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