Bruce, George

Date and place of birth:
ca.1775, presumed Edinburgh
Date and place of death:
25 September 1846, 12 London Row, Leith
fl. 1792- ca.1845
Known places of work:
Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leith
Known techniques:
Painted on ivory and plaster
Known materials:
Ivory and plaster
Pearwood, Oval brass & Papier-mache


Rightly confident in his abilities, George Bruce proclaimed he would never charge if the end product was not an exact resemblance of the sitter. Well regarded today, one profile in the Victoria & Albert Collection currently attributed to Miers, was put forward by McKechnie as a work by Bruce. This is unsurprising, as Bruce was taught by Samuel Houghton, and new research in 2021 discovered Houghton was Miers’ own pupil.
Caledonian Mercury newspaper advertisements evidence Houghton’s sole pupil, Bruce, worked for him only between July 1791-1792, after which, Houghton became incapacitated by a malady which caused his demise by March 1793. 
An advertisement of July 1792, shows Bruce carried on the business “…in all its branches” on behalf of Houghton’s family and himself. Continuing as Houghton & Bruce, by no doubt trading on Houghton’s celebrity, the curious partnership dissolved when he wed Houghton’s widow in January 1797.
As Bruce worked for over 50 years, his style changed considerably and the few works painted after 1820 generally lack the finesse of his earlier output. Four printed trade labels are known: one records a brief stay in Glasgow ca.1797, though he remained based in Edinburgh until removing to Leith in 1833.
Painting on plaster and also ivory for jewellery settings, he consistently advertised as a miniature painter, though tellingly he is absent from reference works.  He later offered "coloured sketches” on paper and advertised as a drawing master. Though no definitive records surfaced, research strongly suggests Bruce was Edinburgh-born.
Revised 4 April 2022 (Brian Wellings)

Additional research about George Bruce:

Source: McKechnie (Author of, British Silhouette Artists and their Work 1760-1860)

Bruce, George (McKechnie Section 4)
Bruce, George (McKechnie Section 5)
Bruce, George (McKechnie Section 6)

Source: Wellings (Silhouette collector and Contributing Editor)

Bruce, George (Recent research, April 2022)

Gallery Silhouettes

Front of Silhouette, in frame, with man looking right and wearing naval uniformFront of silhouette, in frame, with woman looking left.