Morris Blackburn was born in Philadelphia and spent his career in the city. After schooling at the Philadelphia Trade School and work in the Hog Island shipbuilding yard, he began his art training in 1922 at the Graphic Sketch Club. He studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts from 1925 to 1929, winning two Cresson Traveling Scholarships. In the mid-1930s he participated in the Public Works Art Project, executing murals for the Mastbaum Vocational School and Haverford High School. He began his long teaching career in 1932 at the Pennsylvania Museum School of Industrial Art. Around 1936-37 Blackburn attended the private classes of Arthur B. Charles, who became his close friend and mentor.

In the mid-1940s he undertook a variety of teaching positions and from 1948 to 1952 he taught graphics at Tyler School of Art. In 1945 he initiated the adult training program at the Philadelphia Museum where he continued to hold classes until 1972. In 1952 Blackburn joined the faculty of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Beginning as the Academy’s first instructor in graphics, he was involved with the re-evaluation and changes in the curriculum leading to the introduction of a general program for first-year students. He frequently gave informal seminars in his home, and held private classes in landscape painting in southern New Jersey.

He worked in a wide variety of media, using Philadelphia or New Jersey scenes as his subjects. His style emphasized strong compositional elements, and often recalled his early concern with abstraction. He was the subject of several films. “Portrait of a Painter” was completed in 1959 by Emidio Angelo. “South Jersey Sketchbook” was made for Channel 52 in Philadelphia, and “Time-Binding,” a film about his teaching and painting methods, was in progress during the last years of his life.

The above biography was excerpted from the lengthier information in Philadelphia: Three Centuries of American Art, (Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1976), pp. 584-86. Morris Blackburn: participation in regional exhibitions (other than the annual exhibitions) at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. All catalogues available from the PAFA Archives.

Works of Art (PAFA's Collection) 

Drawings and Watercolors






Archival records at PAFA

1. Morris Blackburn papers (MS.058) Finding Aid

3. Model Stand Chats (transcribed and edited by Marie Maber)


Morris Blackburn, Legacy of an Artist by John Thorton

Our Thanks and Citations

Exhibition: Morris Blackburn and his Legacy: Painter, Printmaker, Writer & teacher, January 22 – February 21, 2020


Patrick Connors
Kandice Fields
Larry Francis
Edgar Jerins
Gilbert Lewis
Nancy Witt Mulick

Mary Nomecos
Rhoda Rosenberg
Bill Scott
Stuart Shils
Louis Sloan (1932-2008)
Elizabeth Tasker
Pat Vanaman Witt

Works of art on view in this video are protected by their original copyrights. Single-colored and Two-color print screen proofs by Morris Blackburn included in the creation of the 1940 serigraphy, “Betty” have the following identification and Credit Lines: 1941-92-1: 1st Screen, Gift of the Artist, 1941; 1941-92-2: 1st Yellow Screen, Gift of the Artist, 1941; 1941-92-3: 4 second yellow screen, Gift of the Artist, 1941; 1941-92-4: yellow over red, Gift of the Artist, 1941; 1941-92-5: 5 black line screen, Gift of the Artist, 1941.

Exhibiting at PAFA

1930 #464. Still Life

1939 #16. Figure: Sally-Jo; #30. Figure

1940 #383. Landscape

1942 #392. Still Life

1943 #302. Edith Saunders

1944 #345. Fisherman's House

1945 #1. Still Life

1946 #266. Abstraction

1947 #153. Gloucester

1948 #252. Still Life with Mask

1949 #319. Jersey Shore

1950 #263. Night Lights

1951 #146. Rocks and Docks

1952 #185. Barnegat Framed

1953 #158. Dock and Debris

1954 #152. Lobster Dock

1956 #226. Billboard

1958 #38. Golgotha

1959 #340. The Fountain (water color and gouache) $300.00; #341. The Mission - Taxco (gouache) $300.00; #342. Taxco (water color) $400.00

1960 #23. Adobe

1962 #33. Sangre De Christo

1964 #2. New Mexico Landscape

1966 #124. Corson's

1968 #22. Fog in Maine

1969 #198. The Rock (Sumi ink) $300.00; #199. Cherry Tree (Sumi ink) $300.00; #200. Red WIllow (Sumi ink) $300.00

1926 #437. Venture Inn. (Carbon pencil)

1929 #825. Theix; Brittany (Water color); #829. VIlle Close; Concarneau No. 1 (Water color)

1946 #465. Space Cone (Gouache)

1948 #124. Vartiation on a Theme (Gouache) $250.00; #126. Lyric Abstraction (Gouache) $250.00; #127. Vertical Pivot (Gouache) $250.00

1952 #287. Docks and Masts (Gouache) $200.00; #291. Space in Rocky Neck (Gouache) $200.00

1953 #219. Nets and Masts (Gouache) $250.00; #220. Port Side (Gouache) $250.00

Paintings, Drawings, and Prints by Morris Blackburn, March 11-April 17, 1966

9 Members of Academy Faculty: Paintings, drawings and sculpture by Oliver Grimley; Adolph Dioda; Karl Karhumaa; Kim Sou; Tom Ewing; Alan Goldstein; Warren Rohrer; Morris Blackburn and Julian Levi, May 19 – July 31, 1971

Morris Blackburn Memorial Exhibition, January 9-30, 1980

Morris Blackburn: Paintings, June 4-16, 1946

Regional Exhibition of Oil Painting and Sculpture Philadelphia and Vicinity, March 10 – April 8, 1951

Philadelphia Water Color Club, 38th Annual Exhibition of Work by Members, October 15 – November 20, 1955

Private Collections of Fourteen Philadelphia Artists, November 7 – December 6, 1959

Fellowship Annual Exhibition of Oil Paintings and Sculpture, Water Colors, Pastels and Prints, March 16- April 7, 1946

Fellowship Annual Exhibition, March 8 – April 8, 1956. Fish Out (engraving and etching)

Morris Blackburn - PAFA Modernist, works 1939-1949, February 15 - April 21, 2013

PAFA Prize

Teaching at PAFA

Click on the images below:


Click here to view more images of Blackburn teaching students.

Model Stand Chats (transcribed and edited by Marie Maber)

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