George Price Boyce

A Girl by a Beech Tree in a Landscape


Not on display

George Price Boyce 1826–1897
Oil paint on board
Support: 298 × 479 mm
frame: 414 × 595 × 41 mm
Purchased 1972

Display caption

Boyce was originally an architect but took up painting after meeting David Cox in 1849. Subsequently he became a friend of Ruskin and the Pre-Raphaelites and, from 1860, of Whistler. He painted mainly in watercolour, this work being one of his rare landscapes in oil. The exact location has not been established but Boyce is known to have visited Haywards Heath and Petworth in 1857, the year he painted the picture. The following year he exhibited two Surrey subjects but their titles do not seem appropriate to this work.

Gallery label, September 2004

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Catalogue entry

George Price Boyce 1826–1897

T01587 Girl by a Beech Tree in a Landscape 1857

Inscribed ‘G-P-Boyce-’57’b.l.
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.

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