James William Pattison is the son of the principal of Oread Institute, college for ladies of Worcester, Mas.
Close to the end of the civil war, he is enrolled in the Union army and publishes some sketches of the conflict in the Harper’s weekly magazine. At the end of the war, he started to study private art in Saint-Louis where he met his first wife. In 1866, in New York, he takes some landscape painting lessons from Sanford, R. W. Gifford, the Williams brothers, James Hart and George Inness.
After five years of being art professor at the Washington University of Saint-Louis, James William Pattison went to Düsseldorf for continuous training. In 1876, he is remarried with Helen Searle
Helen Searle (1834-1884) was the daughter of the known and wealthy architect Henry Robinson Searle (1836-1882). She was born in Burlington VT. From ten years old she lived in Rochester NY located in the “Finger Lakes” area, North of the NY State, close to the Ontario lake.
Very young, she started to paint still life of flowers and fruits.
In 1864, she exhibited at the Buffalo Fine Art Academy. She was teacher for painting and drawing at the Ms Bryan Women Seminar of Batavia.
In 1866, she did her first important exhibition at the New York National academy of Design.
From 1867 to 1871, she studied at the Painting Academy of Düsseldorf with Wilhem Preyer (1803-1889). In 1870, her exhibition at the art dealers gallery Bismeyer & Kraus brought the attention of the specialized medias. In Düsseldorf she met James William Pattisson.
In 1879, James William Pattison, his wife Helen and his two children are moving to Ecouen. He studied with Luigi Chialiva. They lived in a hotel located 9 Place de la mairie (City hall place).
James William Pattison exhibited “Deux enfants” (two children) and “Figures in a street of Ecouen” at the 1880 Salon de Paris.
Back in New York for two years, James William Pattison exhibited at the National Academy of Design and at the American Watercolor painters Society. He became director of the Fine Art school of Jacksonville, Ill. In 1896, once more widowed, he moved to Chicago, giving conferences at the local Art Institute. He was teaching at the Art College of Rockford, Ill, being very active in the Municipal Art League and other local organizations. In 1907, the Municipal Art League of Chicago bought his most famous painting “Serenity”.
James William Pattison was a writer concerning art subjects. He started in 1886 with the serial “Art talks of Pattison” in the Jacksonville News and the Chicago News. He published several books concerning painters from Renaissance time to the modern one.
James William Pattison retired in Ashville, NC. and died at the age of seventy.