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“I felt that I was a painter not of things but the feeling of things, the spiritual more than the earthly, poetry rather than prose.”
William Blair Bruce (8 Oct. 1859-17 Nov. 1906); Canadian painter. He studied in France and became one of Canada's first impressionist painters. He lived most of his life in France and on the island of Gotland, Sweden, where he and his Swedish wife Carolina Benedicks-Bruce created the artists estate Brucebo, which was later established as a nature reserve.
It would appear that at Brucebo, this painter from Hamilton found his ultimate subject in a distant and expansive vista that had been with him from his earliest days. The Baltic seascapes anchored his mission in the reality of nature so fundamental to his practice while simultaneously providing a timeless and universal image that, in its translation, would reach across time and space. Here, Bruce was finally seeing for himself, unfettered by expectation or ambition. Time and meditation allowed him to understand and access the Baltic view in a profound and meaningful way, echoing his assertion “when you want to know about something look at the thing itself, trace it to its source and you will know its end.”
On Nov. 17, 1906... Bruce suddenly took ill and died, cutting short a painting career in full force.... the critic and writer Alphonse Séché noted “his brush but touches the canvas and it becomes grand, profound, silent, infinite.” Significantly, Séché's comment also signals a lasting and ineffable quality in Bruce’s best work that reflects his ambition to create images that would endure. As he poignantly once mused in a letter to Benedicks, “life is so short, and art is so long.”
In 1885, 200 of his paintings en route to Canada sank in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. See www.gallery.ca/ link above.