DescriptionPATRICK HENRY BRUCE (American, 1881-1936)
Floral Still Life, circa 1910
Oil on canvas
21-1/2 x 18-1/4 inches (54.6 x 46.4 cm)
Signed lower right and verso: Bruce
PROPERTY FROM THE KING COLLECTION, TEXAS
Helen Kibbey Bruce, the artist's wife;
William Kennedy, Marigot, Saint Martin, acquired circa 1960;
Washburn Gallery, New York;
Acquired by the present owner, from the above, October 1984.
(Possibly) "The International Exhibition of Modern Art" (Armory Show), New York, February 17-March 15, 1913, no. 162 or 163;
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas, "Patrick Henry Bruce: American Modernist," May 31-July 29, 1979, no. 69;
Washburn Gallery, New York, "Patrick Henry Bruce (1881-1936)," November 5-December 31, 1980;
Federal Reserve Board, Washington, DC, "Patrick Henry Bruce 1910-1912," July 1-August 31, 1981;
Washburn Gallery, New York, "Carles Contemporaries: Fifth Floor Inaugural Exhibition," September 13-October 27, 1984;
El Paso Museum of Art, El Paso, Texas, "Roundup: Selected Works from Friends of the El Paso Museum of Art," January 26-April 8, 2001;
Salander-O'Reilly Galleries, LLC, New York, "Patrick Henry Bruce (1881-1936)," May 14-June 28, 2002;
El Paso Museum of Art, El Paso, Texas, "Modern American Painting 1907-1936: The Maria and Barry King Collection," September 8, 2013-January 5, 2014, no. 9.
W.C. Agee and B. Rose, Patrick Henry Bruce, American Modernist: A Catalogue Raisonné, New York, 1979, p. 160, no. B-12, illustrated;
J. Anderson Kyle, Cézanne and American Painting 1900-1920, Ph.D. dissertation, Austin, Texas, 1995, pp. 417-34, fig. 125, illustrated.
W. Thompson, Roundup: Selected Works from Friends of the El Paso Museum of Art, exhibition catalogue, El Paso Museum of Art, El Paso, Texas, 2001, p. 12, illustrated;
W.C. Agee, Patrick Henry Bruce (1881-1936), exhibition catalogue, Salander-O'Reilly Galleries, LLC, New York, 2002.
P.S. Cable, Modern American Painting 1907-1936: The Maria and Barry King Collection, exhibition catalogue, El Paso Museum of Art, El Paso, Texas, 2013, pp. 41-44, no. 9, illustrated.
According to Dr. Patrick Shaw Cable, "Unfortunately the master colorist Patrick Henry Bruce committed suicide at age fifty-five and destroyed much of his work, so that only about one hundred of his paintings remain.
"From an old Southern family and a descendant of American statesman Patrick Henry, twenty-year-old Bruce moved from Long Island, Virginia, to New York, where he studied with William Merritt Chase and then Robert Henri. In 1903 he went to Paris...[where he] met Matisse and other artists by way of the regular Saturday salons held at the home of Gertrude Stein and her brother, Leo. By 1912 he was associating closely with the Orphists Robert and Sonia Delaunay, and remained in Paris until 1936. During the 1910s Bruce was a noted modernist figure, exhibiting at the Salons d'Automne and the Salons des Independants, and showing four works back at home in the 1913 Armory Show. The same year he was only one of four Americans--the others being Lyonel Feininger, Albert Bloch, and Marsden Hartley--invited to participate in Berlin's Grand Survey of Modern Art, at the Erster Deutscher Herbstsalon. Three years later the artist had a solo exhibition in the United States at the Montross Gallery. Ultimately, however, Bruce found limited support for his work...The painter's self-criticism, his frustration with the misunderstanding of his works, and his 1919 separation with his wife left him increasingly reclusive. Abandoning art altogether and moving to Versailles in 1933, he returned to New York in 1936 and took his own life a few months later. Art historian M. Sue Kendall has succinctly divided Bruce's oeuvre into four periods. Accordingly, his first phase lasted until about 1907 and reflected the influence of Robert Henri in its bravura brushwork and deep tonalities; this was followed by a five-year period dominated by still lifes illustrating the artist's appreciation of Cézanne and Matisse. Next, until about 1920, Bruce produced hard-edged abstractions influenced by Orphism; and the last period before his death was marked by Cubist still lifes based on architectural themes.
"Floral Still Life belong(s) within Bruce's second period, when he began to study with Matisse in 1908 and then by the next year was attracted to Cézanne. In his classic text on early modernism, Abraham A. Davidson offered a brief yet nuanced description of Bruce's dialogue with Matisse and Cézanne, noting that by 1909 the painter had replaced his enthusiasm for Matisse by 'an even greater one for Cézanne-or, more properly, Cézanne as seen through the eyes of Matisse.'
"Floral Still Life, which may have been one of the artist's pictures in the Armory Show...utilizes areas of unpainted canvas...in a limited fashion as part of its overall Cézannesque structuring. The light-hued painting is a fine illustration of the notion of Bruce's seeing Cezanne through Matisse's eyes" (Modern American Painting 1907-1936: The Maria and Barry King Collection, exhibition catalogue, El Paso Museum of Art, El Paso, Texas, 2013, pp. 41-42).
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