Margaret Bruton Biography

Margaret Bruton




Margaret Bruton, painter, muralist, and printmaker, was born on February 20, 1894, in Brooklyn, New York. Margaret was the eldest sister to Esther and Helen Bruton. Their father was Daniel Bruton a native of Dublin, Ireland and their mother was Helen Bell of Belfast, Ireland. Daniel Bruton worked for the American Tobacco Company, which brought him to San Francisco, California. Margaret Bruton was born in Brooklyn, New York because her mother wished to be close to her relatives when her baby was born.

Margaret attended public schools in Alameda, California and enrolled in the Mark Hopkins Institute of Art in San Francisco in 1913 where she studied with Frank Van Sloun. She won a scholarship to the Art Students’ League in New York where she studied with Robert Henri and Frank Vincent Dumond. During this time Margaret was living with relatives so she was able to stay for four years. In 1918, she returned to the San Francisco Bay Area to enlist in the war effort and worked for two years at Letterman Hospital in San Francisco as an occupational therapist. She lived with her sisters and mother in Alameda, California and their studio was in the attic.

She moved to Monterey, California in about 1922 because she wanted to study with the artist Armin Hansen in his open-air sketching class. Margaret became enthralled with the beauty of the area and in 1924 the family rented out their home in Alameda and moved to Monterey where they built a studio and house. Margaret would move back and forth between Monterey and Alameda but in 1944 she moved permanently to Monterey.

In 1923 she was in a group exhibition at the Los Angeles Museum, her oil winning a $100.00 prize, and another prize of $100.00 was awarded another of her oils at a show at the Santa Cruz Art League in 1925. That same year she and her sisters traveled to England, France, and Italy. Margaret remained in Paris to study for one year at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière. Upon her return to California she mounted her first solo exhibition at the Galerie Beaux Arts in San Francisco.

She traveled with her sisters, Esther and Helen, to New Mexico in 1929 and stayed for six months in Taos and Santa Fe. Upon their return they had a group exhibition at the Galerie Beaux Arts in San Francisco. This exhibition traveled to the Bullock’s Little Gallery on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles and the Weyhe Gallery in New York. In 1933, the sisters had a group exhibition of their work created in the old mining town of Virginia City at the Ilsley Galleries in the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.

In 1935 the sisters traveled with their mother to Mexico where they journeyed to Mexico City, the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, and Taxco. Upon their returned they had a group exhibition at the Danysh Galleries in San Francisco and that same year Margaret had a retrospective exhibition at the Oakland Gallery (now the Oakland Museum of California). Margaret was a member of and exhibited with the San Francisco Society of Women Artists, the Club Beaux Arts, California Society of Etchers, San Francisco Art Association, and the Progressive California Painters and Sculptors. She won numerous awards and honors for her work during her long career. Her work is in the collections of the Monterey Museum of Art, Oakland Museum of California and the San Diego Museum of Art.

Margaret Bell Bruton died on August 29, 1983, in Monterey, California.

Reference:  California Art Research. Volume Sixteen First Series, Abstract from WPA Project 2874 O.OP. 65-3-3632