Arthur Merric Bloomfield Boyd 1920 – 1999

1920 - 1999


Arthur Merric Bloomfield Boyd is one of Australia's most prominent artists. His work is respected and traded in major international art venues and held in public galleries throughout Australia and overseas. He has represented Australia twice at the Venice Biennale, has been awarded the H G Richards Memorial Prize, 1963, honoured with the Order of Australia for services to the arts and the Companion to the Order of Australia. Boyd is also an accomplished sculptor and ceramist and was responsible for the design of the tapestry in the reception hall at Parliament House, Canberra.

Arthur Boyd was born into a family of artistic renown. His grandfather, Arthur Merric Boyd was a New Zealand landscape artist who settled in Australia in 1886,while his grandmother Emma Minnie, a member of the A'Beckett family, was an accomplished painter. Both paternal grandparents exhibited at the Royal Academy, London and Arthur Merric taught his grandson the skill of landscape painting in the Heidelberg tradition. Boyd learnt ceramic art from his father, Merric Boyd while family life revolved around art and religion.

At the age of 17 he held his first exhibited at the Seddon Gallery in Melbourne. He was soon to move away from the light-toned, blue and gold palette style of the Heidelberg School to a darker palette using freer more expressive brush strokes. In the early forties Boyd came under the influence of social realist, Yosl Bergner, and took painting lessons from Danila Vassilieff, an expressionist artist. He was an active member of the Angry Penguins and shared a studio with John Perceval. The paintings of this time already exhibited a Boyd characteristic: tension experienced on margins, such as the boundary of sex/love, love/loathing.

In 1945 Boyd studied the European Masters especially Brueghel and Bosch and later Rembrandt. Religious themes became prominent in the work although he gave them contemporary pertinence and universal significance and they were often sited in local landscape. In 1948 he commenced a magnificent series of landscapes based around the Wimmera which won him the respect of the Australian cultural establishment.

In the early fifties, Boyd turned much attention to ceramics and produced some of his finest sculpture. In 1956-57 Boyd painted the much acclaimed Bride Series which bought him international attention and arguably, is his best work. These important Chagall-like allegorical paintings also known as "Love, Marriage and Death of a Half-Caste", were made from observations during a trip from Alice Springs to Arltunga in 1951 and are concerned with the problems facing half-cast Aborigines and poverty. Boyd was one of the seven artists who contributed to the controversial Antipodeans exhibition, 1959 which defended form and figuration and questioned the all
encompassing conversion to abstract expressionism.
In 1960, Boyd moved to London and from 1970 divided his time between Britain, Tuscany and the Shoalhaven River, NSW. His work continued to include landscape and mythology - religious and allegorical. He has designed and painted sets for major London productions.


Arthur Boyd: Retrospective, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney (touring).

The Magic Flute Series and Other Paintings, Pyramid Art Gallery, New York.

Symbols of Transformation 1940-1960, BMG Fine Art, Adelaide.

Paintings 1973-1988, shown in XLIII Biennale of Venice 1988, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney.
Myths and Legends, Mornington Peninsula Arts Centre, Victoria; Bendigo Art Gallery; Ararat Art Gallery; Mildura Arts Centre; Benalla Art Gallery.

Paintings 1973-1988, XLIII Biennale of Venice, Australian Pavilion.

The Shoalhaven River, The Australian Consulate General, Los Angeles.

The Bundanon Paintings, Von Bertouch Galleries, Newcastle.
The Bride, Heide Park and Art Gallery, Bulleen.

Arthur Boyd: Seven Persistent Images, Australian National Gallery, Canberra, touring.

Drawings, Paintings, Prints and Ceramics (1940-1970) from the Collection, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide.

Tapestries, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
The Lady and the Unicorn, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

Drawings, Mornington Peninsula Art Centre, Victoria

Drawings and Prints from the Permanent Collection, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.

Arthur Boyd's Australia, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.

Retrospective, The Richard Demacro Gallery, Edinburgh.

Retrospective, Art Gallery of South Australia.
Retrospective, Museum of Modern Art and Design of Australia, Melbourne.
Arts Council Gallery, Cambridge.

Retrospective, Whitechapel Gallery, London

Exhibition by Arthur Boyd: Allegorical Paintings, Royal South Australian Society of Arts, Adelaide.


Two Hundred Years of Australian Painting, National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo (touring).
The Complexity and the Diversity, Lauraine Diggins Fine Art, Melbourne.

Arthur Boyd and Charles Blackman: Important Works, Savill Galleries, Sydney.
The Antipodeans: Another Chapter, Nolan Gallery, Lanyon.

Angry Penguins and Realist Painting in Melbourne in the 1940s, Hayward Gallery, London.
Stories of Australian Art, Commonwealth Institute, London.
Creating Australia: 200 Years of Art 1788-1988, toured Australian State Galleries.
Images of Religion in Australian Art, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.

