Bruce, George C.
George Bruce has long been acknowledged as one of Britain’s leading traditional painters. As one of the few remaining portraitists in the European ‘grand manner’, Bruce has received commissions to paint the leading luminaries of the Church of England, the Bench of High Court Judges, Parliament, the universities and the City of London’s captains of commerce. These full scale portraits have included Lord Ramsey of Canterbury, painted first as Archbishop of York and afterwards of Canterbury; Lord Lane, when he was Lord Chief Justice; Lord Tonypandy, when he was Speaker of the House of Commons; Lord Butler of Saffron Walden, late Master of Trinity College, Cambridge and former Chancellor of the Exchequer; and Sir Campbell Adamson, as Chairman of the Abbey National Building Society and former Director-General of the Confederation of British Industry.
Bruce believes that his facility to convey texture and fleeting expressions of the human face arises from his parallel pursuit of painting landscapes, still lifes and drawings, where the rapidly changing effects of light in nature are supremely critical. As an artist Bruce strives to achieve a true likeness of his sitters – perhaps a third of whom have been women – simultaneously delineating the essence of their characters .
Born in 1930, the second son of the late Lord Balfour of Burleigh who early encouraged him in his artistic vocation and whom he memorably painted, George Bruce was educated at Westminster School and the Byam Shaw School of Drawing and Painting where the then Principal , Brian Thomas, has compared his painting in its wit, warmth and brio with that of Boldini. Others have noted the resemblance to the celebrated late Victorian society painter, John Singer Sargent. The truth is that Bruce is the conscious inheritor of a school of portraiture which traces its lineage back to the great European Masters and more particularly Titian , Rubens and Van Dyck.
Weaned on the great art galleries of Europe and America, he has fittingly played a prominent part in the Royal Society of Portrait Painters, London, for whom he has acted over a twenty-five year period as successively honorary secretary, vice-president and president. Notwithstanding these commitments he has painted portraits on location in America, Switzerland, Canada, Australia and New Zealand in each of which he has retained longstanding friendships, an integral ingredient of his approach as a portrait painter. When in England he lives and works from his well-known studio in Kensington. For above all else, painting to George Bruce should be an enjoyable experience for both painter and sitter alike, an enjoyment that will be understood and absorbed not merely by family and friends who look for the person they know so intimately, but by all those who stop to gaze and reflect.