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 Bruce Nelson  (1888 - 1971)

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Lived/Active: California      Known for: landscape, coastal views

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Ad Code: 2
Bruce Nelson
from Auction House Records.
A Coastal View, California
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Bruce Nelson was born in Santa Clara, California in 1888 and spent most of his life in California. In 1905 he attended Stanford University as an engineering student, later changing his major to architecture. When he graduated from college he worked as an architect in San Francisco.

Nelson then traveled to New York to study at the Art Students' League in New York City, spending his summers painting with Tonalist Birge Harrison. It wasn't until 1912 that he returned to San Francisco where he had a solo exhibition at the Helgesen Galleries in 1914. He set up a studio in Pacific Grove, California, where he painted coastal landscapes and seascapes.

He earned a silver medal for his work at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco during 1915. After serving in the World War I, Nelson moved back to New York where he did some commissioned mural work. Little is known about his further involvement in art during the last twenty-five years of his life. He died in September 1971.

Source: Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"

Biography from Lawrence Beebe Fine Art:
(Ernest) Bruce Nelson was born on June 13, 1888 in Santa Clara, California. He studied at Stanford University under Robert B. Harshe, the Art Students' League of New York, and at the Woodstock Summer School (ASL) under John F. Carlson and Birge Harrison. He maintained studio locations and residences at Palo Alto, San Jose and Pacific Grove, California.

In 1912 he exhibited twenty paintings at the galleries of Helgesen & Marshall in San Francisco, and later in November 1914 he exhibited twenty-four more paintings with the same gallery. He exhibited in Los Angeles in May, 1914, and at the Oakland Art Gallery in 1916 and with the San Francisco Art Association.

In 1914, Anthony Anderson, art critic for the "Los Angeles Times" newspaper, described Nelson's works as, "lively and delicate, full of light and air, of brooding sunshine and permeating mists". Bruce Nelson painted coastal seascapes, coastal valleys, and coastal villages. The location of many of Bruce Nelson's paintings are unknown. The exact date and place of death of Bruce Nelson are unknown.

Bruce Nelson held a membership at the San Francisco Art Association, and he won the Silver Medal at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in 1915 and the Honorable Mention at the Woodstock Summer School in New York, 1911.

Biography from Edenhurst Gallery (Artists M to Z):
Ernest Bruce Nelson is a notable early California painter whose short but dedicated career spanned a brief period in the bay area of the state within the first two decades of the twentieth century. He was born in San Jose in 1888 into an artistic family. He attended Stanford University where he first studied engineering, later switching to art. After graduation from Stanford in 1913, he established a studio in Pacific Grove and taught art classes to local students.

He received rave reviews in the local press for his exhibitions at Stanford, and was hailed as a fine painter with an illustrious career ahead. He won a medal at the Panama Pacific Exposition in San Francisco in 1915, and continued to exhibit, though sparsely until about 1924. The trail mysteriously ends here, though it is now known that he did leave for New York where he pursued a career as a WPA painter, and remained in that State for the rest of his life.

He has the distinction of being the only gay early California painter of note from the classic impressionist period of the early twentienth century. He died 1952 and left a colorful and talented legacy of coastal and inland views of the Monterey Penisula and environs.

Biography from William A. Karges Fine Art - Carmel:
Bruce Nelson was a native of Northern California, and a graduate of Stanford University. Nelson further studied at the Art Students League in New York, where he developed an almost Tonal style of painting.

Returning to California in 1912, Nelson exhibited with great success, earning a silver medal at the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exhibition. Little is known of Nelson’s art after WW I, when he joined the Army Camouflage Corps. He is believed to have died in New York City in 1952.

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Bruce Nelson is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
San Francisco Panama-Pacific Exhibition 1915
California Painters

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