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2013 Catalog > 12. Roi Partridge. “On the Range”

12. Roi Partridge (George Roy Partridge, 1988–1984). “On the Range, 1932–33.”

Etching. Image: 9 7/8 x 13 7/8" at plate mark. Sheet: 11 1/2 x 16 1/4." Etched within image: “Roi Partridge” 1932–33. Signed in pencil at bottom center. Faint age-toning. Excellent.

Price: $1,800. [ Order ]

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.

“On the Range” presents a landscape characteristic of California’s great interior valleys. From a bird’s eye view, a sweeping range of mountains emerges from a nearly flat terrain in the foreground. The land and a few clouds occupy the lower third of the picture, contrasted with a huge, empty expanse of sky. The whole is rendered with a minimum of etched lines and a freshness that conveys the quality of a masterful drawing. The etched-in date of 1932–33, suggests that a sketch was done in 1932, and the etching completed in 1933.

Roi Partridge 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 where 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 held in 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.

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

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