John Perceval | From Cabbage Fields to Angry Penguins

Australian artist John de Burgh Perceval was born Linwood Robert Steven South on 1st February, 1923, at Bruce Rock, Western Australia. He was the second child of Robert South (a wheat farmer) and Dorothy (née Dolton).  His parents separated in 1925 and he remained at his father’s farm until reunited with his mother in Melbourne in 1935. Following the marriage of his mother to William de Burgh Perceval, he changed his name to John and adopted the surname de Burgh Perceval.

In 1938, John Perceval contracted polio and was hospitalised, giving him the opportunity to further his skills at drawing and painting. Enlisting in the army in 1941, Perceval first met and befriended Arthur Boyd. After leaving the army and moving into the Boyd family home, “Open Country“, at Murrumbeena, he married Boyd’s younger sister Mary in 1944. They had four children Matthew, Tessa, Celia and Alice.

  • Perceval was the last surviving member of a group known as the Angry Penguins who redefined Australian art in the 1940s. Other members included John and Sunday Reed, Joy Hester, Sidney Nolan, Arthur Boyd and Albert Tucker.

Perceval held his first solo exhibition at the Melbourne Book Club in 1948 and showed regularly with the Contemporary Art Society. Between 1949-1955 he concentrated on producing earthenware ceramics and helped to establish the Arthur Merric Boyd Pottery in Murrumbeena. Returning to painting in 1956, Perceval produced a series of images of Williamstown and Gaffney’s Creek.

Moving to England in 1963, Perceval held solo exhibitions in London and travelled to Europe, before returning to Australia in 1965 to take up the first Australian National University Creative Fellowship. His first major retrospective exhibition was held at Albert Hall, Canberra, in 1966. Suffering from alcoholism and schizophrenia in 1974, Perceval was admitted to Larundel, psychiatric hospital, in suburban Melbourne, where he remained until 1981.

  • John Perceval: A Retrospective Exhibition of Paintings was held at Heide Park and Art Gallery in 1984. Perceval was awarded Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 1991, the year after the National Gallery of Victoria organised another retrospective exhibition.

Perceval’s last exhibition was held on 19 August-19 October,2000 at Galeria Aniela Fine Art Gallery and Sculpture Park which included 80 oil paintings and works on paper from 1946 -1999. Perceval died just four days short of the end of the retrospective, on 15th October, 2000. He is survived by his four children, all of whom are artists today.

Images included:
Mirka’s Studio 1961. Oil on canvas on composition board 76.2cm x 101.6cm
Boy in the Night 1985. Oil on canvas and composition board 51cm x 61cm
Cabbage Field Oakleigh c. 1948. Oil on canvas, 54 x 84.5 cm.
Tucker Outer 1971. Oil on canvas 35.5cm x 45.5cm
The Market Garden. Oil on canvas 81.5cm x 102cm 

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John Perceval by Margaret Plant. Lansdowne Australian Art Library: Melbourne, 1971
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Mary’s Salvation and Legacy to All

Painter, potter, ceramic decorator and photographer, Mary Elizabeth Boyd, was born in Murrumbeena, Victoria, in 1926. Mary was a member of the Boyd family artistic dynasty which includes painters, sculptors, architects and other arts professionals, commencing with Boyd’s grandfather Arthur Merric Boyd, Boyd’s father William Merric and mother Doris (nee Gough), uncles Penleigh Boyd and Martin Boyd. Mary was the youngest sibling of:

Mary Boyd grew up with her creative siblings, at their home ‘Open Country‘, in the Melbourne south-eastern  suburb of Murrumbeena, on what was then considered the rural outskirts of Melbourne. From an early age she appears as a subject in numerous paintings by her brother, Arthur Boyd (as shown above) and as a model for her other brother Guy’s sculptural work; and later for painter, potter, sculptor, and close family friend, John Perceval’s densely populated paintings.

She married Perceval, in November, 1944. They met through her brother Arthur. He and Perceval were friends who went on, like their contemporary, Sidney Nolan, to be members of the Angry Penguins group of avant-garde Australian artists and writers. Together, Mary and John Perceval had four children: Matthew, Tessa, Celia and Alice who all became painters.  Their marriage was a difficult one, as Perceval battled alcoholism and schizophrenia throughout his life.

After their divorce, Mary married the famous Australian painter Sir Sidney Nolan, in 1978, becoming Lady Mary Nolan. Their marriage was less than two years after the suicide of Nolan’s second wife Cynthia, and love affair with Sunday Reed at Heide Gallery. Sidney and Mary’s marriage caused a rift with Nolan’s friend, the author Patrick White, who criticised him for the speed with which he moved on, in his memoir, Flaws in the Glass.

Mary and Sidney Nolan, established the Sidney Nolan Trust at their estate The Rodd, in Wales, United Kingdom, where they welcomed many Australian artists and members of the art world, but they never lost contact with Australia.

  • Together with her siblings, Mary gifted a large number of works by their father William Merric Boyd to the Australian national collections. It was her way of recognising their father’s achievement, as well as being a family tradition, of making artistically inspired philanthropic contributions to the nation.
  • Mary’s legacy and salvation continued through her enduring passion and commitment to the visual arts, by allowing Australian galleries to promote the images of Sidney Nolan’s works.

After Sidney Nolan’s death in 1992, Mary relinquished her Australian citizenship, but continued to pursue Sidney Nolan’s legacy and in 2004 she won a bitter Supreme Court dispute with his adopted daughter, Jinx Nolan, over the ownership of his works.

  • Lady Mary Nolan died peacefully at The Rodd in Wales in 2016, at the age of 89. She is survived by her four children from her marriage to John Perceval.

Artwork by Mary Boyd – Abandoned Miner’s Hut (1956) and Arthur Boyd’s – Mary Boyd portrait.

