High in the Tree Tops

PattersonClaude-High in the Tree Tops.jpg
PattersonClaude - High in the Tree Tops.JPG

Dublin Core



We’re asked to adopt a perspective almost never accessible to humans: near the top of a tree, at close proximity to parrots. A light wash of cloudy white and blue in the background encloses the birds; their distinctive colors echo those of the tree’s leaftips and berries. An earlier New Deal Gallery inventory speculates that this is a rubber tree, and it does appear to be a Ficus of some variety. Patterson’s watercolor bears resemblance in its design to his Orioles: a simplified canopy to better frame the birds, an emphasis upon their bright colors, and a use of foreshortening to bunch several birds closer together.

About the Artist
: Born in Monmouth, IL, Patterson’s practice of art required entrepreneurship throughout his life. The son of a printer, he financed his study at Monmouth College by working summers on the railroad in nearby Des Moines, the in 1913 he teaching art lessons (Des Moines Register 15 July 1913: 9). He went on to receive further training at the Cummings School of Art (University of Iowa), the Philadelphia School of Design, and a masters in fine arts at Harvard University. At the same time, however, he continued to teach at far-flung locations: the Cummings School (Iowa), Northern State Teachers College (South Dakota), Tulane University, and at the Universities of Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin (Des Moines Register 13 Sept. 1925: 10). His professional life, in other words, was contingent; alongside notices of his teaching posts are mentions of threatened cuts to art programs. His NDG paintings most likely date to a period when he lived in New York for about a decade, perhaps teaching at Columbia University. For most of his life Patterson’s horizon remained regional; he often won prizes at the Iowa Art Salon—where he exhibited for 25 consecutive years—and the Des Moines Womens Club exhibitions.


Patterson, Claude A[llan], 1887-1973







Still Image Item Type Metadata

Original Format

Watercolor painting

Physical Dimensions

19.5 x 23.5 in.
Painting condition: paper buckled