A Trenton, New Jersey native, George A. Bradshaw studied at the Trenton School of Industrial Arts and later taught there for many years. The school offered a variety of courses including metal shop, electrical, chemical, ceramics, auto labs, machine and architectural drafting, dressmaking, millinery, drawing, painting, modeling, and designing. It was in the Kelsey Building at the corner of West State and Barracks streets which is today the main building of the Thomas Edison State College in Trenton. Painter Henry Ryan MacGinnis (1875-1962) also taught at the school and painter Charles W. Ward (1900-1962) studied and later taught there.
Before becoming one of America’s leading art critics, Henry McBride (1867-1962) was the Director of the Trenton School of Industrial Arts. It was McBride who told Bradshaw his natural medium was drawing. After four years of drawing classes, Bradshaw did his first etching which landed him a job as an instructor at the school. He taught a drawing class, another on etching and on Saturdays a drawing class for children.
Bradshaw found his professional niche as an etcher and illustrator. His works included New Jersey scenes including Trenton and Newark and etchings of 20 colleges, including 19 scenes of nearby Princeton University. He was a member of the Brooklyn Society of Etchers, the Chicago Society of Etchers and the North Shore Artists Association. Bradshaw illustrated A History of Trenton, 1679 -1929 published by The Trenton Historical Society (1929). In the preface, it was said of Bradshaw that “Trenton possesses an artist whose pen-drawings and etchings have served to make his work favorably known beyond the confines of this locality.”
The Trenton Art Alliance, a society to stimulate a greater interest in all branches of art and to foster both fine and industrial art in Trenton, was formed in 1921. Its board of directors included Bradshaw and MacGinnis. On February 13, 1922 Bradshaw and Frank Forrest Frederick, Director, Trenton School of Industrial Arts, presented a program to the Trenton Symposium on Modern Reproductive Processes in Art, Particularly Etching. In the Newark Public Library exhibit Newark: 1666-1999, A Panorama of Prints - Artists' Views of Newark in a Gala Gathering of Graphic Art from the Special Collections of the Newark Public Library, the Bradshaw etching Newark Metropolitan Airport in the Early Years was included.
Thomas Edison State College maintains the George A. Bradshaw Collection of more than 65 original etchings. The collection features scenes of Trenton including two of Bradshaw’s favorite etchings, The Water Power and The Three Gates. The proof of the latter is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s permanent collection. The Collection also includes etchings of many now-lost Trenton landmarks. The 2012 calendar of the Trenton Historical Society’s Preservation Committee has 12 Bradshaw etchings and drawings.