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Allan Freelon
(Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1895 - 1960)

Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1895, Allan Freelon was the first African American to receive a four-year scholarship to the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art, where he won the A.S.C. award in 1914, the school's highest award for design mosaic. Following service in World War I as a second lieutenant, Infantry, Freelon graduated from the Philadelphia School of Pedagogy in 1919 and accepted an appointment as an art teacher in the Philadelphia public schools. In 1921 he was the first African American appointed to the Department of the Superintendent in Philadelphia Schools, where he served as the Assistant Director of Art Education.

Freelon received a scholarship to study at the Barnes Foundation from 1927 - 1930, where he was exposed to works by Modernists. He summered in Gloucester and painted extensively under the tutelage of Emile Gruppe. Arguably, his greatest mentor and influence in his Impressionist style was Hugh Breckenridge, with whom he studied painting at the Philadelphia Sketch Club. Freelon was the first African American member of that organization, as well. A profound thinker, a pioneer African American Impressionist with extensive exhibition history, a lecturer at the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement and a teacher, Allan Freelon died in 1960 at his home in Telford, Pennsylvania.
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