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 Kate Elizabeth Bunce  (1856 - 1927)

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Lived/Active: England      Known for: allegorical figure painting-Pre Rafaelite subjects

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Born in Birmingham in 1856, Kate Bunce was the daugher of John Thackray Bunce, newspaper proprietor and chairman of the City Art Gallery.  Early early education was at home, and in the 1880s she enrolled at the Birmingham School of Art where she was a prize-winning student. Her first works seem to have been in the direct, well-drawn manner of the Birmingham School, but she was soon drawn to the Pre-Raphaelite mode.

She first began exhibiting her work in 1874 with the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists.  Bunce exhibited from 1887 to 1912 in Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester and London including at the Royal Academy of Art beginning 1887.   In 1893 she was among the artists invited to contribute to a sequence of historical pictures for Birmingham Town Hall (now lost).  From 1888 an Associate of the Birmingham Society of Artists, she was also a founder-member in 1901 of Birmingham-based Society of Painters in Tempera.

Her two best-known works Melody and The Keepsake were chosen as "picture of the year" at the 1901 New Gallery, and her association with the Birmingham Arts and Crafts circle have led to Bunce's work being characterized as largely decorative, but her painting also displays strong figure drawing and moderated colour.

A devout Christian, she produced several decorative works for churches, often in conjunction with her sister, Myra Bunce who was a metalworker and watercolourist.  From around 1910 Kate Bunce concentrated on large-scale work for church interiors in Britain and Canada.  She lived all of her life in Edgbaston, and died in 1927 in Birmingham.

Submitted by Lonnie Pierson Dunbier


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