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David Fielding and Frolicking in the Woods

Famous Melbourne born artist, David Fielding Gough Boyd was born on 23rd August, 1924. David Boyd was the fourth child of William Merric Boyd, a potter, and his wife Doris (née Gough), a painter. The Boyd family’s artistic dynasty includes painters, sculptors, architects and other arts professionals, commencing with David’s grandfather, Arthur Merric Boyd, and uncles Penleigh Boyd, and Martin Boyd. David’s sibling were:

Like many other Boyd family members, David Boyd studied art within the family, before entering the Melba Memorial Conservatorium of Music in Melbourne at the age of seventeen. After one year, David was conscripted into the army. Upon his return, he studied art at the National Gallery of Victoria School on an ex-serviceman’s grant. In 1946, he worked with his brother Guy at the Martin Boyd Pottery in Sydney. He also established a pottery studio in London in the early 1950s and continued working mainly in pottery through to the mid-1960s.

In 1956, Boyd and his wife Hermia (nee Lloyd-Jones), became widely known as leading Australian potters. Married in 1948, they introduced new glazing techniques and potter’s wheel use in shaping sculptural figures. Hermia was born in Sydney in 1931, the daughter of graphic artist Herman and Erica Lloyd-Jones. Hermia’s career included being a potter, painter, decorator, artist, stage designer and later became the decorator of David’s pottery. They had three children:

  • Amanda, painter and costume designer
  • Lucinda, model and painter, and
  • Cassandra, painter and illustrator

David’s painting career began in 1957.  He joined the Antipodeans Group in the 1950s. He discovered a technique in 1966 known as Sfumato, which is one of the painting modes of the Renaissance, and is a painting technique for softening the transition between colours, mimicking an area beyond what the human eye is focusing on, or the out-of-focus plane. It was named after da Vinci’s usage of the word to describe graduations of smoky tones in his paintings. David’s method achieved this effect through a new technique involving candle flame. He and his family moved to Rome in 1961, and later moved to London. They also spent several years creating art in Spain and the south of France before returning permanently to Australia in 1975.

  • David Boyd was artist-in-residence at the School of Law, Macquarie University, Sydney from 1993–1996. He died on 10th November, 2011.

The images included here are:

  • Sunday Picnic (oil on canvas 81.5cm x 91.5cm)
  • Reaching for the Blossom (oil on board 43.5cm x 49.5cm)
  • Hide and Seek (oil on board 19.5cm x 17cm)
  • By the Mountain Stream (oil on canvas 39.5cm x 34cm)
  • Angel (oil on composition board 32cm x 26.5cm)

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Source: McCulloch Alan. Encyclopedia of Australian Art. Hutchinson Richmond 1977
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Guy’s bowls and sporting women

Australian potter and figurative sculptor Guy Martin à Beckett Boyd was born in Murrumbeena, Victoria, on 12 June, 1923. Guy was a member of the Boyd family artistic dynasty which includes painters, sculptors, architects and other arts professionals, commencing with Boyd’s grandfather Arthur Merric Boyd, Boyd’s father William Merric and mother Doris (nee Gough), uncles Penleigh Boyd and Martin Boyd, and brothers Arthur Merric and David, both painters; along with Mary Boyd, his sister and also a painter, who married first John Perceval, and then later Sidney Nolan, both Australian artists.

Guy is the brother of:

Initially, Guy was a potter, establishing both Martin Boyd Pottery and later Guy Boyd Pottery. These studios produced a wide range of modernist objects from housewares to decorative pieces which enjoyed strong commercial success (such as the bowls featured above). In 1965, Guy abandoned commercial pottery and made sculpture his full-time career. As a sculptor and designer, he was noted for his ability to capture the fluidity and sensuality of the female form. Guy’s first one man exhibition was held at the Australiana Gallerie in February, 1965.

Guy’s commissions include sculptures in both Melbourne and Sydney’s international airports, Caulfield Town Hall, the Commonwealth Bank and he has works in the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. Guy continued to exhibit in Australia, England, Canada, and the United States. In 1968 he won a Churchill Fellowship to study art overseas. Guy migrated to Canada with his wife and four younger children, settling in Toronto in 1975, but returned to live in Australia five years later and was appointed to the position of Art Advisor to Deakin University, in 1988. Guy pursued other interests including:

  • Australian Co-ordinator of ‘Save Lindy Chamberlain’ and wrote the book Justice in Jeopardy in her defence.
  • President of the Brighton Foreshore Protection Committee, which he founded. There is a plaque commemorating his achievements in preserving the Brighton Foreshore erected on the beach at Brighton, Victoria.
  • President of the Port Phillip Protection Society and was arrested campaigning against the damming of the Franklin River in Tasmania.

Guy married Phyllis Emma Nairn. They had seven children: Lenore (1953–), Sally (1955- ), Derry Catherine (1957–), Kirstin Doris (1960–), Ben, Charlotte Beatrice Magdalen (1968–), and Martin Duncan Gough Boyd (1970–).

  • Guy Boyd died on 26 April, 1988, from coronary atherosclerosis and was buried with Anglican rites in the Brighton Cemetery. His wife, Phyllis, and their five daughters and two sons, survived him.

The sculptures featured include:

  • Australian Tennis Player (1975) Bronze sculpture, Ian Potter Museum of Art, the University of Melbourne, gift of the artist in 1976
  • Swimmer Entering the Water donated to the City of Caulfield by the Boyd family in memory of Guy Boyd 1990. Situated outside the Glen Eira Sports and Aquatic Centre (GESAC) pool, Bentleigh East.
  • Sally (Second Portrait) 1970 cast 1977 Bronze bust 31cm

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Source:  Scarlett, R. Australian Sculptors. Thomas Nelson, Melbourne 1980 and Von Bertouch, Anne and Hutchins, Patrick. ‘Guy Boyd.’ Lansdowne Press, 1976.
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Jamie | A Fourth Generation of Boyd

International and Australian artist, Jamie Patrick Boyd, was born at ‘Open Country‘, the house of his father and grand-father, in the Melbourne south-eastern suburb of Murrumbeena; on 19 November, 1948. Jamie is considered, the most important ‘living’ artist of the Boyd family.

