Illustration Art Gallery

The very best from the wide, sometimes overlooked, world of illustration art, including original artwork for book illustrations and covers, comic books and comic strips, graphic novels, magazines, film animation cels, newspaper strips, poster art, album covers, plus superb fine art reproductions and high quality art prints.

Our gallery brings together artists from all over the world and from many backgrounds, including fantasy, horror, romance, science fiction, education, sport, history, nature, technology, humour, glamour, architecture, film & tv, whimsy, even political satire and caricature.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Ralph Bruce

Ralph Bruce was a talented illustrator who worked for Look and Learn in the 1960s. Until the mid-1960s he was a regular artist for The Children's Newspaper and was probably brought to the educational paper by former Children's Newspaper editor, John Davies, who took over the editorship of Look and Learn in 1965.

His artwork covered a huge range of subjects. His historical illustrations ranged from ancient Greece and Roman Britain, to the eras of Shakespeare, Caxton and modern journalism. He was particularly adept at portraits and drew everyone from Dickens to the Beatles for Look and Learn as well as contributing covers for various series, including "Famous Couples" and "When They Were Young" in the late 1960s. Some of his best work was contributed to the long-running series "The Story of Opera", penned by Robin May, which gave Bruce full scope for some imaginative scenes as well as realistic portrayals of famous opera composers of the past. At the other end of the scale, Bruce also drew a fascinating history of soccer.

Prior to working for Look and Learn, Bruce had illustrated book covers for Digit Books in the late 1950s, titles including The Deep Six by Martin Dibner, I Came Back by Krysyna Zywulska, White August by John Boland, Air Patrol Biscay by Richard T. Bickers, Horns of the Dragon by Felix Trigg, Battle of the Bulge by William M. Stokoe, The God of Channel 1 by Donald Stacy, Nor Iron Bars a Cage by W. H. Aston, all in 1957. (There was also an artist who signed his name Bruce who worked for Pan Books in 1947-49, who may or may not be Ralph Bruce.) In 1970, he illustrated two slim volumes—Ancient Egypt and Football—for Beckenham-based publisher Patterson Blick.

The only background information I have been able to discover about Bruce is that he was a member of the Chelsea Arts Club, whose available records don't go back that far. There is a Ralph Bruce listed in contemporary phone records who lived at 13 Rudall Crescent, Hampstead, London N.W.3 for many years but this may be a red herring. Although an uncommon combination of names, there are still two Ralph Bruces who died in the area: Ralph Sinclair Bruce (b. 6 November 1908 in Chorlton, Lancs.) who died in Hampstead in 1975, and Ralph George H. Bruce (b. 8 March 1885 in St. Saviour, Southwark) who died in Brent district in 1982. The latter would be a better fit for the telephone book address (which was listed between 1952 and 1982), but our artist was active in 1970, when Ralph George H. Bruce was in his mid-eighties.

Further information on Ralph Bruce would be very welcome. In the meantime, Illustration Art Gallery is pleased to offer some examples of his work for sale which reveal the talent of this almost unknown artist.

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