George Price Boyce 1826–1897

Artist biography

English painter. In the early 1850s Boyce drew landscape and architectural subjects with a fluent watercolour technique. In 1854 Boyce made an extended journey to Italy; he painted views of buildings in Venice and Verona, which were commended by Ruskin, and semi-abstract twilight studies, which anticipate Whistler's nocturnes.

Towards the end of the 1850s Boyce adopted a technique of minute detail and bright colour; various watercolours of this period, are among the most intense and objective of all Pre-Raphaelite landscapes. Boyce abhorred conventional compositions and picturesque detail; he sought viewpoints from which the landscape and buildings might be seen in intriguing conjunction. Boyce ranged England in search of subjects. In the course of a peripatetic career he frequently visited France and Italy, and in 1861–2 he travelled to Egypt.

In 1868 Boyce commissioned Philip Webb to build a house in Chelsea: West House was completed in 1870, and Boyce lived there until the end of his life. He filled the house with an important collection of paintings; he owned many works by Rossetti, which he had commissioned.

As he was of independent means Boyce followed his artistic inclinations without being concerned whether his works would find a ready market. Even if his professional status was uncertain, he was committed to painting and exhibited regularly: at the Royal Academy (1853–61) and in 1857 at the exhibition of Pre-Raphaelite pictures held at Russell Place, London.

A. E. Street: ‘George Price Boyce, RWS', Archit. Rev. [London], v (1899), pp. 151–60
R. Davies, ed.: ‘Extracts from Boyce's Diaries, 1851–75', Old Wtrcol. Soc. Club, xix (1941), pp. 1–71
V. Surtees, ed.: The Diaries of George Price Boyce (Norwich, 1980) [annotated rev. of the diaries with a biog. intro.]
P. Gerrish Nunn: ‘Case Histories: Joanna Mary Boyce', Victorian Women Artists (London, 1987), pp. 146–58
George Price Boyce (exh. cat. by C. Newall and J. Egerton, London, Tate, 1987)


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