Spruce up Bruce

Important conservation work to a Victorian portrait in the museum collection is a step closer, with visitor donations being ring-fenced to raise vital funds to secure the future of the painting.

The scheme to ‘Spruce up Bruce’ is focused on the portrait of Green Howards soldier, Edward Bruce, which is currently on display in our special exhibition, Treasures in Store.

Its condition means that it has never been on display, but we hope that will not always be the case. The painting has been assessed by a conservator. Her report, part of which is also on show, describes the painting’s current condition and the repairs required.

‘… there is a heavy deposit of surface dirt covering the painting… The extent of the dirt layer can be gauged by comparing the narrow strip along the lower edge of the painting (which was originally covered by the frame’s rebate, and therefore not covered by the dirt layer) with the appearance of the rest of the painting.’

Whilst admiring the Colonel’s portrait, museum visitors can scan a QR code displayed nearby to make a donation to help fund the conservation work, which would involve delicate cleaning to reveal the original work.

Displaying the portrait as part of the Treasures in Store exhibition helps visitors explore the different ways objects end up in our care, and the responsibilities we face when looking after them.

“A phone call from a relative of Colonel Bruce was the start of this painting’s journey to the museum.
It arrived by courier in a large cardboard box. Only when we peeled back the wrapping did we get our first glimpse of him,” explains Director and Curator, Lynda Powell.  “Bruce joined the regiment in 1869. He was also a skilled cricketer and was selected for the Gentlemen against the Players match at Lords in 1872, playing against W G Grace. The oil painting has lost its frame and is slightly battered, but Colonel Bruce’s character shines through the dirt. We also have in the collection a silver candlestick; presented to Bruce as a thank you for his kindness and hospitality, so it is lovely to piece these treasures together to build a picture of the man.”

If you would like to help our efforts to Spruce up Bruce, click here to make a donation.

Plan your visit to our special exhibition, Treasures in Store.