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Ambrose Patterson was born in Daylesford, Victoria in 1877. He studied at the National Gallery of Victoria School of Art and in 1898-1899 continued his studies in Europe, returning to Australia via Canada and the USA. From 1901 to 1910 he again spent most of his time in Europe, but now under the sponsorship of Dame Nellie Melba who wished him “to work and be a gentleman” without financial constraints.
In 1915 Patterson travelled to Honolulu, Hawaii, before settling in the USA, where he became a prominent artist and teacher. From 1919 to 1947 he lectured at the University of Washington Art School, Seattle.
Patterson’s involvement with printmaking dates from his first trip to Honolulu in 1915 and many of his woodcuts illustrate themes taken from this and subsequent visits. In 1917 Patterson became a member of the Printmaking Society of California and in 1929 he was a co-founder of the Northwest Printmakers Society. In the late 1940s he produced at least one print in an abstract manner.
Patterson’s reputation in Australia is based on his portraits in oil many of which were produced during his years in Paris. His last visit to Australia was in 1951.
Patterson died in Seattle in 1967.
© Roger Butler, 1991.
Published in Australian Printmakers in America 1900 -1950, exhibition catalogue, Canberra:Australian National Gallery, 1991.