David Boyd

1924 - Present


Born in Murrumbeena, the youngest of three sons to Merric and Doris Boyd, David Boyd is a member of the renowned Boyd family, who are celebrated for their legacy to Australia's cultural development.

The young Boyd studied painting and pottery - the two areas of art for which his is best known - as well as the piano, from his family. At the age of 17, he attended the Melba Conservatorium of Music in Melbourne for further piano. However, in 1942, once he turned 18, Boyd was conscripted into the Australian army and was forced to give up his studies. After his discharge from the army in 1944, Boyd received an ex-serviceman's grant to study piano at the Melbourne University Conservatorium of Music. Boyd, however, found study difficult, struggling with the formal methods of learning, and possibly still suffering from the distressing effect of war.

Although Boyd loved music and spent hours at the piano improvising, he felt that he was not cut out to be a professional performer or composer. He decided to take up painting and transferred his ex-serviceman's scholarship to the Melbourne National Gallery art school, where studied from 1945 to 1946. During this period, Boyd painted his Soul series as well as some plein air landscapes for his first two exhibitions with his friend John Yule at the Rowden White Library, University of Melbourne. Unfortunately none of his efforts succeeded in impressing critics. While his teachers at the National Gallery School found him talented, he was highly individual and difficult to teach. Altogether these difficulties and failures caused David Boyd to feel that he had made a bad start at painting and should give it up.

David Boyd's father, Merric, was a pioneer of Australian pottery, and it was on this skill, learned in early childhood from his father, that Boyd then decided to concentrate. Although these early works demonstrate his father's influence, Boyd quickly developed an individual style alongside his wife, fellow artist Hermia Lloyd-Jones. The partnership was fruitful, with the pair quickly finding critical acclaim both in Australian and internationally from the mid-1940s until the beginning of the 60s.

Eventually, pottery led Boyd back to his original artistic exploits, when a series of ceramic tiles that dealt with biblical themes and explorers, convinced him to re-try his hand at painting. A series of paintings based on the Australian explorers from his tiles were the theme of his first solo exhibition in 1957.
Boyd's paintings have primarily been produced in series, each of which takes a concept or a theme that, with his fertile imagination, he explores extensively. As a dedicated figurative artist, Boyd draws his themes from the world around him, especially selecting those that arise from oppression and injustice. Boyd has often been referred to as a moral painter, although his intention is not to teach, but rather to illuminate the murky areas of the human psyche.
In 1959, together with brother Arthur, David Boyd was a signatory to the Antipodean Manifesto and participated in the subsequent exhibition. This was a landmark exhibition and a statement by the participating artists against the move to abstractionism. Boyd explored a number of themes that evolved as quite significant works, including the powerful Trial series, the Tasmanian Aborigines, the Wanderer and Exiles series. Picturing innocence and evil, destruction and creation, his works convey mythical and universal themes. The Trial series was continued while he lived in Rome in 1962 before settling in London, and were the theme of his first one-man shows in London and Paris in 1963.

In 1960 David Boyd was elected President of the Contemporary Art Society (Victorian branch) and Councillor of the Museum of Modern Art of Australia. This recognition was followed by his winning first prize in the Italian Art Scholarship for Australia and becoming chairman of the Federal Council of the Contemporary Art Society of Australia, both in 1961.

After living in Italy, England, France and Spain during most of the 60s and the early 70s, Boyd finally returned to Australia permanently in 1975.

' The Trial series (expressed ideas about fundamental and disturbing features of the human condition); Tasmanian Aborigines series (referred to the extinction of pureblood Tasmanian Aborigines in the nineteenth century); Wanderer series (was inspired by the life of Benjamin Boyd, an Australian adventurer of the 1840s).



''Reconciliation'', Eva Breuer Art Dealer, Sydney, NSW


series of exhibitions at von Bertouch Galleries


''The Legend of Europa and the Cockatoos'', Eva Breuer Art Dealer, Sydney


Survey retrospective exhibitions Wagner Gallery, Sydney; Caulfield Art Complex, Melbourne; Macquarie University, Sydney; Beaver Galleries, Sydney, Canberra


''Antipodean Second Chapter'', Lauraine Diggins Fine Art, Melbourne


''Requiem for the Birth of a Nation'', Wagner Art Gallery, Sydney


''A Judge in the Landscape'', Hong Kong; Wagner Art Gallery, Sydney; von Bertouch Galleries, Newcastle


''Retrospective Exhibition 1957-82'', a series of seven exhibitions, Wagner Art Gallery, Sydney


Retrospective, Albert Hall, Canberra.


Retrospective, Bonython Gallery, Sydney


Exhibited 'The Exiles' series in London and Melbourne


''David Boyd: A Retrospective'', Commonwealth Institute of Art, London
Arts Vietnam, protest exhibition, Gallery A, Sydney


''The Australian Painters: 1946-66'', Mertz Collection, The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.