Jamie Boyd belongs to the renowned artistic Boyd dynasty, which began in 1886, with the marriage of Emma Minnie (nee à Beckett) and Arthur Merric Boyd Senior (1862-1940). Spanning over four generations, the Boyd family holds a distinguished place in the arts in Australia, particularly in the fields of painting, sculpture, ceramics, literature and architecture.

Jamie is the second child of Arthur Merric Bloomfield Boyd (1920–1999), painter, and  Yvonne (nee Lennie) also a painter. His two siblings are:

  • Polly Boyd (1946–), artist and painter; and
  • Lucy Ellen Boyd, painter

With his family, Jamie moved to London, England, in 1959. Jamie graduated from the Academy of Art and Design at the public school in London. At the Central School of Art and Design, he studied fine art and composition in addition to classical music.

  • Coached by his father, Jamie began his artistic career painting landscapes of Hampstead Heath and the English countryside.
  • He won a Painting Award, which allowed him to study at the Foundation Michael Karolyi, in Vence, France.
  • Back in Australia, sixteen year old Jamie held his first solo art exhibition at Bonython Galleries, in Adelaide, South Australia, in 1966.
  • The following year, in 1967, the seventeen year old, exhibited at the Australian Galleries, in Melbourne, and after that, Jamie embarked on a full-time career as an artist and subsequently held exhibitions throughout Australia, Italy, Germany, The Netherlands and England.

Jamie is an enthusiastic painter of the landscape and the figure, who has gained international standing for his distinctive style and creative talent. His works often evoke the atmosphere of the English countryside where he spent his youth.

In 1978, Jamie and his family spent a year living by the Shoalhaven River in New South Wales, where, like his father, the river and the rock faces became the focus of some exceptionally beautiful paintings; with tranquil landscape, which often have a dream-like quality. Jamie is equally accomplished across a wide variety of mediums, including, pencil, gouache, pastel and oils on canvas and board.

Jamie regularly travels from London to work at Shoalhaven, at the former family home, Bundanon, which his parents, Arthur and Yvonne Boyd donated to the Australian public in 1993. Known as the Bundanon Trust it is now a public art museum which contains artworks from the Boyd family art collection.

  • Discover more about Jamie Boyd’s art at the Galeria Aniela website.

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From Brides and Skates | To Statues and Fridges

Famous Melbourne born artist, Arthur Merric Bloomfield Boyd, AC, OBE, was born on 24th July, 1920, at the family house ‘Open Country‘, in Murrumbeena, in Victoria. Arthur Boyd was the second child of William Merric Boyd, a potter, and his wife Doris (née Gough), a painter. The Boyd family’s artistic dynasty includes painters, sculptors, architects and other arts professionals, commencing with Arthur’s grandfather, Arthur Merric Boyd, and uncles Penleigh Boyd, and Martin Boyd. Arthur Merric Bloomfield Boyd was the brother of :

  • Lucy Evelyn Gough Boyd (1916–2009), painter and ceramic decorator
  • Guy Martin à Beckett Boyd (1923–1988), early poet, potter and sculptor
  • David Fielding Gough Boyd (1924–2011), potter and painter; and
  • Mary Elizabeth Boyd (1926–2016), painter, potter and photographer.

With no formal training, except for cursory attendance at the Melbourne National Gallery School night classes for one year, Arthur Boyd’s formal education ended in 1934, when he was fourteen. He went to work in his uncle Ralph Madder’s paint factory, after which he earned a living as a builder’s and carpenter’s assistant. Two years later, in 1936, Arthur’s grandmother Emma Minnie (nee a’Beckett) died. He went to live with his grandfather Arthur Merric Boyd, who, for three years, nurtured young Arthur’s artistic talent, at Rosebud, on the Mornington Peninsula. His early paintings were portraits and of seascapes of Port Phillip.

Arthur became a leading Australian painter during the late 20th century. He moved to the inner city, where he was influenced by his contact with European refugees. Reflecting this move in the late 1930s, Arthur’s work moved into a distinct period of depictions of fanciful characters, in urban settings. His work ranges from Impressionist renderings of Australian landscape, to starkly Expressionist figuration; and many canvases feature both styles.

Arthur was conscripted in 1941, and served with the Cartographic Unit until 1944. Following the war, Boyd, together with John Perceval founded a workshop at Murrumbeena, and turned his hand to pottery, ceramic painting and sculpture.

  • Arthur was a member of the Antipodeans, a group of Melbourne painters, that also included, Perceval, Clifton Pugh, David Boyd, John Brack, Robert Dickerson and Charles Blackman.
  • In the 1940s, Arthur became an active member of the Angry Penguins, artistic and literary group. The aim of Angry Penguins was to challenge the conventions of art-making in Australia and introduce a radical modernism that represented a new language of painting in Australia. Some of the artistic painters who were members of this movement included Perceval, Sidney Nolan, Danila Vassilieff, Albert Tucker and Joy Hester.

In the late 1940s and early 1950s, Arthur traveled to Victoria’s Wimmera country and to Central Australia including Alice Springs and his work turned towards landscape paintings. During this period, perhaps his best-known work comes from his Love, Marriage and Death of a Half-Caste Bride series which reflected his observations of the indigenous first nation’s people of the Australian outback. Above are five paintings from The Bride series (1957-1959) including; The Frightened Bridegroom, The Ghost, The Wedding Group, The Bridegroom Drinking From a Lake, and Bridegroom Waiting For His Bride To Grow Up. First exhibited in Melbourne in April 1958, the series met a mixed reaction, as it did later that year in Adelaide and Sydney.

Arthur married Yvonne Lennie, a fellow painter and former student and drawing prize winner from the Melbourne National Gallery School. They had three children:

    • Polly Boyd (1946–), artist and painter
    • Jamie Patrick Boyd (1948–), painter and sculptor; and
    • Lucy Ellen Boyd, a painter.

