George Price Boyce

(24 September 1826 - 9 February 1897)

British watercolour painter of landscapes and vernacular architecture in the Pre-Raphaelite style. He was a patron and friend of Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

Boyce was born in Gray's Inn Terrace, London, the son of George Boyce, a wine merchant turned pawnbroker. He went to school in Chipping Ongar in Essex, and then studied in Paris. In October 1843 he was articled to an architect named Little, with whom he remained for four years, until joining the architectural firm of Wyatt and Brandon. Already disillusioned with architecture, a meeting with the artist David Cox in August 1849, persuaded him to give up the profession and take up watercolour painting instead.

His early work shows the influence of Cox who he met again in Bettws-y-Coed in 1851, but he went on to develop his own detailed style under the influence of the Pre-Raphaelite painters, having met Thomas Seddon and Rossetti in about 1849 and William Holman Hunt and John Everett Millais in 1853, in which year he painted in Dinan, Brittany, with Seddon. In 1854 he went to Venice, where he sketched subjects recommended to him by the critic John Ruskin, who corresponded with him during his four months in the city.

Much of his work from the late 1850s concentrated on English landscapes, often incorporating views of vernacular architecture, especially around the Thames Valley villages of Pangbourne, Mapledurham, Whitchurch and Streatley, and in Sussex and Surrey. In the 1870s he painted many views of Ludlow, and was increasingly drawn to more remote landscapes.

In 1861, following the death of his sister, he went to Egypt, where he shared a house in Giza with Frank Dillon and Egron Lundgren until the February of the following year.

Rossetti, who disliked working out of doors; borrowed Boyce's sketches to provide the background for his watercolour "Writing on the Sand" (1858; British Museum, London).

Boyce exhibited both oils and watercolours at the Royal Academy between 1853 and 1861. He was a founder member of the Hogarth Club and of the Medieval Society, an organisation, formed mostly of architects, dedicated to promoting interest in the art and architecture of the Middle Ages. He was also a leading member of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings. He exhibited frequently at the Royal Watercolour Society and was elected Associate in 1864 and Member in 1878.

From 1871, he lived at West House, Chelsea, designed for him by his friend Philip Webb. He retired from painting in 1893 through ill health, and died at West House in 1897.

Boyce's diary has become a major source of information on Rossetti and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. His sister was the painter Joanna Mary Boyce.

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George Price Boyce was also a member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and had traveled with Thomas Seddon to Dinan, France in 1853. Following the death of his sister Joanna, an artist in her own right, he journeyed to Egypt. He arrived in the autumn of 1861 with Frank Dillon staying for six months, they were joined by the Swedish artist Egron Lundgren and the group rented an Arab house near Giza and claimed to live there in true 'Oriental' style. This was very typical of the artist travelers of the day, who attempted to absorb themselves in the culture they were interpreting for the sake of authenticity. On Christmas day at the plateau Boyce completed his watercolor "Pyramids and Sphinx of Ghizeh", it was painted in tribute to his late friend Thomas Seddon and uses a similar viewpoint to Seddon's "Sunset Afterglow" (1856).

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The Pyramids (1861), The Great Sphinx at Gizeh (1862)


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