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The daughter of a sea captain, Margaret Jordan Patterson was born on the island of Java during a voyage. Her early education was completed at public schools in the Boston area. Upon completion, Patterson enrolled in a correspondence course offered by L. Prang & Co. and, in 1895, studied for one year at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn.
Like many unmarried professional women artists of her time, Patterson had a career as a teacher. She taught art in public schools for almost 20 years, and then in 1910, she became head of the art department at the Dana Hall School in Wellesley, ¬ MA. A born adventurer and having her summers free, Margaret Patterson most often sailed to Europe financed by the sale of her artwork and teaching income. During the war years, she traveled instead to Cape Cod and Monhegan.
Patterson always gave special credit to Arthur Wesley Dow and Charles H. Woodbury for her artistic training – both were enthusiastic and influential teachers of their time.
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