The family moved to Bundanon on the Shoalhaven River, which became a constant inspiration for Arthur’s work over the 1980s and 1990s; and a stage for the very large paintings such as Bathers with Skate and Halley’s Comet (1985) Large Skate on a Grey Background (1979) and Australian Skategoat (1987) which were part of the Bundanon Trust exhibition which travelled around Australian galleries in 1994, including the Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery.

  • In 1993, Arthur and Yvonne Boyd gifted to the people of Australia, the family property at Bundanon. Held in trust, they later gifted further property, artwork, and the copyright to all of his artworks. Arthur Merric Bloomfield Boyd died on 24th April, 1999.

May his soul be skating away, on the thin ice of the new day

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Sources: McCulloch Alan. Encyclopedia of Australian Art. Hutchinson: Richmond, 1977 and Arthur Boyd 30 Paintings 1985-1994. Australian Galleries, Paddington NSW, 1994.
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Here’s Lucy

Lucy Boyd | Girl With a Pot (1972)

Lucy Boyd | Girl With a Pot (1972)

Born into the famous Australian Boyd dynasty of artists, Lucy Evelyn Gough Boyd was born on 27 August, 1916, in Murrumbeena, Victoria. Lucy Boyd was the first child of William Merric (aka Merric), a potter and Doris Lucy Eleanor Bloomfield (nee Gough) Boyd a painter. Lucy is the eldest sister of:

  • Arthur Merric Bloomfield Boyd (1920–1999), painter,
  • Guy Martin à Beckett Boyd (1923–1988), early poet, potter, sculptor,
  • David Fielding Gough Boyd (1924–2011), potter, painter, and
  • Mary Elizabeth Boyd (1926–2016), early age painter and potter and later, a photographer

The family lived at their home, named “Open Country“, in the Melbourne inner south-eastern suburb of Murrumbeena. Lucy Boyd became a painter and ceramic decorator. The image shown above, Girl With a Pot, was painted by Lucy, in 1972. It features in the biographical work Day of My Delight, by her uncle Martin Boyd, published in 1979. She married Hatton Beck (1901–1994), a ceramist, potter and sculptor. Together, they had three children:

  • Laurence Hatton Beck (1940– ), layman, wayfarer and journeyman
  • Robert Hatton Beck (1942– ), potter and ceramist, who married Margot Gardner (daughter of painter Freidl Gardner) and have two children; and
  • Paul Hatton Beck (1948–), a musician

Lucy and and Hatton Beck took over the family pottery studio at Murrumbeena, and held an exhibition of pottery in 1961.

  • Lucy Evelyn Gough Beck (nee Boyd) passed away on 8 April, 2009, in Melbourne, Victoria.

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Source: Boyd, Martin. Day of My Delight: An Anglo-Australian Memoir. Lansdowne Press: Dee Why West, 3rd ed. 1979
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Read | About Helen à Beckett Boyd

Australian artist and print-maker, Helen à Beckett Boyd was born on 7 April, 1903, at Sandringham, Victoria; the youngest, and the only daughter, of Arthur Merric Boyd and Emma Minnie (nee à Beckett) Boyd. The family consisted of five children, and she was one of the four of whom became prominent in the Australian artistic world. Helen was the sister of:

  • John Gilbert à Beckett Boyd (1886–1896) who was killed in a riding accident.
  • William Merric Boyd (1888–1959), a potter, who married Doris Gough (1889–1960), a fellow painter.
  • Theodore Penleigh Boyd (1890–1923), painter, who married Edith Susan Gerard Anderson, and
  • Martin à Beckett Boyd (1893–1972), writer.

As Helen à Beckett Read, she has exhibited widely throughout Victoria.  Helen is considered to be a traditional painter, who did not start her career until later in life. Her art style in Nocturne (pictured above) can be described as Contemporary Impressionism, as the use of a tonal colour palette; and the style of brushstrokes, are Impressionistic; while the style of the landscape depiction is contemporary. Nocturne is part of the collection of the Wangaratta Art Gallery, in Victoria.

  • Helen à Beckett Boyd married Neven Robinson Read, on 16 January, 1935, at South Yarra, Victoria.
  • The Reads had four children: Gayner Lucinda (a painter) (1936-1988), Susan (now Susan Easton 1938- ) Andrew (1942- ) and Prudence Read (1947- ).

Neven Read was born on 10 December, 1903, at Bedooba Station, Cobar, in New South Wales (NSW); and was educated at Grange School, Melbourne; Royal Australian Naval College, Jervis Bay, NSW; and at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich, England. His naval career included Cadet Midshipman, Midshipman, Lieutenant, Lieutenant Commander, through to Acting Commodore. He commanded the following ships: HMAS Tattoo (1935); HMAS Vampire (1936); HMAS Doomba (1940); HMAS Bingera (1941); HMAS Kybra (1942); HMAS Warrnambool (1943); HMAS Stuart (1944); HMAS Gascoyne (1944); HMAS Whyalla (1944); HMAS Ballarat (1945) and was a Senior Officer, 21st Minesweeping Flotilla in 1945.

  • Neven Robinson Read died on 8 January, 1977 at Henty, NSW; and Helen à Beckett Read passed away on 1 June, 1999, in Wagga Wagga, NSW, Australia.

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Martin Boyd | A Difficult Young Man

Australian writer, Martin à Beckett Boyd, was born on 10 June, 1893, in Lucerne, Switzerland, into the à Beckett-Boyd family. He was the youngest son of Arthur Merric Boyd and Emma Minnie (nee à Beckett) Boyd, who were both established Australian artists. Martin Boyd’s siblings included the potter William Merric Boyd, and painters Theodore Penleigh Boyd; and, Helen à Beckett Read (née Boyd). In 1893, the family was travelling through Europe, using a family inheritance from the à Beckett family. Martin regarded his birthplace in Europe, as one of the reasons for his lifelong inability to feel at home, anywhere.

