Very little is known about George Bunn. We don't know his
birth date or death. We don't even have a picture of him. But
what we do have is the art he left behind. Please enjoy.
He was an American artist known for marine painting
and commercial art. He was born in Brussels, Holland and moved
with his family to Utica, New York, where he spent most of his
life. At age 15, he enlisted in a New York cavalry as a bugler
to serve in the Civil War, and received a head wound that affected
the remainder of his life. After leaving the Army, he served
as a sailor on the ship, Pensacola, in the Pacific Ocean, and
then returned to Utica where he set up a sign painting business.
In his leisure he did marine painting, which he sold locally.
His painting brought him enough attention that he had offers
of sponsorship to go abroad for academic art training, "but
he preferred his bohemian life in Utica, painting signs for a
living and sketches for amusement. He was naturally indolent."
In the 1880s, he moved to Hartford, Connecticut where he took
a job with a firm of art dealers that sent him to Europe, first
to Brussels and then to Antwerp "where he found along the
docks and canals the class of subjects that suited his talent."
He also did paintings, which he sent back to Connecticut and
which then found a ready market through the firm he represented.
In1885 he officially moved to his birthplace in Brussels.
In 1887, his work was exhibited at the National Academy of Design.
In December 1893, George Bunn was sentenced to 15 years in
prison with hard labor for the murder of Anna Hoffmann, "a
young servant girl who had been employed in the house where he
lived. The girl discouraged Bunn's advances and finally left
the house." The court finding was that he learned of her
engagement to be married, and on June 5, 1893, forced his way
into her house and fatally shot her. His legal defense was that
he was subject to periods of mental aberrations from his Civil
War head wound and that during those times he was not responsible
for his actions. As a result, the jury gave him a lighter sentence
than they normally would for the commitment of this kind of crime.
(If he joined the Civil war at15 his birthdate must have been
between 1845-1849. His death, though never publicised, was probably
in jail, and most likely due to his head injury.)
If anyone has more to add to this page please contact me.
I will gladly accept any additions, whether in word or art.
"An American Artist's Crime: George Bunn Sentenced in
Antwerp for Killing a Girl."
Internet Archives of The New York Times from an article dated
December 14, 1893.
The quotes are from this article.