Hugh Henry Breckenridge 1870-1937


  • 11 x 13 1/4 inches (27.9 x 33.7 cm)
  • Oil on canvas laid on panel
  • Signed lower right: Hugh H. Breckenridge
  • 1925

Why We Love It

Breckenridge was a leading proponent of Modernism and as an influential instructor, helped introduce it into the curriculum at PAFA. He explored a variety of styles throughout his career, and this late work demonstrates how fluidly he adopted the language of abstraction. The playful orchestration of vibrant color harmonies also reveals Breckenridge’s lifelong fascination with the theory of color.

The Value

Breckenridge’s abstract paintings are some of his best and also quite rare. The vibrant color and dynamic composition of this example are the qualities most sought by collectors of his abstract works. The perfect condition and excellent provenance add to the rarity and quality of the work, making it an excellent opportunity to own a painting by this important early American modernist.

Artist Background

1870: Born in Leesburg, Virginia; 1887-92: Attended the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Art, where he was deeply affected by the legacy of Thomas Eakins; 1889: Awarded first Toppan Prize from PAFA; 1892: Awarded PAFA’s Cresson Traveling Scholarship, which enabled him to travel through Europe and study at the Academie Julian with William Bouguereau; 1894-1937: Began teaching at PAFA, where he was a principle instructor. He was also responsible for developing the modernist curriculum at PAFA along with Arthur Carles and Henry McCarter; 1900: Opened the Darby Summer School of Painting with Thomas Anshutz; 1904: First solo exhibition at PAFA: 1909: Traveled to Europe with Walter Schofield and was deeply affected by the modernist painting he saw; 1910s: Worked alternately in a neoimpressionist technique, which he called “tapestry painting,” and a more academic style enriched by an expressionist palette; 1920-37: Established and taught at the Breckenridge School of Art, East Gloucester, Massachusetts; 1922: Began exhibiting abstract paintings, which demonstrated a deep fascination with color theory; 1937: Died.