'Sfumato Series', Zwemmer Gallery, London; South Yarra Gallery, Melbourne


''Arthur and David Boyd'', The Mowbray Gallery, Sunderland

'Trial Series', Johnstone Gallery, Brisbane; Bonython Gallery, Adelaide; South Yarra Gallery, Melbourne; Dominion Gallery, Sydney


''Recent Australian Paintings'', Whitechapel Art Gallery, London

''Australian Paintings'', Raymond Burr Galleries, Los Angeles

''Italian Government Art Prize'', National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
'Explorer, Tasmanian and Trial series', Johnstone Gallery, Brisbane


''The Antipodeans'', V.A.S Galleries, Melbourne


''Pattern and Shape'', National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne


'Arthur Boyd (paintings) and David and Hermia Boyd (ceramics)', Peter Bray Gallery, Melbourne

Achievements, Collections & Commissions



Membro Albo Doro Del Senato Accademico - International Academy of Modern Art, Rome, Italy


Artist in residence School of Law, Macquarie University, NSW


First Prize, Italian Art Scholarship for Australian Chairman of the Federal
Council of the Contemporary Art Society of Australia.


President of the Contemporary Art Society (Victorian branch)

Elected Councillor of the Museum of Modern Art of Australia


Adelaide Art Teachers College, Adelaide

Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney

Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide

Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth

Australian War Memorial, Canberra

Ballarat Art Gallery, Ballarat

Bendigo Art Gallery, Bendigo

Bundanon Trust, Nowra

Department of External Affairs, Canberra

Graylands College, Perth

Harold Mertz Collection of Australian Paintings, USA

Lincolnshire and South Humberside Arts, Usher Gallery, Lincoln, UK

Macquarie University, Sydney

Monash University, Melbourne

Museum of Applied Arts and Science, Sydney

Museum of Modern Art of Australia, Melbourne

National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

National Gallery of Victoria

National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo

Newcastle Regional Art Gallery, Newcastle

The Power Collection, Sydney

Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane

Queensland University, Brisbane

Queen Victoria Museum, Launceston

Staffordshire Museum, Stoke-on-Trent, UK

Sydney University, Sydney

University of New South Wales, Sydney

University of Adelaide, South Australia

University of Western Australia, Perth


Bonython, K. ''Modern Australian Painting and Sculpture'', Griffin Press, Adelaide, 1960

Bonython, K. ''Modern Australian Painting 1960-1970'', with introduction by Ross K. Luck, Rigby Limited, Adelaide, 1970

Boyd, Martin, ''Day of my Delight'', Lansdowne Press Pty Ltd, Melbourne, 1965

Burr, James & Williams, Sheldon, ''Sfumato Paintings and Drawings of David Boyd'' (monograph), Ritchie Dickson Limited, London, 1967

Finlay, D. J. ''Modern Australian Painting'', Beaverbrook Newspapers Limited, London, 1963

Hood, K., ''Pottery'', Longmans, Melbourne, 1961

Luck, Ross K, ''The Australian Painters, 1964-66
, The Mertz Collection'', Griffin Press, Adelaide, 1966

Luck, Ross K., ''Modern Australian Painting'', Sun Books, Melbourne, 1969

Parr, Lenton, ''Sculpture'', Longmons, Melbourne, 1961

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

Smith, Bernard, ''Australian Painting 1788-1960'', Oxford University Press, 1962

Smith, Bernard, ''Australian Painting Today'', University of Queensland Press, 1962

Osborne, Harold (ed.), ''The Oxford Companion to Art'', Oxford University Press, 1970

Benko, Nancy, ''The Art of David Boyd'' (monograph), Hyde Park Press, Adelaide, 1973

Vader, John, ''The Pottery and Ceramics of David and Hermia Boyd'', Mathews/Hutchinson, Sydney, 1977

Marginson, Ray, ''Catalogue of the Melbourne University Art Collection'', 1971

''The Antipodean Manifesto'', (exhibition catalogue), Melbourne, 1959

''Recent Australian Painting'', Whitechapel Gallery, 1961

Scarlett, Ken, ''Australian Sculptors'', Nelson, 1980

Fry, Gavin & Gray, Anne, ''Masterpieces of the Australian War Memorial'', Rigby, 1982

Dbrez, Patricia & Herbst, Peter,'' The Art of the Boyds'', Bay Books, New South Wales, 1991

Furby, Paula & Snowden, Betty, ''The University of Adelaide Art Collections'', University of Adelaide, S.A., 1995

''Art and Law'', vol. 20, no. 2, April 1995, Monash University, Victoria

''From Vision to Sesquicentenary'', The University of Sydney, 1999