Hugh Henry Breckenridge

Life Dates
1870-1937

Hugh Henry Breckenridge (1870 - 1937) was a painter, instructor and dean at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts for over forty years, and also founded a summer art school in Gloucester, MA. In 1892, he was awarded a scholarship for l'Académie Julian, studying with William A Bouguereau and traveling through Europe with Walter E Schofield.

Breckenridge's subsequent landscapes, portraits, and figure paintings reveal the influence of impressionism and an overwhelming fascination with color. His first solo exhibition in 1904 included both paintings and pastels and he produced many commissioned portraits, exhibiting the dazzling brushwork typical of society portraiture of the period. A second trip to Europe with Schofield in 1909 awakened Breckenridge to more avant-garde trends and in the 1910s, he worked alternately in a vigorous neo-impressionist technique, referred to as "tapestry painting,' and in a somewhat academic style enriched by an expressionist palette. These paintings brought Breckenridge to him national recognition as a foremost modernist whose art was easily accessible to the public. He began exhibiting abstract paintings in 1922.

Breckenridge began teaching at PAFA in 1894. In Darby, PA, he and Thomas Anshutz founded the Darby School of Painting in 1900. In 1919 Breckenridge became Director of Fine Arts at the Maryland Institute in Baltimore, and sometimes returned to impressionism, painting landscapes of Gloucester and still life paintings in his later years.

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