Anne Bruce

Painter and teacher

Thursday 07 December 2006 01:00

Anne Bruce, artist and teacher: born Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire 8 March 1927; married 1953 Patrick Reyntiens (two sons, two daughters); died Taunton, Somerset 18 October 2006.

Anne Bruce was a painter and teacher who radiated a quiet faith in her artistic vision and the capacity of others to share her inspiration. She worked mainly in oil and water-colours and her preferred subjects were nature and the landscape around her.

It was the school of Rye St Anthony in Oxford that first awakened her love of art and launched her on her way to the Slade School of Fine Art, which she entered in 1945. There she encountered Vladimir Polunin, a scene painter and designer who had worked with the Diaghilev Ballet. The experience of theatre design was to have a lasting influence.

Later she went to the Edinburgh College of Art, where she met her future husband, Patrick Reyntiens, subsequently well known as an artist in stained glass. The marriage, in 1953, was the building block for a professional collaboration and happy family life that lasted until Anne's death.

Between 1953 and 1960 Anne Bruce continued to study and paint and held several exhibitions in London and elsewhere. Three of her four children, two daughters and a son, were born during this time. In 1960 Bruce and Reyntiens set up an arts centre together at Burleighfield near High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. This led to a fruitful period of teaching and the centre acquired an international reputation for its painting instruction. Standards were high and disciplines encompassed a broad range beyond painting and drawing, including stained glass, pottery, tapestry and history of art. Pupils went from Burleighfield to some of the art world's leading teaching institutions - among them the Slade, Chelsea School of Fine Art and the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris.

Bruce played a major role at Burleighfield. She instructed a large painting class of her own and among her special accomplishments were children's classes and an innovative course she herself designed especially for mothers with small children. This provided a supervised crèche which released them from their chores for up to two hours a week.

She continued to paint and exhibited in two of the Leicester Galleries' "Artists of Fame and Promise" shows and at the Zwemmer Gallery in London in 1963. Before that she had joined David Hockney, Ron Kitaj, Peter Blake and Sandra Blow as prize-winners at John Moore's Open Exhibition of Painting and Sculpture in Liverpool.

Her fourth child, a son, was born in 1964 and she continued to work, exhibiting at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, Richard Demarco Gallery in Edinburgh, New Art Centre in Sloane Street, and the Chichester Summer Exhibition. Paris was also included with the Galerie Creuze and there was a retrospective at the Royal Free Hospital in London.

In 1982 she contributed work to the collection of 20th-century women's paintings at New Hall, Cambridge, and in 1997 she had an exhibition there. One of her works, The Field, painted in 1967 and inspired by the hill behind Burleighfield, remains on permanent display in the collection.

The Reyntiens family moved to an old farmhouse in Somerset in 1980, where Anne continued to paint, teach and exhibit. She also frequently accompanied Patrick on his professional travels abroad and visited Canada, India, Sri Lanka, the United States, Mexico and Australia with him. This led to a productive series of colourful landscapes and also water-colours, which she had taken up again with renewed interest.

Anne Bruce was born in 1927, the eldest of the five daughters of Brigadier Ian Bruce, of the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders. She drew vitality and inspiration from her firm Roman Catholic faith, which glowed undimmed in the adversity of final illness.

John Towner

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