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John Rutherford Boyd Landscape Painting - The River
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John Rutherford Boyd
The River

About

A versatile artist who made a name for himself as an illustrator, sculptor, designer, and painter, John Rutherford Boyd was born in Philadelphia, the son of Peter K. Boyd (1857–1907), a master carver in wood and stone. As a youth, he worked in his father’s shop, where, in addition to learning about the production of architectural ornament and furniture, he was exposed to the woodcarving techniques that would inform his later work as a sculptor. In 1898, Boyd enrolled in classes at the Central Manual Training School in Philadelphia, studying design, perspective, and free-hand carving with the painter Albert Paul Willis, in addition to taking sketch classes. Impressed with Boyd’s potential, Willis recommended Boyd for a scholarship at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (Boyd’s father had studied there), which he subsequently attended during evenings until becoming a full time student in 1902. During his tenure at the Pennsylvania Academy, Boyd distinguished himself in the areas of design and drawing, receiving the school’s Henry J. Thouron Composition Prize and the Sketch Book Prize. He also studied with two progressive-minded painters––Thomas A. Anshutz and Hugh H. Breckenridge––both of whom played key roles in the development of American Modernism. The teacher of such notable artists as John Sloan, George Luks, and John Marin, Anshutz believed in artistic individuality and urged his students to experiment with bold, post-impressionist color and painterly brushwork. An artist who moved easily between academic portraiture and still lifes and landscapes, Breckenridge painted with the prismatic hues associated with fauvists such as Matisse. As well as working under Anshutz and Breckenridge in Philadelphia, Boyd attended their classes in plein-air painting at The Darby Summer School of Painting, held near Anshutz’s residence in Fort Washington. Boyd spent the summer of 1903 in Philadelphia, working out of a studio he shared with the painter Maurice Molarsky. In 1904, he relocated to Mt. Vernon, New York, living with his grandmother as he sought work as a freelance illustrator in New York City. One year later, Boyd moved to Manhattan, establishing his studio at 120 West 23rd Street and shortening his name to Rutherford Boyd. In addition to attending classes in illustration at the Art Students League of New York, Boyd proceeded to establish himself as a leading commercial illustrator. Over the next four years, he executed commissions for popular magazines such as Appleton’s, Century, Scribner’s, and the Saturday Evening Post, drawing praise for his technical finesse. While his illustration work kept him busy, Boyd continued to paint in his spare time. Between 1905 and 1915, he made seasonal excursions to Cape May, New Jersey, America’s oldest coastal resort, where he painted sparkling beach scenes in an improvisatory manner that reflected his earlier training at the Darby Summer School of Art. (Anshutz, who painted coastal subjects in Cape May during the 1890s, may have influenced Boyd’s decision to paint there.) Such is the case with Cape May with Row Boats on the Beach, in which Boyd divides the scene into clearly defined areas of landscape and sky bisected by a band of water––a near-abstract design that is decidedly modern. Working with a limited palette dominated by cool blues, white, and pale buff tones, he applies his pigments with broad, fluent strokes, imbuing the image with a vital sense of immediacy while capturing the fleeting effect of light as it glances off the sea and sand. Rendered with rapidly applied daubs of pigment, the boats and beach-goers on the shoreline add an appealing genre element to this delightful vignette, which Boyd probably painted in a single sitting. In 1909, Boyd moved to Philadelphia, where he became an associate art director of Ladies Home Journal. In the ensuing years, he continued to paint, working along the Jersey Shore and in Monhegan, Maine, often with his good friend, the painter and illustrator, J. Scott Williams. In 1915, after residing in various locales in the Philadelphia area, Boyd settled in Leonia, New Jersey (an artist’s colony and home to leading illustrators such as Harvey Dunn, Mahonri Young, and Dean Cornwell), where he took a job as the art director of The Delineator, a monthly fashion magazine. He continued to work as an illustrator for major national magazines and served as the advertising director for E. R. Squibb and Sons (1925–26), as well. Boyd remained active as a painter too, creating landscapes and floral still lifes, the latter executed with a vivid, post-impressionist-inspired palette. In 1917, Boyd attended a series of classes given by the theorist Jay Hambidge on Dynamic Symmetry, a method of proportion and compositional design based on mathematical principles that attracted the attention of such noted artists as George Bellows, Robert Henri, and Maxfield Parrish. Boyd explored the concept too, first in pencil sketches, ink drawings, and mathematical statements and later, during the 1930s and 1940s, in exuberant abstract sculptures carved and modeled in wood, plaster, Lucite, and stone. (For an informative discussion of Boyd’s sculpture, see Douglas Dreishpoon’s Science into Art: The Abstract Sculpture and Drawings of Rutherford Boyd (1882–1951), exhib. cat. [New York: Hirschl & Adler Galleries, 1983].) He was involved in a variety of creative endeavors––ranging from writing, teaching, and mural painting to designing sundials, furniture, automobiles, bridges, and architectural monuments––until his death in Leonia on February 14, 1951.

Details

  • Dimensions
    H 16 in. x W 24 in.H 40.64 cm x W 60.96 cm
  • Gallery Location
    New York, NY
  • Reference Number
    LU233575041
  • Seller Reference Number
    APG 20955D
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