  • On return to Melbourne, the Boyd family lived in Sandringham, and later at the family farm at Yarra Glen, Victoria. Martin attended Trinity Grammar School, in the Melbourne eastern suburb of Kew, where he developed a passion for English poetry and edited the school magazine, The Mitre. After completing school in 1912, Martin was undecided on a career path and commenced study for a religious vocation, at St John’s College, St Kilda. He did not see out the year, so by suggestion of his mother, Martin began training as an architect for Purchas and Teague in Melbourne.

Martin travelled to England, and in 1916, became a commissioned officer in the Royal East Kent Regiment, known as the “Buffs“. After fighting in the trenches in France, during World War One (WWI), in 1916, Martin requested a transfer; and was accepted into the Royal Flying Corps, in 1917; where he stayed until the end of the War.

  • Martin returned to Australia after WWI, but found he no longer fitted in. Listless and directionless, he left Melbourne in 1921, to live in London, where he did some newspaper work and travelled.  Martin was a sensitive, private and complex man, who struggled with his identity as an Anglo-Australian, as an expatriate writer; and, religion. He was a loyal family man and friend, yet never found a lasting romantic relationship of his own. Martin was intensely involved in family life, and took a keen interest in the development of his nephews and nieces, and their families.

After the death of his brother Penleigh, in 1923, Martin again turned to religion, joining an Anglican-Franciscan community in Dorset. This too was a phase, and he left, and continued on as before. For almost 20 years, Martin lived a nomadic life, never staying long in any place, and owning few possessions. He survived financially on one hundred pounds a year from his parents; a short stint as acting editor of The British Australasian; and sporadic payments from his writing.

  • In 1928, Martin won the Australian Literature Society (ALS) Gold Medal for his novel The Montforts. The novel, written under the pseudonym Martin Mills, is based on the history of his à Beckett-Boyd ancestors.

Martin became a novelist, memoirist, and poet and wrote from experience and about what he knew intimately. Throughout his life, he felt like an outsider, whether in Australia or Europe. Often described as a witty author, Martin’s work drew heavily on his life and family, and through his novels, he has been recognised as one of the most important Australian novelists of the 20th century.

His works written under the pseudonym of Martin Mills include:

  • Love Gods (1925), Bangrane: A Memoir (1926), and The Madeleine Heritage (1928). This is the American edition of The Montforts, (1928) [which he later changed authorship from Mills, to his birth name Martin Boyd]

The following series of novels were written in England:

  • Scandal of Spring (1934), The Lemon Farm (1935), The Painted Princess (1936), The Picnic (1937), Night of the Party (1938), Nuns in Jeopardy (1940), Lucinda Brayford (1946) and Such Pleasures (1949)

After the success of Lucinda Brayford, Martin returned to Australia in 1948, intending to remain living in his maternal grandfather à Beckett’s home, ‘The Grange‘, near Berwick. After three years, he left again for England, in 1951, disappointed by his dream of ‘The Grange‘, and the past; ignored by the Australian literary establishment; and out of touch with his younger relatives.

The Langton tetralogy which, though not published as a series during his lifetime, is now referred to as a collective and include:

  • The Cardboard Crown (1952), A Difficult Young Man (1955), Outbreak of Love (1957), and When Blackbirds Sing (1962)
  • In 1957, Martin won another ALS Gold Medal award, this time for A Difficult Young Man. 

Martin suffered from ill health for the last decade of his life. Now living in Rome, Italy; he was astonished to get an official letter from Canberra, a few days before Christmas 1971. The Commonwealth Literary Fund, had awarded him $1000, and a life pension of $30 a week; out of regard for his part in the development of the literature of Australia.

Martin Boyd died from cancer on 3 June, 1972, just days after being received into the Catholic Church. Despite this, he was buried near the poets John Keats and Percy Bysse Shelley in Rome’s Protestant ‘English Cemetery‘.

  • The two images featured: a sketch Athlete’s Head (1963) by Martin Boyd and Rosebud (1939) by Arthur Boyd, feature in Martin’s autobiography Day of My Delight: An Anglo-Australian Memoir

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Source: Boyd, Martin. Day of My Delight: An Anglo-Australian Memoir. Lansdowne Press: Dee Why West, 3rd ed. 1979
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Edith Boyd | The Green Parasol and Nasturtiums

Australian artist, dramatist, and painter, Edith Susan Gerard Anderson (later, Edith Susan Boyd) was born on 16 February, 1880, in Brisbane, Queensland. She was the daughter of John Gerard Anderson, the head of the Department of Public Instruction, and Edith Sarah Wood. Her brother Arthur was a prominent doctor, and her eldest sister Maud was one of the first women to graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree, from the University of Sydney, making her possibly Queensland’s first female university graduate.

Edith Anderson attended the Slade School in London in 1905, and also lived in Paris, modeling for the Australian artist Emanuel Phillips Fox. Anderson lived with Phillips Fox and his wife, Ethel Carrick Fox, at their Paris studio-home in the Cité fleurie, 65 Boulevard Arago, in Montparnasse, south of the Luxembourg Gardens. Phillips Fox gave Anderson painting lessons based on the Impressionistic style, that he learned when he attended the National Gallery School in Melbourne (1878-1886).

As a model, Anderson was known for her bright red hair, which features in many of Phillips Fox’s works. Many of the paintings she modeled for, were painted in-situ, in the small central courtyard, located in the Phillips Fox studio-apartment.  She appeared in up to seven possible paintings in 1912, including The Green Parasol, On the Balcony, Nasturtiums, and Mrs. Penleigh Boyd. 

  • Anderson met her husband, Australian painter Theodore Penleigh Boyd, during this trip to Paris. Phillips Fox introduced Penleigh Boyd to Anderson, when Boyd worked in the studio next door to them.
  • Boyd and Anderson married in Paris, on 15 October 1912; with Anderson being ‘given away’ by Fox because of their close friendship. Notable guests at the Anderson-Boyd wedding include Rupert Bunny and Bessie Gibson.
  • In 1912, following their wedding, Edith Susan Boyd (as she was now to be known) and Penleigh Boyd took their honeymoon to Chartres, Mentone, Rome, Florence, and Venice.
  • In 1913, the couple then returned to Melbourne, Australia where their first child, Pamela Boyd, was born, but sadly died two weeks later.

