Merric Boyd

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Merric Boyd
William Merric Boyd

(1888-06-24)24 June 1888
St Kilda, Victoria
Died9 September 1959(1959-09-09) (aged 71)
Murrumbeena, Victoria
EducationNational Gallery School
Known forPottery
MovementBernard Hall, Frederick McCubbin / John Perceval
Spouse(s)Doris Boyd (née Gough) (m. 1915)

William Merric Boyd, known commonly as Merric Boyd (24 June 1888 – 9 September 1959), was an Australian artist, active as a ceramicist, painter, and sculptor. He was given the fine distinction of being the father of studio pottery in Australia.

The Boyd family of many generations includes painters, sculptors, architects and other arts professionals, commencing with Boyd's father Arthur Merric Boyd. Boyd's brothers were Penleigh, a landscape artist, and Martin, a writer. His sister was painter Helen Read. Together with his wife, Doris, they raised noted Australian artists including painters Arthur and David, and sculptor Guy. Subsequent generations of the Boyd family are or were active in the arts.


The second of five children of Arthur Merric Boyd (1862–1940) and Emma Minnie à Beckett (1858–1936) who were both established painters, Boyd was born on 24 June 1888 in the Melbourne suburb of St Kilda, in Victoria. Arthur Merric Boyd and family were supported financially by Merric's maternal grandmother Emma à Beckett. It was Emma's fortune, inherited from her father John Mills, an ex-convict who founded the Melbourne Brewery, that allowed their family to live comfortably.[1] Boyd lived in Sandringham where he was educated at Haileybury College until he was eight. The family moved permanently to the family farm at Yarra Glen and Boyd attended Dookie Agricultural College with aspirations of turning his hand to farming; and then he considered entering the Church of England as a minister; later good model material for Martin Boyd's award-winning 1955 novel, A Difficult Young Man.[2]


In 1908 at Archibald McNair's Burnley Pottery, Boyd successfully threw his first pot. Boyd established a workshop at Murrumbeena and pottery kilns were established there in 1911 with the support of his family. He studied under Bernard Hall and Frederick McCubbin at the National Gallery School and held his first exhibition of stoneware in Melbourne in 1912 and his second exhibition soon afterwards. Boyd was employed by Hans Fyansch of the Australian Porcelain Works, Yarraville.[2]

In 1915 he married Doris Lucy Eleanor Bloomfield Gough, a fellow student and potter. Boyd joined the Australian Flying Corps but was discharged later in England. Before returning to Australia in September 1919 he undertook training in pottery technique at Josiah Wedgwood and Sons', Stoke-on-Trent.[2]

Boyd's best works were produced between 1920 and 1930; mostly pieces for domestic use, often decorated by Doris, and some pottery sculptures. He and Doris often used Australian flora and fauna as decorative tools, in spite of his aversion to creating works that would sell well.[2] The Boyd's Murrumbeena workshop was destroyed by fire in 1926.[3] Boyd worked commercially and was able to provide for his family as he and Doris raised painters Arthur and David, and sculptor Guy and their two daughters Lucy and Mary. Mary, the youngest, married artist John Perceval, and later Sydney Nolan.[4]

Subject to epileptic fits[3] and somewhat of a recluse in his latter years with a strong interest in Christianity, Merric Boyd died at Murrumbeena on 9 September 1959. His wife, Doris, died nine months later.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Niall, Brenda (1988). Martin Boyd: A Life (Print). Carlton, Victoria: Melbourne University Press.
  2. ^ a b c d e Tipping, Marjorie J. "Boyd, William Merric (1888–1959)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. National Centre of Biography, Australian National University. Retrieved 20 May 2013.
  3. ^ a b Smith, Sue (1999). "Arthur Boyd (1920–1999): An obituary". Grafico Topico. Retrieved 19 May 2013.
  4. ^ Niall, Brenda (2002). The Boyds. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press. ISBN 0-522-84871-0.

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