The Jack Manton Prize, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane.
Australian Impressions: 100 Years of Landscape Painting, Heidelberger Schlop, Germany.

Friends and Relations, Heide Park and Art Gallery, Bulleen.

Art and Social Commitment: An End to the City of Dreams, Art Gallery of New South Wales.

The Boyd Family: A Survey of the Bundanon Collection, Arts Council Gallery, Canberra.
RAP: Recent Australian Paintings: A Survey 1970-80, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide.

The Painter as Potter: Decorated Ceramics of the Murrumbeena Circle, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.
Glimpses of the Forties: Melbourne, Heide Park Museum and Art Gallery, Bulleen.

The Boxer Collection: Modernism, Murrumbeena and Angry Penguins, Nolan Gallery, Lanyon.

Australian Drawings of the Thirties and Forties, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.

Contemporary Australian Drawing, Western Australian Art Gallery, Perth.

Genesis of a Gallery, Australian National Gallery, Canberra, touring.

The Australian Aboriginie Portrayed in Art, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide.

The Boyd Family 1884-1970, Mornington Civic Centre, Victoria.
Ten Printmakers 1970, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, touring.

Australian Print Survey, toured Australian State and Regional galleries.
The Art of Drawing, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, touring.

Australian Painting, Colonial, Impressionist, Contemporary, Tate Gallery, London.
British Painting in the Sixties, Tate Gallery, London.

Rebels and Precursors: Aspects of Painting in Melbourne, 1937-47, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; Art Gallery of New South Wales.

Four Australian Painters: Streeton, Dobell, Gruner, Boyd, Western Australia Art Gallery, Perth.

Survey III, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.
The Helene Rubinstein Travelling Art Scholarship, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney.

The Crouch Exhibition'', Ballarat Fine Art Gallery, Ballarat.

The Arts Festival of the Melbourne Olympic Games'', National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.

Jubilee Exhibition of Australian Art, toured Australian State Galleries.

Achievements, Collections & Commissions

Australian of the Year in recognition of his contribution to Australian art and to the community.

Companion of the Order of Australia

Irish-Australian of the Year

Order of Australia (OA) for services to art

Creative Art Fellowship, Australian National University (ANU), Canberra

Britannica Australia Award for the Arts, Winner

Medallion of the International Cooperation Award Committee, Adelaide, Winner

Henry Caselli Richards Memorial Prize for Painting, Brisbane, Winner

National Gallery of Australia
Art Gallery of New South Wales
National Gallery of Victoria
Art Gallery of South Australia
Art Gallery of Western Australia
Museums & Art Galleries of the Northern Territory
Queensland Art Gallery
Tasmania Museum and Art Gallery
Other international, regional, university and public collections


Crumlin, R., Images of Religion in Australian Art, Bay Books, Sydney, 1988

Crumlin, R., Angry Penguins and Realist Painting in Melbourne in the 1940s, South Bank Centre, London, 1988

Dobrez, P. and Herbst, P., The Art of the Boyds, Bay Books, Sydney, 1990

Dutton, G., White on Black: The Australian Aborigine Portrayed in Art, Macmillan, Melbourne, 1974

Finemore, B., Arthur Boyd: Retrospective Exhibition (catalogue), with an introduction by Brian O'Shaughnessy, Whitechapel Gallery, London, 1962

Gunn, G., Arthur Boyd: Paintings 1973-1988 (catalogue), Australian National Gallery, Canberra and Australia Council, 1988

Hetherington, J., Australian Painters: Forty Profiles, Angus & Robertson, Melbourne, 1964

Hoff, U., The Art of Arthur Boyd, Andre Deutsch, London, 1986

Klepac, L. (ed), Arthur Boyd: Retrospective, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 1993

McCulloch, A., The drawings of Arthur Boyd, in Meanjin, vol.X, no.2, Winter 1951, pp.155-56

McGrath, S., The Artist and the River: Arthur Boyd and the Shoalhaven, Bay Books, Sydney, 1982

O'Connor, V. G., Arthur Boyd: Progression, in Angry Penguins, no.3, 1942, p.32

Philip, F., Arthur Boyd, Thames & Hudson, London, 1967

Philip, F., Retrospective Exhibition of Paintings, Drawings and Other Works by Arthur Boyd (catalogue), Thames & Hudson, London, 1969

Philip, F. A., On Three Paintings by Arthur Boyd, in Present Opinion, vol.11, 1947, pp.9-14

Pringle, J., Australian Painting Today, Thames & Hudson, London, 1963

Smith, B., The Antipodeans, in Australia Today, 14 October 1959, pp.77-104

Thomas, L. and Tadgell, C., Arthur Boyd Drawings 1934-1970, Secker & Waburg, London, 1973

von Maltzahn, I., Arthur Boyd, Etchings and Lithographs, Lund Humphries, London, 1971