2 February, 2009
Artist » Pre-Raphaelites (1848-1920) » Boyce, George Price (British, 1826–1897

George Price Boyce (1826–1897) was a British watercolour painter of landscapes and vernacular architecture in the Pre-Raphaelite style. He was a patron and friend of Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Boyce exhibited both oils and watercolours at the Royal Academy between 1853 and 1861. He was a founder member of the Hogarth Club. He exhibited frequently at the Royal Watercolour Society and was elected Associate in 1864 and Member in 1878. He retired painting in 1893 through ill health. Boyce's diary has become a major source of information on Rossetti and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Boyce was the brother of painter Joanna Mary Boyce.

GEORGE PRICE BOYCE was the elder brother of the brilliant, and tragic Joanna Boyce, the great woman painter who died in her early thirties with her potential unfulfilled. This remains one of the great losses to English art of the nineteenth century.

George Boyce was initially training as an architect. Following a meeting with the artist David Cox, he decided that his real interest was in painting, and resolved to train as an artist. His father supported him in this , as he also supported the artistic aspirations of his talented daughter. David Cox, whom Boyce met in 1849, was also instrumental in this new direction, and seems to have been his artistic mentor. He became a close friend of Rossetti, and member of his circle. He and had a close friendship with Fanny Cornforth, with whom I think he had a sexual relationship. He remembered her cheerful personality with warmth and affection in his diaries, not denying her existence like William Rossetti. Boyce’s diaries, published in the 1940s are a valuable source of information about the Pre-Raphaelites. He became an Associate of the Royal Water Colour Society in 1864, and a full member in 1877, which was felt by many people to be extremely late recognition of his considerable talent as a landscape painter. His watercolour landscapes are accomplished and beautiful. George Boyce was unmarried.


Death Notice
The Times, Thursday February 11, 1897

BOYCE : On 9 th inst at his residence, West House, Glebe-place, Chelsea after a long illness George Price Boyce, retired Member of the Royal Water Colour Society in his 71 st year. Funeral Service at St Luke’s Church, Sydney-street, Chelsea at 12 0’clock Saturday 13 inst.

The Times, Friday February 12, 1897

The death is announced of Mr GEORGE PRICE BOYCE who died on the 9th inst at his residence West-house, Glebe-place, Chelsea, after a long illness. The Athenaeum says: He was the eldest child of Mr George Boyce and his wife Anne Price, and was born in Bloomsbury on September 24, 1826. He went to school at Chipping Ongar, and afterwards stayed for a considerable time in Paris. Proposing to become an architect, he was articled to the late Mr Little, but becoming convinced his vocation lay elsewhere, he made a lengthened tour in North Wales in 1849, and encountered David Cox at the Royal Oak at Bettws-y-Coed. In 1851 he was again in Wales, where he made several of those beautiful studies upon which his reputation in after life was founded.

Before this he became intimate with several artists, such as Mr H. T. Wells (Henry Wells RA 1828-1903), who married his sister Joanna, herself an accomplished painter, and he found himself drawn in to a distinguished circle. A second meeting with Cox at Bettws confirmed him in his new departure, and on returning to London in the winter of 1852 he took a studio in Great Russell-street, and, joining the long renowned Clipstone-street Academy, studied much from life and tried his hand at oil painting. Some time before this, Boyce, possibly by means of Mr Wells, was, we believe, brought into contact with Rossetti while he was finishing the Mary, Virgin picture, or that Ecce Ancilla Domini! now in the National Gallery. The date of this introduction is doubtful - it may have been 1849, or even later - but the effect on Boyce was such that he became an enthusiastic friend of the great artist, although their characters were entirely different, bought some of his pictures, and always regarded him with a most unusual affection. On Boyce’s style of painting, on the other hand, , Rossetti had no influence.

In 1853 Boyce was at Dinant, and visited the Pyrenees and Babbicombe Bay, where he produced some charming water-colours. In this year, too, he made his first appearance London exhibitions, sending to Suffolk-street The Royal Oak, Bettws-y-Coed (a reminiscence of Cox), and Beeches, and to the Academy Timber Yard, Chiddingstone, and East-end of Edward Confessor’s Chapel, Westminster. He repeated the last subject more than once. In 1854 Boyce was studying in Switzerland, at Ticino, Milan, Venice, and Verona, where he made a fine drawing of the tombs of the Can Grande and Mastino. In 1855 he was again in London, drawing at Langham Chambers School, and again visited North Wales. In 1856 he moved from Great Russell-street to 15, Buckingham Street, Strand, and had William Burges for his fellow-lodger.

Later in the same year we find him painting at Airolo and Giornico. In 1858 Boyce became a founder member of the original Hogarth Club, whose rooms were in Piccadilly and Waterloo-place. Among the members were Street, W. Burges, Madox Brown, A. D. Fripp, Lord Leighton, D. G. Rossetti, and [Thomas] Woolner [1825-1892, English sculptor & poet]; and of men still living Sir E. Burne-Jones, Sir F. Burton, and Mr Wallis. To the private exhibitions of this society Boyce contributed, as he had previously done to the collection of Pre-Raphaelites held in Russell-place, Fitzroy-square. In successive years we find him busily painting at Streatley, of which he was one of the discoverers, and long before P. Walker and his friends drew attention to it; at Whitby, where he made drawings before Alfred Hunt went there, at Rievaulx and Whitwell. Some of the results of these visits were exhibited at the Academy and enhanced his reputation. In the autumn of 1861 he went to Egypt, with Mr F. Dillon (Frank Dillon R1 1823-1909), as his companion, and remained for six months. In 1864 he was elected an Associate of the Old Society, and thenceforth an almost constant contributor of drawings, always beautiful, delicate, and unobtrusive, which were conspicuous for their fidelity and unaffected simplicity. The simple “Englishness” of their technique was almost demure in its graceful modesty. A less unassuming man would have held a place among the leaders of the “Old Society,” and it was hardly to their credit that so fine and sound an artist remained an Associate until 1878. Personally Boyce was like his pictures - modest almost to a fault, undemonstrative and sincere. Highly cultivated, he found in art his chief occupation and resource. He was also an excellent amateur musician, and at one time a good oarsman.

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