In 1914, the couple moved to Warrandyte, where Penleigh Boyd built the couple a home studio, known as “The Robins”. Edith Boyd gave birth to her second child, John a Beckett Boyd (1915–1980), known as Pat Boyd, in 1915.

In 1917, Penleigh Boyd enlisted in the First Australian Imperial Force (AIF). He was gassed in Ypres, in 1917, and was left with lasting physical problems. Edith reunited with Penleigh after he was sent to England; and then later repatriated to Australia, in March, 1918. On 3 January, 1919, Edith gave birth to their second son, Robin Boyd (1919–1971) at Armadale, Melbourne. [Robin Boyd became an influential Australian architect, writer, teacher, and social commentator].

In 1922, the Boyd’s sold “The Robins“, and moved to Sydney. Penleigh was hired by Sydney Ure Smith, as one of the organizers of a major exhibition of contemporary European art. Because of this opportunity, the Boyd’s moved to England to select paintings for this exhibition. Penleigh returned to Australia without Edith and the children, in June, 1923, due to tumultuous marriage troubles. It was during this separation, that he cheated on Edith, by having a brief affair with Minna Schuler, a Melbourne socialite, who was the daughter of the editor of The Age newspaper.

  • Before Edith and the children returned to Australia, Penleigh bought back “The Robins“, and purchased a new Hudson car.
  • On 24 November, 1923, Edith met Penleigh at the Port Melbourne shipping terminal; however, the couple began to argue immediately.
  • On 28 November 1923, Penleigh Boyd died when he crashed his Hudson car, whilst speeding, near Warragul, in Victoria, on his way to Sydney.
  • Penleigh Boyd is was buried at the Brighton Cemetery in Victoria.

After Penleigh’s death, Edith began writing dramas that were staged by repertory companies, as well as radio plays, for the Australian Broadcasting Commission. Following the sale of  “The Robins“, Edith moved to one of the oldest apartment blocks in Toorak. She later bought a house in Malvern East in 1927. Edith Susan Boyd died in the Melbourne suburb of East Burwood, on 31 March, 1961.

Three of Emmanuel Phillips Fox’s portraits of Edith were held by the Boyd family, including his Belle Époque period portrait of Edith, Nasturtiums (1912). This work was purchased in 2011 at an auction by the Society of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, serving as a memorial to Margaret Olley, a renown Sydney artist and patron of the gallery, who died a few months earlier.

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Source: Boyd, David. An Open House: Recollections of My Early Life (2012)
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Penleigh Boyd | From Penleigh House

British born Australian landscape artist, Theodore Penleigh Boyd was born on 15 August, 1890, at Penleigh House, Westbury, Wiltshire in England. Penleigh Boyd was a member of the Boyd artistic dynasty and he received his artistic training from his artist parents, Arthur Merric Boyd (1862–1940), and Emma Minnie Boyd (née à Beckett), and at the National Gallery Art School. His brothers included the ceramicist and potter, Merric Boyd (1888–1959); the novelist Martin Boyd, (1893–1972), and; sister Helen Read à Beckett Boyd (1903–1999), who also painted.

Penleigh had his first exhibition at the Victorian Artists’ Society at 18, and exhibited at the Royal Academy, in London, at 21. He won second prize in the Australian Government’s competition, for a painting of the site of the new national capital, Canberra. He also won the Wynne Prize, in 1914, with Landscape. Penleigh had a talent for the handling of evanescent effects of light, which he may have learned from fellow artist, Emmanuel Phillips Fox, who introduced him to plein air techniques, when they were neighbours in Paris, in 1912–1913.

  • Penleigh had travelled to Europe in 1911. He met Queensland-born, Edith Susan Gerard Anderson, a model for Phillips Fox’s paintings; and Penleigh and Edith married in Paris, on 15 October, 1912. The couple returned to Australia in 1913, and settled in Melbourne.
  • Edith was a skilled painter, and also came from a cultivated family. Her father had been Director of the Queensland Department of Public Instruction. Her brother Arthur, was a prominent doctor, and her eldest sister Maud, was one of the first women to graduate with a Bachelor or Arts degree, from the University of Sydney.
  • Their first child, Pamela, was born in the spring of 1913, but she died two weeks later.

In 1914, with his painting career flourishing, Penleigh purchased a block of land at Warrandyte, and built a family home and studio, naming it “The Robins“. The Boyd’s second child John á Beckett Boyd (known as Pat) was born in 1915. Soon after, Penleigh enlisted and served with the Mining Corps of AIF during World War I. Unfortunately, Penleigh was gassed and injured at Ypres, in 1917, which left him with lasting physical problems. He was invalided back to England, and repatriated to Australia, in March, 1918.

The Boyd’s second son Robin Gerard Penleigh Boyd, was born in January, 1919. Penleigh continued to paint prolifically for the rest of his life, although his war service also left permanent psychological scars. In 1922, he sold “The Robins“, and moved the family to Sydney. Penleigh was invited to help organise a major exhibition of contemporary European art, to be staged in Australia, so, he and his family travelled to England to select various artworks. Penleigh returned to Australia on his own, to set up the exhibition; leaving his family back in England.

At the end of the exhibition, Penleigh became disillusioned with his work, and he destroyed many of his lesser paintings, and sold some of his better ones. During this period, whilst his wife and family were still overseas, he carried an open affair with Minna Schuler, the daughter of the editor of The Age newspaper. Shortly before Edith and the children returned to Australia, Penleigh bought back “The Robins” as well as purchasing a new Hudson car. He met his family off the ship, at Port Melbourne, on their return, but he and Edith quarrelled almost immediately.

