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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Arthur Boyd, 1962

Axel Poignant

gelatin silver photograph on paper (sheet: 46.5 cm x 32.0 cm)

Arthur Boyd (1920–1999), painter, potter and printmaker, was from a family of distinguished artists and attended classes at the National Gallery School in Melbourne before opting to live with his grandfather, Arthur Merric Boyd, and learn from him. Conscripted on the outbreak of World War 2, he served with the Cartographic Unit between 1941 and 1944. Though he never saw any action, the horrors of the war supplied the subject matter for Boyd’s work, his intense, dark and expressionistic vision shared by his friends Sidney Nolan, Albert Tucker, Joy Hester and John Perceval. His work of the late 1940s explored current events through stories from the Bible; and his Half-caste bride series of paintings of the 1950s raised issues about the treatment of Aboriginal people. He moved to London with his family in 1959, but continued to draw on Australian subjects, achieving critical acclaim for a 1960 solo exhibition of his Bride paintings. In 1966, he worked with the Australian Ballet, designing the sets and costumes for Robert Helpmann’s Electra. Returning to Australia in 1971, he eventually settled at Bundanon on the Shoalhaven River; the property was gifted to Australian people by Boyd and his wife Yvonne in 1993.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2003
© Estate of Axel Poignant

Accession number: 2003.125

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Axel Poignant (age 56 in 1962)

Arthur Boyd (age 42 in 1962)

Subject professions

Visual arts and crafts

Related information

The Companion

Permanent collection catalogue

Café and shop

On one level The Companion talks about the most famous and frontline Australians, but on another it tells us about ourselves: who we read, who we watch, who we listen to, who we cheer for, who we aspire to be, and who we'll never forget. The Companion is available to buy online and in the Portrait Gallery Store.

Self Portrait in red shirt, 1937 by Arthur Boyd
Self Portrait in red shirt, 1937 by Arthur Boyd
Self Portrait in red shirt, 1937 by Arthur Boyd
Self Portrait in red shirt, 1937 by Arthur Boyd

Arthur as Alyosha?

Magazine article by Patrick McCaughey, 2015

Patrick McCaughey explores a striking Boyd self portrait.

Artist and wife near Arthurs Seat, 1969
Artist and wife near Arthurs Seat, 1969
Artist and wife near Arthurs Seat, 1969
Artist and wife near Arthurs Seat, 1969

Through blue eyes

Magazine article by Dr Sarah Engledow, 2009

Works by Arthur Boyd and Sidney Nolan bring the desert, the misty seashore and the hot Monaro plains to exhibition Open Air: Portraits in the landscape.

Self portrait, 1945-46 Arthur Boyd
Self portrait, 1945-46 Arthur Boyd
Self portrait, 1945-46 Arthur Boyd
Self portrait, 1945-46 Arthur Boyd

Mysterious eyes

Arthur Boyd portraits from 1945

Previous exhibition, 2016

Boyd’s self-portrait at age 25 is joined by his equally emotive portraits of those around him.

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© National Portrait Gallery 2020
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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.