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Walter S. Breene [1884-1951]


[From the catalogue-in-progress for “Landscapes & Livestock”, a loan exhibition for Agincourt Homecoming in the Fall of 2015]

BREENE, Walter Simmons [1884-1951]

“Early Morning — Arizona”


etching/ 6 inches by 7 1/4 inches

If the Community Collection is a reflection of Agincourt’s understanding of art as a cultural construct, then this etching by Walter Breene may be among its most central, most typical works—a cautious claim, indeed, because the collection and the community that shaped its content have each been a moving target.

Irish-born Breene emigrated to the U.S. in 1904 and located first in San Bernardino, California, then later in San Diego.* City directories indicate Breene worked the majority of his life as a clerk in dry goods and department stores. If art was merely an avocation, we should be grateful.

*On-line and one published source not consulted suggest that Breene did not emigrate until the 1930s. Genealogical sources, however, clearly put his arrival at the Port of New York in 1904, with a stated destination of southern California. Among his fellow passengers was a Miss McInerny, sister of the McInerny & Co. dry goods merchants in San Bernardino who were Breene’s earliest employer.

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