  • On 27 November, 1923, for unknown reasons, Penleigh drove in the Hudson, to Sydney. Although a skilled driver, he lost control on a sharp bend near Warragul and the car overturned. His passenger survived, but Penleigh suffered terrible injuries and died at the scene within minutes.

Fortunately for Edith, the money from his estate (including the proceeds of the sale of “The Robins“, the repaired car and about 40 paintings), plus a small inheritance from her father, and an annual allowance from Penleigh’s father, Edith could support their sons Pat and Robin without needing to work, even during the depths of the Great Depression.

  • Pat (1915–1980), became a painter, wartime pilot, and later a commercial aviation pilot, and married Anne Davy.
  • Robin (1919–1971), was a distinguished influential Melbourne architect, educator, writer, and social commentator; who married Patricia Madder, (daughter of Læticia Gough, a sister to Doris (nee Gough) Boyd (who married Penleigh’s brother Merric Boyd).

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“Is It Art?”

Source: McCulloch Alan. Encyclopedia of Australian Art. Hutchinson Richmond 1977

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Doris Boyd | The Wife of Australian Studio Pottery

 

Australian artist, painter and ceramicist, Doris Lucy Eleanor Bloomfield Boyd (née Gough), was born on 20 November, 1888. Doris Gough was the youngest of six children, born to Victorian Naval Forces Lieutenant, Thomas Bunbury Gough, and Evelyn Anna Walker Gough (née Rigg). Doris grew up in an unusual household, in which her mother’s buoyant spirit, radical politics and Christian Science faith contrasted with her father’s conservative background and temperament. Her family line ran directly back to Thomas Bunbury Gough, a Dean of Derry, brother to the great soldier Hugh Gough, the 1st Viscount Gough.

Bunbury Gough was a Lieutenant in the Victorian Navy from 1885-1888. As Lieutenant, he was in charge of running the HMVS Cerberus, when the Commander was not on board. Outside of his naval career in Victoria, he worked variously as a merchant, as an insurance agent, and as a commission agent, as did his father-in-law. Evelyn was co-proprietor of The Sun: A Society Courier.

Doris Gough studied under Bernard Hall and Frederick McCubbin at the National Gallery School where she met Merric Boyd, a fellow student and potter. Boyd came from a background of artists who collectively formed the Boyd family dynasty. In 1915, she married him, and together they raised five children:

  • Lucy Evelyn Gough Boyd (1916–2009), painter, ceramic decorator, who married Hatton Beck (1901–1994), ceramist, potter and sculptor.
  • Arthur Merric Bloomfield Boyd (1920–1999), painter, who married Yvonne Lennie, painter.
  • Guy Martin à Beckett Boyd (1923–1988), early poet, potter and sculptor, married Phyllis Emma Nairn.
  • David Fielding Gough Boyd (1924–2011), potter, painter, married Hermia Lloyd-Jones, ceramic decorator, artist and stage designer.
  • Mary Elizabeth Boyd (1926–2016), a pottery enthusiast and photographer who firstly married, John Perceval, painter, potter, and sculptor, and had four children. and later, Sir Sidney Nolan, painter, becoming Lady Nolan.

Doris decorated many of Merric Boyd’s works from 1920-1930. These were mostly pieces for domestic use, featuring Australian flora and fauna. Sadly, the Boyd’s Murrumbeena studio and Merric’s pottery were destroyed by fire in 1926.

With a strong faith in Christian Science, Doris influenced her husband, an epileptic, to convert in his latter years. She died on 13 June 1960, nine months after Merric. They are buried side by side at Brighton General Cemetery, Caulfield South, Victoria, Australia.

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“Is It Art?”

Source: McCulloch Alan. Encyclopedia of Australian Art. Hutchinson: Richmond, 1977
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William Merric Boyd | The Father of Australian Studio Pottery

Australian artist, ceramicist and sculptor, William Merric Boyd, known as Merric Boyd was born in the Melbourne suburb of St. Kilda, on 24 June, 1888. He has become “the father of Australian studio pottery”. The second son of Arthur Merric and Emma Minnie Boyd, Merric is one of the many generations of the Boyd dynasty, which includes painters, sculptors, architects and other arts professionals. His siblings included:

  • Eldest, John Gilbert à Beckett Boyd (1886–1896) who was killed in a riding accident,
  • Theodore Penleigh Boyd (1890–1923), a landscape artist, who married fellow painter Edith Susan Gerard Anderson,
  • Martin à Beckett Boyd (1893–1972), a writer, and;
  • Helen Read à Beckett Boyd (1903–1999), a painter, who married naval officer, Neven Read.

Growing up, Merric Boyd lived in Sandringham, where he was educated at nearby Haileybury College, until he was eight. The family moved permanently to the family farm at Yarra Glen and Boyd attended Dookie Agricultural College, with aspirations of turning his hand to farming; and then he considered entering the Church of England as a clergyman, spending time studying at St John’s Theological College, Melbourne.

Merric married painter Doris Gough (1889-1960), and together, they founded their home at Wahroongaa Crescent, Murrumbeena, naming it “Open Country“. It was here, that Merric established the pottery kilns in 1911, and is said to be Australia’s first ceramic artist. Merric Boyd and family were supported financially by Merric’s maternal grandmother Emma à Beckett. It was Emma’s fortune, inherited from her father John Mills, an ex-convict who founded the Melbourne Brewery, that allowed their family to live comfortably.

