Archives Directory for the History of Collecting in America

Bruce, Ailsa Mellon, 1901-1969

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role Collector Patron
dates 1901-1969
city Washington
sex F
historical notes Collector and daughter of Andrew Mellon, she acted as her father's hostess in Washington and when he was ambassador to Great Britain.

In 1926 she married David K. E. Bruce, who became a distinguished diplomat and also served as the National Gallery's president (1939-1945). Ailsa and David divorced in 1945.

Mrs. Mellon Bruce established the Avalon Foundation in 1940, which, among other things, funded the Gallery's Andrew W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts.

In 1946 she designated funds for the Gallery's purchase of American art and later made possible the acquisition of many Old Masters, such as Ginevra de' Benci, the only painting by Leonardo da Vinci that is outside Europe. Along with her brother Paul, she contributed the large initial gift to finance the new East Building, but she did not live to see its groundbreaking.

Mrs. Mellon Bruce's bequest to the Gallery included an endowment fund and her own collection of paintings by French impressionists.

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updated 03/22/2024 12:09:29
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Archives/Repository Collection Title Collection Details
National Gallery of Art, Gallery Archives
2000B South Club Drive
Ailsa Mellon Bruce Papers see details...
National Gallery of Art, Gallery Archives
2000B South Club Drive
David E. (David Edward) Finley Papers, 1915-1977 see details...
National Gallery of Art, Library
2000B South Club Drive
Ailsa Mellon Bruce : vertical files. see details...

see also:
Mellon, Andrew W. (Andrew William), 1855-1937
Mellon, Paul