Roi George Partridge Biography

Roi George Partridge




Roi Partridge, printmaker, painter, draftsman and teacher, was born Roy George Partridge 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 Whistler, Haden, 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, during which he changed his name from Roy to Roi. Partridge, unable to afford the academies, was primarily self-taught as an etcher but he was fortunate to find a mentor in Paris with the Chicago based printmaker/curator 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 wooed and 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.

His marriage to Imogen Cunningham in 1915 ended in divorce in 1934. They had three sons, including photographer Rondal Partridge. His second wife, artist Marion Lyman, died of cancer in 1940; his third wife was May Ellen Fisher. Partridge took a leave of absence from Mills in 1946, continued etching until 1952, and retired in 1954.

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.

Roi George Partridge died in Walnut Creek, California on January 25, 1984