The daughter of John Thackray Bunce – a patron of Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery and editor of the Birmingham Post during its Liberal heyday – Bunce was born in Birmingham and educated at home. She studied at the Birmingham School of Art in the 1880s, first exhibiting artworks with the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists in 1874 and with the Royal Academy from 1887. She was elected as an associate of the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists in 1888 and many of her works were displayed in a number of Birmingham churches.
Her earliest known work is The Sitting Room (1887), and in 1893 Bunce was one of the artists invited to contribute murals to hang in Birmingham Town Hall. Her initial style was that of the Birmingham School, where she was a prizewinning student during the 1880s. Her work became increasingly influences by Burne-Jones, Rossetti and the Pre-Raphaelites, and was characterised by strong figure drawing and a clear use of colour. Later in her life she painted a series of decorative pieces in churches, often alongside metalwork by her sister Myra Bunce. She exhibited her work across England between the years 1887 and 1912 in London, Manchester, Birmingham and Liverpool. Her reredos in the church of St Alban's, Bordesley features many species of birds.
Bunce lived all of her life in Edgbaston and died unmarried. A Birmingham Civic Society blue plaque in her honour was unveiled at St Alban's church in September 2015, by the Lord Mayor of Birmingham.
- Marsh, Jan (2004). "Bunce, Kate Elizabeth (1856–1927)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Online ed.). Oxford University Press. Retrieved 2008-12-17.
- Hill, Joseph; Harper, Edward S.; Midgley, William (1929). The History of the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists, with a Chapter of personal reminiscence by Edward S. Harper. Cornish Brothers Ltd. p. 59.
- "Kate Elizabeth Bunce – Biography". ArtMagick. Retrieved 4 November 2012.
- Gaze, Delia, ed. (1997). "Bunce, Kate (Elizabeth)". Dictionary of Women Artists. Taylor & Francis. pp. 334–335. ISBN 1-884964-21-4.
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