Collection SC565 - Nell Mary Bradshaw collection

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Nell Mary Bradshaw collection

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  • Graphic material

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Physical description

56 charcoal and pastel works.

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Biographical history

Nell Mary Bradshaw was born in California in 1904. She began to paint as a child after her family moved to Coronation, Alberta.

Primarily a self-taught artist, Bradshaw also took classes from H.G. Glyde and Molly Lamb Bobak at the Victoria Art Gallery, and received additional instruction from Duncan de Kergommeaux and Herbert Seibner. Her early work was influenced by the Group of Seven, and in particular by the work of A.Y. Jackson and Tom Thomson. Later she received inspiration from the work of Paul Klee, Vincent van Gogh, Jack Shadbolt and West Coast First Nations carvers. In 1964, after the death of her husband, she devoted herself to painting on a full-time basis. Interested in recording Haida culture, Bradshaw made several trips to the Queen Charlotte Islands in the 1970s. Bradshaw was fascinated with the totem poles created by the First Nations people, and began painting them plein-air in the late 1930s. She moved to British Columbia in 1955 but it was not until 1964, after the death of her husband, that she felt that she could devote herself to painting on a full-time basis. Interested in recording Haida culture, Bradshaw made several trips to the Queen Charlotte Islands in the 1970s. Her totem paintings became well known worldwide, and British Columbia provincial anthropologist Wilson Duff considered her totem works to be of the highest calibre. Her paintings are widely collected in Canada, the United States, and abroad. She was a full member of the Federation of Canadian Artists and a member of the Alberta Society of Artists. She is also known for her wood block prints and collages. Humphrey Davy, in the Victoria Times in 1964, said of her totem paintings that, "she draws them as they are today; weather beaten, decaying and ready to topple over...but what lifts her paintings above the ordinary, is the feeling and mood she gives to her pictures. Sometimes the mood is almost tragic because it brings to the fore the passing of a glorious age of native culture."

After living in Victoria, BC, since the 1960s, Nell Bradshaw passed away in 1997 at the age of 93.

Custodial history

The portfolio was acquired at auction by the donor in 2017.

Scope and content

The collection consists of 56 charcoal and pastel works. Subjects are art school studies, landscape studies, and First Nations poles.

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Immediate source of acquisition

Gift of Joyce Piercy (Out of the Mists Gallery) via Martin Segger, June 2018.


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Requires de-acidification treatment.

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Created by JF, February 27, 2019

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