Gertrude Partington Albright Biography

Gertrude Partington Albright




Gertrude Partington Albright was born in Heysham, England on September 11, 1874, the fifth of seven children born to John H. E. and Sarah Mottershead Partington. Both parents came from families of comfortable income and they were able to travel frequently. John Partington, an artist, writer, and theater enthusaiast, became their defacto teacher, training Gertrude and her siblings in art, music, and literature; all would go on to be involved in the arts. When John discovered that Gertrude was drawn to visual arts, he let her join him on sketching trips and taught her how to paint. When she was ten years old, the Partingtons moved to Oakland, California in 1880, whereupon John and Sarah became integral figures in the Bay Area arts scene. 

Gertrude was uninterested in formal education as a young person, finding classrooms distracting and perferring instead the instruction of her parents. She established herself as a working artist by age sixteen, taking commissions from the San Francisco Examiner to illustrate various articles and finding jobs as a courtroom sketch artist. However, an offer to be the appointed sketch artist for a convention in Philadelphia in the late 1890s proved to be a financial boon, and, following the completion of the job, she traveled to Paris with The San Francisco Call reporter and friend Alice Rix. There, Gertrude enrolled in classes at the Academie Delecluse and with R. X. Prinet. After a month she opened her own studio and invited established artists to critique her work; she remained in Paris for several years, traveling back to California regularly. Her study in Paris included learning intaglio techniques such as etching and drypoint.

Partington returned to the Bay Area in 1903. Around this time she took up drypoint printmaking, to critical acclaim. After several years of travel and study, she finally settled in San Francisco in 1912 and opened her own studio at 220 Post Street, where she held her first solo exhibition of paintings in December of 1913. The following year she held an exhibition of her etchings and drypoints in her studio. The art critic Michael Williams of the San Francisco Examiner wrote about her work: “Her pictures are a revelation of what San Francisco can offer the lover of beauty - bits of the coast near Mussel Rock or near the Golden Gate sand dunes, views and vistas in the Panhandle... All are individual; all are charming evocations of nature as beheld through the medium of a very authentically artistic temperament.”

Gertrude married artist Herman Oiver Albright in 1917. She was a very active participant in the San Francisco art scene, supporting and promoting the openings of galleries throughout the city, and serving on art exhibition juries throughout the 1920s and 1930s. She was a member of the San Francisco Art Association, the Club Beaux Arts, a charter member of the California Society of Etchers, and a member and director of the San Francisco Society of Women Artists. Albright taught painting and etching at the California School of Fine Arts where she was appointed Associate Professor of painting and drawing until her retirement in 1946.

She exhibited at the Salon International des Beaux Arts, Paris; the Carnegie Institute, New York; the Corcoran Gallery, Washington, D.C.; the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition, San Francisco, where she was awarded a bronze medal for painting; the DeYoung Museum, San Francisco; and many more. Her work is in the collections of the City of San Francisco, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Oakland Museum of California Art; the National Gallery of Art, and the National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.

Gertude Partington Albright died in San Francisco on September 7, 1959.