BOYD, Arthur Merric Bloomfield

1920 - 1999

Arthur Boyd

Arthur Merric Bloomfield Boyd, was born at Open Country, 8 Wahroonga Crescent, Murrumbeena, Victoria, Australia, on 24 July 1920, second child and eldest son in the family of three sons and two daughters of (William) Merric Boyd (24 June 1888-9 September 1959), potter & artist, and his wife, Doris Lucy Eleanor Bloomfield, née Gough (20 November 1888–13 June 1960), painter. His four siblings were the potter and painter Lucy Boyd [Beck] (August 1916-8 April 2009), the sculptor Guy Martin à Beckett Boyd (12 June 1923–26 April 1988), the painter and potter David Fielding Gough Boyd (23 August 1924–10 November 2011), and the painter Mary Boyd (1926-2016), who married successively two distinguished Australian painters, John Perceval (1923-2000) and Sidney Nolan (1917-1992). After attending the state school at Murrumbeena, Melbourne, at the age of fourteen he left school and worked at the north Melbourne paint factory of his uncle Ralph Madder, while gaining a modest amount of formal artistic instruction at the National Gallery Art School in Melbourne. In 1936, he went to live with his watercolourist grandfather, Arthur Merric Boyd (1862-1940), at Rosebud on the Mornington Peninsula and became, a full-time painter and, as early as 1937, was producing highly proficient landscapes. In 1938, he returned to Murrumbeena building a separate studio in the grounds, using plans drawn up by his cousin, the distinguished architect, Robin Gerard Penleigh Boyd (3 January 1919–16 October 1971). In 1939 he shared an exhibition with Polish-born Yosl Bergner (1920-2017) at the Rowden White Library, University of Melbourne and the following year, together with Keith James Craig Nichol (1821-1979), had his first full-scale exhibition at the Athenaeum Gallery in Melbourne. On 12 May 1941, Boyd joined the army in a light horse machine gun unit, but applied to join the more appropriate cartographic company, conveniently situated opposite the public library and National Gallery of Victoria. Boyd married on 6 March 1945, Yvonne Hartland, daughter of John Aim Lennie and Edna Latham Hartland. The period 1945–1948 produced an extraordinary series of religious paintings including ‘The Prodigal Son’, ‘The Expulsion’, and ‘Angel Spying on Adam and Eve’ which, while dealing with episodes from the Old Testament, were also imbued with a rather sinister voyeuristic element. In 1949, Boyd with wife Yvonne and children Polly (born 1946) and new son Jamie Boyd, moved to The Grange at Harkaway, Victoria and in 1955 to the beach suburb of Beaumaris on Port Phillip Bay. In 1959, he sailed with his family to London and rented a house at 13 Hampstead Lane, Highgate and his first London exhibition was at the Zwemmer Gallery in 1960 and, with his growing sales and prices, prospered. In 1966, Boyd began to paint his series devoted to Nebuchadnezzar and the paintings made a tremendous impact when they were first shown at the Edinburgh Festival of 1969. From 1970, he rented a modest, Keeper's Cottage, Ramsholt, near Woodbridge, Suffolk, as a weekend retreat. Inevitably, within a matter of weeks, it became a second studio where, undisturbed by metropolitan life, he painted more prolifically. He did many Suffolk landscapes, etchings, drawings, and pastels and, while at Ramsholt, experimented with oil paintings on copper sheets which enhanced his brilliant sense of colour almost as dramatically as his ceramic tiles had done. Boyd was created OBE in 1970, AO in 1979, and AC in 1992 and in 1995 was named Australian of the Year. Returning to Australia in January 1999 he died, after a period of illness, at the Mercy Hospital in Melbourne on 24 April 1999. He was survived by his wife, Yvonne, and their three children.

Works by This Artist