Merric evolved a style of pottery decoration, based on Australian botanical and animal motifs, towards the end of his life. Merric made many primitive studies of plant and animal life in coloured crayons, establishing a continuance of artistic tradition to the name Boyd. It was in Murrumbeena, that he and Doris raised a young family of further Australian artists and painters, including:

  • Lucy Evelyn Gough Boyd (1916–2009), painter, ceramic decorator, who married Hatton Beck (1901–1994), a ceramist, potter, and sculptor.
  • Arthur Merric Bloomfield Boyd (1920–1999), painter, married Yvonne Lennie, painter.
  • Guy Martin à Beckett Boyd (1923–1988), early poet, potter, sculptor, who married Phyllis Emma Nairn.
  • David Fielding Gough Boyd (1924–2011), potter, painter, married Hermia Lloyd-Jones, a ceramic decorator, artist, and stage designer.
  • Mary Elizabeth Boyd (1926–2016), a pottery enthusiast and photographer who married firstly, John Perceval, painter, potter, and sculptor, and had four children; and later, Sir Sidney Nolan, painter, becoming Lady Nolan.

William Merric Boyd died on 09 September, 1959.

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“Is It Art?”

Source: McCulloch Alan. Encyclopedia of Australian Art. Hutchinson: Richmond, 1977
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Meet Minnie | The Mother of the Boyd Dynasty

Australian artist Emma Minnie Boyd was born Emma Minnie à Beckett, on 23 November, 1858. She is part of the artistic Boyd dynasty, which began with Emma and her husband Arthur Merric and their art work, which influenced their children and grandchildren, to pursue their own artistic careers.

Emma Minnie à Beckett was the second of six children to The Hon. William Arthur Callendar à Beckett (1833–1901) and Emma Mills à Beckett (1838–1906). Her father was the eldest son of Sir William à Beckett, first Chief Justice of Victoria, and à Beckett became a magistrate of the colony of Victoria in 1862, but later resided at Penleigh House, Westbury, Wiltshire. He married Emma Mills, in September 1855, the only child and heiress of John Mills, of Melbourne, who attained great fortune. The young Emma Minnie was known by her second name “Minnie”, so as not to be confused for her mother.

Partly thanks to her mother’s fortune, Minnie grew up in Melbourne. From an early age, she showed an interest in the arts, and her family would indulge her, by posing for her early portraits. Her parents were well off and supporters of the arts. They encouraged her and were able to support her through her studies at the National Gallery of Victoria School where she exhibited regularly, while studying.

  • Minnie became a prolific painter and exhibited her work frequently. She was a contemporary of Australian artists such as, James Conder, Arthur Streeton, Frederick McCubbin and Tom Roberts and the other artists from the Heidelberg School. She also worked with landscape watercolour artist, Louis Buvelot.

Minnie married aspiring painter, Arthur Merric Boyd, in 1886, and together they became the first members of many generations of artists of the Boyd family. They met while they were at art school together. The à Beckett’s were able to give the young couple and their children the means to pursue careers in the arts. They had five children, four of whom became prominent in the Australian artistic world.

  • Gilbert was born in 1886, but was tragically killed in a fall from a horse in 1896, Merric was born in 1888, Penleigh in 1890, Martin in 1893, and their youngest and only daughter Helen, in 1903.

In 1890, the Boyd’s went to Europe to work, where their work was shown at the Royal Academy of the Arts. The loss of family investments in the crash of the Melbourne land boom, brought Emma and her husband back to Melbourne, where she taught art students in her city studio.

Minnie exhibited publicly between 1874-1932. This included the Victorian Artists Society, the Centennial International Exhibition 1888 (Melbourne), the Royal Academy of Arts (London), and in a joint show with her husband at Como House, in Melbourne in 1902, amongst other venues.

  • After living in Wahroongaa Crescent, Murrumbeena, Minnie and Arthur Merric moved to 5 Edward Street, Sandringham, in 1924. She died at Sandringham on 13 September 1936, survived by her husband and two of her sons and her daughter.

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“Is It Art?”

Source: McCulloch Alan. Encyclopedia of Australian Art. Hutchinson: Richmond 1977 and Gleeson, James. Australian Painters. Lansdowne Press; Sydney, 1976.
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Arthur Merric | The Father of the Boyd Dynasty

Australia’s famous Boyd family of artists began with distinguised watercolourist, Arthur Merric Boyd I (or Senior), one of twelve children, born on 19 March 1862 in Opoho, Dunedin, New Zealand; son of Captain John Theodore Thomas Boyd (1825–1891), formerly of County Mayo, Ireland, and his wife Lucy Charlotte, daughter of Dr Robert Martin of Heidelberg, Victoria.

The Boyd family moved to Australia in the mid-1870s, and on 14 January 1886, Arthur Merric Boyd married Emma Minnie à Beckett, also an artist and known as Minnie, daughter of the Hon. W. A. C. à Beckett of Melbourne. They had five children:

  • John Gilbert à Beckett Boyd (1886–1896) killed in a riding accident
  • William Merric Boyd (1888-1959) a ceramicist and known as Merric
  • Theodore Penleigh Boyd (1890-1923) a painter known as Penleigh
  • Martin à Beckett Boyd (1893-1972) a writer, and
  • Helen à Beckett Boyd (1903-1999), also a painter and married Neven Read.

In 1890, Arthur Merric and Minnie moved to England and lived for a time at Penleigh House, Westbury, Wiltshire, and they both submitted works for the Royal Academy exhibition in 1891. Boyd then travelled and painted whilst on the European continent and returned to Australia towards the end of 1893.

  • When their children had matured, married or settled elsewhere, Arthur Merric and Minnie lived in a connecting property to their son, Merric Boyd and family, in Wahroongaa Crescent, Murrumbeena.
  • Later on, in 1924, Arthur Merric and Minnie moved to 5 Edward Street, Sandringham. When his wife died on 13 September 1936, at Sandringham, Arthur Merric moved to a family cottage at Rosebud on the Mornington Peninsula on the shores of Port Phillip and;
  • In 1939, he returned to Wahroongaa Crescent, Murrumbeena, where he lived out his last days on his son Merric’s property, until his death, on 30 July, 1940.

Arthur Merric Boyd senior was principally a watercolourist, and represented in the collections of the National Gallery of Victoria, and the Geelong Art Gallery.

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“Is It Art?”

Source: McCulloch, Alan. Encyclopedia of Australian Art. Hutchinson: Richmond, 1977
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