Wylie family, 1913

Four generations: (L to R) Louisa Wylie Boisen (grandmother) holding Morton C. Bradley, Jr., Rebecca Dennis Wylie (great grandmother), Marie Boisen Bradley (mother), and Louise Bradley (sister) on the front steps of Wylie House on the occasion of Rebecca Wylie’s 100th birthday.

Morton C. Bradley Jr.

Morton C. Bradley Jr. (1912–2004) lived nearly all his life in Arlington, Massachusetts, just outside of Boston. Despite this, Bradley felt a strong family-based connection to Indiana, specifically to Indiana University.

Bradley was the great-grandson of Theophilus A.Wylie (1810–1895), who lived in Bloomington, Indiana, and actively served Indiana University for nearly fifty years as a professor of natural philosophy and chemistry, as well as periods as librarian, superintendant of grounds, and acting university president.

Theophilus was the half-cousin of Andrew Wylie, IU’s first president. After Andrew’s death, Theophilus purchased Andrew’s home in Bloomington, now known as Wylie House. Today Wylie House is owned and operated by Indiana University as a historic house museum recreating the Wylie home prior to 1860. Bradley’s grandfather, Hermann B. Boisen, was a professor of modern languages at IU. His grandmother, Elizabeth Louisa Matilda Wylie, lived at Wylie House. Bradley’s mother, Marie Louisa Boisen, grew up there.

Bradley’s father, Morton Clark Bradley, met his mother while attending Indiana University. Both graduated in 1900. Morton Sr.’s work in the railroad industry brought the family to the Boston area. Bradley’s first visit to Indiana was as a baby for the occasion of his great-grandmother’s 100th birthday. His family home in Arlington, where he lived from the age of ten until his death at 92, was full of reminders of Indiana: family antiques and portraits, a flowering cactus from Wylie House, and his father’s old IU textbooks, including several on geometry.

Bradley himself eventually attended Harvard University and remained in the Boston area, but the loyalty to IU that was so much a part of his ancestry remained, and over the years it evolved into a deeper love and appreciation, particularly for the arts at IU.

Beginning in the 1970s Bradley donated many nineteenth- and early twentieth-century American paintings to the IU Art Museum. The impressive collection named in his parents’ honor grew significantly during the 1990s with generous donations from Bradley. Before giving the collection to the museum, he personally conserved many of the works and sought authentic period frames for them.

In 1991 Bradley returned to Indiana for the exhibition of a group of paintings he had recently donated to IU Art Museum. Simultaneously, the museum opened a special exhibition of Bradley’s own work as a sculptor. This would be the first exhibition of Bradley’s geometric sculptures outside New England, and it was especially meaningful to the artist, who considered himself a Hoosier.

Bradley committed his entire estate to Indiana University upon his death in 2004. The impact of his gifts and bequest to IU has been far-reaching. In addition to major financial support for the IU Art Museum, Lilly Library, and Wylie House, Bradley’s collection of American paintings and Wylie family heirlooms, antiques, and correspondence have significantly enriched the cultural resources of the university, and contributed to knowledge of IU’s own early history.

Perhaps Bradley’s most personal gift to Indiana University was his own work as an artist. Nearly the entire body of Bradley’s fascinating work in geometric sculpture—three hundred studies and completed sculptures—is now in the campus art collection. We are honored by the opportunity to document and share his work with new audiences.