Letters Home: 1859-1906 The Letters Of William Blair Bruce

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Letters Home: 1859-1906

The Letters Of William Blair Bruce

Edited and Introduced by Joan Murray

6 X 9 inches, 256 pages
17 figures, 68 b&w plates

THE COMPLETE COLLECTION OF LETTERS by the Canadian painter of such well known paintings as "The Phantom Hunter" and "The Smiths." A close friend of the major American painter, Theodore Robinson, Bruce (1859-1906) studied and painted in Europe most of his adult life. Edited by Joan Murray of the Robert McLaughlin Gallery in Oshawa, Letters Home also served as a catalogue for the major pieces of Bruce's work exhibited in a 1982-84 tour.

In 1973 when, as the Curator of Canadian Art at the Art Gallery of Ontario, I was preparing the exhibition Impressionism in Canada ... I noted the work of William Blair Bruce on several occasions. His painting featured a modulated, all-over tone or atmosphere. His handling had a virtuoso quality—he used brilliant passages of broken down, highly keyed colour in splotches, dabs, and drips, especially in the background of his large canvases. His colouring, often a harmony or red, pink, lavender, and turquoise, was lyrical, sensitive, and bold. Some of his sketches, such as Marine Sunset (1896) recalled the work of Claude Monet in handling and subject matter....

One day ... in the vault of the Art Gallery of Hamilton's cramped old building, T.R. MacDonald, then director, pointed out a box of letters marked "William Blair Bruce." He allowed me to borrow the letters which I took with me on my subsequent move to The Robert McLaughlin Gallery in Oshawa. Between that day and this lie seven years of intermittent work. I went by chance, in 1975 to Brucebo, Bruce's home during his later years, which is situated outside the town of Visby on an island off the east coast of Sweden. I studied his work there and in Visby's Fornsal, the museum where it hangs today, and later arranged to borrow a number of paintings for an exhibition of Bruce's work which circulated from Newfoundland to Winnipeg. Meanwhile, I had read Bruce's letters and become convinced of their significance as primary documents for the art of Victorian Canada....

In transcribing the letters, I have maintained Bruce's peculiar and sometimes eccentric style.....

Joan Murray, from the Acknowledgements



William Blair Bruce


Author, Artist


Joan Murray

Editor, Introduction

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