Museum of Art
Museum of Modern Art
Toledo (OH) Museum
California State Library
Los Angeles County Museum
San Diego Museum
Toronto Art Gallery
Honolulu Academy of Art
Art Institute of Chicago
Carnegie Institute

Sources include:
Interview with the Artist
American Art Annuals, 1915-31
Who Was Who in American Art, 1936-59
American Artist, Nov. 1973;
San Francisco Chronicle, 10-12-1980 and 1-27-1984(obit).
Nearly 20,000 biographies can be found in Artists in California 1786-1940 by Edan Hughes and is available for sale ($150). For a full book description and order information please click here.

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Roy Partridge is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
San Francisco Panama-Pacific Exhibition 1915

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