The Art of William Bruce


“English Setter” 1909










Artist William Bruce (1861-1911) lived and worked in Auburn his entire life, becoming one of the city’s most well known and respected artists.

His early training included periods of studying in New York City and Europe, and he was mentored by George Clough and William Henry Yates, two of Cayuga County’s most notable 19th century artists. 



“Portrait of a Man” 1904

















While Bruce was best known for his paintings of dogs, he specialized in landscapes and portrait paintings early in his career.

His landscapes are in the style of the Hudson River School, with Cayuga County providing a picturesque backdrop.

We recently rediscovered this portrait by Bruce in an inventory of our painting collection. It is untitled and the man is not identified, but was painted in 1904. Who do you think it is?

“Two Setters at Point” 1908



















Many of William Bruce’s paintings were published in calendars around the turn of the 20th century.

The subject matter was almost always dogs, but he preferred English Setters, and painted them often.

This painting is currently on display in our “Explore Your History” exhibit. Come see it in person when we reopen to the public!