Hugh Henry Breckenridge

(American, 1870 - 1937)

The pioneer American modernist and teacher Hugh Henry Breckenridge was born in Leesburg, Virginia. He entered the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1887, and opened his first studio in Philadelphia the following year. He studied at the Académie Julian in Paris in 1892 and was strongly influenced by French modernism. After returning to Philadelphia he became one of the main instructors at the Academy in 1894 and remained there for forty-three years. Breckenridge exhibited widely throughout the United States and won many awards. An immensely influential teacher, he founded the Darby Summer School of Painting in Pennsylvania with Thomas Anshutz in 1900 and the Breckenridge School in Gloucester, Massachusetts, in 1918. He painted a wide variety of subjects but was especially noted for his still life compositions which he considered “the purest art of painting.” Breckenridge was painting highly expressive, nonrepresentational works by the middle1920s. Along with Adolphe Borie, Arthur Beecher Carles Jr., Earl Horter, Henry McCarter, Carroll S. Tyson, and Franklin Chenault Watkins. Breckenridge was one of seven artists who participated in the landmark exhibition of Philadelphia modernists at the Wildenstein Gallery in New York in 1927.