Biography: Born and educated in Manchester, England, Partington was part of the Manchester School of Painters, young vanguard artists who gathered around Joseph Knight in the 1870s. He exhibited at the Royal Academy and founded a life study school in Manchester modeled on the Académie Julian in Paris. For health reasons Partington moved with his wife and children to Oakland, California, in the 1880s. He and his son Richard founded the Partington School of Illustrating in San Francisco in 1891. In California he achieved success as a portrait painter, attracting major commissions in the 1890s.
The Partingtons were related to the Bancroft family of Delaware, who donated significant works by John, Richard, and Gertrude Partington to the Museum. Samuel Bancroft was the collector responsible for the formation of the Delaware Art Museum's Bancroft Collection of Pre-Raphaelite Art.