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Two Black Landscape Painters Working in Pennsylvania in the Early 20th Century

Allan Freelon (1895-1960), Untitled (Sheep Grazing), c. 1930, oil on board. Estimate: $2500-$3500


Henry Bozeman Jones (1889-1973), Autumn, c. 1930, oil on canvas. Estimate: $5000-$7000

Two important impressionist painters working in the Philadelphia area in the first part of the 20th century were Henry Bozeman Jones and Allan Randall Freelon.  It is somewhat unusual to think of landscape painters (and to be clear, both of these artists painted other subjects) as innovative, radical, or controversial, but those descriptions might fit these two artists if you look at the big picture.  On one hand, the subject matter actually stood in defiance to Alain Locke’s New Negro agenda, and on the other hand, the idea of directly competing with the overwhelming number of white academically-trained artists painting in an impressionist or post-impressionist style in the 1920s-1930s was daunting.  Perhaps the reason that their work is known and loved still today is because they were just that good.  A work by Henry Bozeman Jones sold in 2006 for $19,200 and a painting by Allan Randall Freelon sold in 2016 for $37,500 at auctions in New York,

Henry Bozeman Jones (1889-1973) was a Philadelphia painter, author, and illustrator.  He studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts from 1908-1910 with Thomas Anschutz and Hugh Breckenridge.  The latter’s influence is shown in the sun dappled light of the woodland in the work, Autumn. Jones exhibited frequently with the Harmon Foundation (1929-1931 and 1933).  His work was also shown at the Print Club, Sketch Club, and Y.W.C.A. of Philadelphia, as well as Howard University, ACA Gallery, and the Smithsonian Institute.  In 1933, the 135th branch of the New York Public Library held a solo exhibition of his work.  

Lot 45, the Henry Bozeman Jones painting featured in the Melvin Holmes Collection, can be found by clicking here.

Allan Freelon (1895-1960), untitled Landscape, c. 1930, oil on board. Estimate $2500-$3500

Allan Randall Freelon, Sr. (1865-1960)  Freelon was the first African American to be awarded a four year scholarship to the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art.  He also became the first African American in the nation to lead a public school system’s art program (1921).  He exhibited at the Harmon Foundation from 1928-1931.  Freelon was deeply influenced by Emile Gruppe and fellow Pennsylvania impressionist, Hugh Breckinridge.  He was lured to the artist colony of Gloucester, Massachusetts in the 1920s, where he encountered some of the top artists of the day.  By 1930, Freelon had shifted to a vibrant palette and broken brushwork more typically associated with the post-impressionists.  Freelon maintained a studio and offered classes from the Windy Crest barn studio on Melvin Road in Telford, Pennsylvania.  The Woodmere Museum in Philadelphia held a retrospective exhibition of his work in 2004.

North Carolina Central University Art Museum’s exhibition catalog, Allan Freelon: Pioneer African American Impressionist provides a comprehensive look at the artist’s life and career as a painter, writer, and activist.
Two works by Allan Freelon are featured in the sale of works from the Melvin Holmes Collection. They can be found on lot 34 and lot 35.
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