The artist was born on 19 January 1856, Birmingham, West Midlands and died on 8 May 1914 in London, age 57 (GRO). He studied art in Paris and came under the influence of Thomas Couture. Though his sending-in address was mainly in London (1882-1889), by 1884 he appears in the 1884 group photograph of Newlyn artists. He exhibited regularly at the RA, SS and the Grafton Gallery. In 1887 his sending-in address was given as Manchester.
With a specialty in genre or storytelling pictures, he mainly concentrated on painting 18th century costume pieces, of which he was a prolific exhibitor.
He was a founding member of the Birmingham Art Circle, and a lifelong friend of Edwin HARRIS. In one of Frank BRAMLEY's letters from Venice, to his colleague William John WAINWRIGHT back in England, he writes in 1883 that Breakspeare 'was working hard on the small island of Burano (Bay of Venice) and liked Venice very much.' Both Bramley and Breakspeare were to turn up in Newlyn the following year.
Genre painter and illustrator
works and access
Works include: The Fountain (1883); Gretchen (1908); Finis (1909); Flirtation (design) (1909); The Vicar of Wakefield (1910)
Access to works: Birmingham (The daughter of the house); Robert McDougall Art Gallery, New Zealand (The Fountain)
G (6); L (3); M (5); RA (21); RBA (18); ROI (52)
Fine Art Society (5)
Birmingham Art Circle (ff)
Green (1995) Artists at Home
Hardie (2009) Artists in Newlyn and West Cornwall (Bibl)
Johnson & Greutzner (1975) Dictionary of British Artists
Rezelman (1984) The Newlyn Artists and their Place in Late-Victorian Art (PhD)
Wood (1975) Victorian Painters (pl)