Lot 375

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Patrick Henry Bruce
American, (1881 - 1937)
objects on a table, abstract still life
oil on canvas
"P.H. Bruce" written on the stretcher verso.

Biography from the Archives of askART: The following was written and submitted by Jean Ershler Schatz, artist and researcher from Laguna Woods, California.

Patrick Henry Bruce was the great-great-great grandson of the patriot Patrick Henry and was one of the most mysterious figures in American 20th century art and one of the first American abstract painters.

He was born in Long Island, Virginia in 1881, the son of Virginia gentlefolk. He came to New York in 1901 to study with William Merritt Chase and Robert Henri. Like so many of his peers he went to Paris, but unlike most of them, he remained in France. His early work, many of them portraits, reflected the influence of his American teachers, especially Henri. But by 1907, he was beginning to show the effects of modernism including the bright colors of Renoir. He met Matisse in 1908 and began studying with him, thereby completing the transformation to abstraction.

Bruce and his wife, Helen, socialized with many of the leading intellectuals such as Gertrude and Leo Stein, Man Ray, Marcel Duchamp and Matisse. But Bruce was an ambitious, austere and obsessive figure who lived and worked with almost no public recognition and destroyed much of his work before he destroyed himself. His paintings moved inexorably toward a very personal vision of ideal order, form and structure. He experimented with all forms; his still lifes of 1910 until 1912 were influenced by Cezanne, his "Compositions" of 1916 captured the fevered, jazzy tensions of Paris. The still lifes Bruce painted over and over again for the rest of his life. They did not sell and he was becoming more morose and withdrawn.

His wife Helen left him and took their twelve-year-old son with her in 1919. Bruce remained in Paris, eking out a living dealing in antiques. He returned to New York and committed suicide at the age of fifty-five in a New York hotel room.

Sources include:
Newsweek Magazine, September 3, 1979 From the internet, Artchive.com

  • 23 1/2"H x 19 1/2"W, 30 1/4"H x 26 1/4"W (frame)
  • Artist Name:
  • Patrick Henry Bruce
  • Medium:
  • oil on canvas

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December 16, 2023 11:00 AM EST
Indianapolis, IN, US

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