American Cubist Painter, 1881-1936
was an American cubist painter. A descendant of Patrick Henry, Bruce was born in Campbell County, Virginia, the second of four children. His family had once owned a huge plantation, Berry Hill, worked by over 3,000 slaves. Berry Hill is now a resort & conference center outside South Boston, Virginia and is now a National Historic Landmark. Berry Hill Estate originally was part of a 105,000-acre (420 km2) tract granted by the English Crown in 1728 to William Byrd II. The Civil War left the Bruce's wealth greatly diminished. Bruce began taking evening classes at the Art Club of Richmond in 1898, while working in a real estate office during the daytime. His earliest known extant painting dates from 1900. In 1902 he moved to New York, where he studied with William Merritt Chase, Robert Henri, and Kenneth Hayes Miller. By February 1904 he was in Paris, where he would live until 1933. Although his evolution toward a modernist style was gradual, his works of 1908 reveal the influence of Renoir and C??zanne, and in that year he was among the first to enroll in Matisse's school. Bruce exhibited regularly in the Salon d'Automne, and met many of the leading artists of the early twentieth century avant garde.