George Price Boyce 1826–1897
T01587 Girl by a Beech Tree in a Landscape 1857
Oil on board,11¾ x 18¿(29.8x 48).
Purchased from Mrs Robert Frank (Grant-in-Aid) 1972.
Coll: Given by the artist to the architect and amateur artist Frederic Warren; passed on his death in 1899 to his daughter Miss Caroline Warren and at her death in 1935 to her brother Cyprian Warren; sold by the Reid Gallery Ltd, Guildford, on behalf of Mrs Cyprian Warren at Christie’s, 14 July 1972 (7, repr.), bt. Frank.
Lit: J. Ruskin, Academy Notes, 1858, Library Edition, xiv, 1904, p.162.
In his notes on the Royal Academy exhibition for 1858 Ruskin describes No.216, ‘At a Farmhouse in Surrey’ by Boyce, as being ‘Full of truth and sweet feeling. How pleasant it is after looking at Mr Frith’s picture, to see how happy a little girl may be who hasn’t gone to the Derby!’ Ruskin was contrasting Boyce’s work with Frith’s ‘The Derby Day’ (Tate Gallery, N00615) which was exhibited the same year. Although there is no evidence that the above Academy exhibit is identifiable with T01587, Ruskin’s remarks convey the introspective charm which singled out Boyce’s works from among the more didactic contributions of his day, and which is strongly evident in this little oil. He was highly regarded by his Pre-Raphaelite friends, whose doctrine of ‘truth to nature’ and luminous colouring notably affected his own work.
It is possible that the scene is set somewhere near Hayward’s Heath, Sussex, where Boyce spent part of the summer of 1857.
Published in The Tate Gallery Report 1972–1974, London 1975.