Boughton, George Henry (DNB12)

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BOUGHTON, GEORGE HENRY (1833–1905), painter and illustrator, was born on 4 Dec. 1833, at a village near Norwich where his father, William Boughton, was occupied in farming. Taken by his parents to America in 1834, he was educated at the High School, Albany, New York. At an early age he began painting without any regular teacher, and won success by the exhibition of his picture 'The Wayfarer' at the American Art Union Exhibition in New York. In 1856 he spent some months in travelling, sketching, and studying art in the British Isles; and returning to New York made his next success with 'Winter Twilight,' exhibited in 1858 at the New York Academy of Design. In 1860 he went to Paris, not entering on any regular course of study, but receiving much help from Edward May, a pupil of Couture, and afterwards from Edouard Frère. After working for two years in France, he started on his homeward journey, but made a halt in London, and finally settled there for the rest of his career. In 1862 and 1863 he exhibited two pictures each year at the British Institution. To the Royal Academy in 1863 he contributed 'Through the Fields' and 'Hop-pickers returning'; and from this year till his death never failed to exhibit annually, sending eighty-seven pictures in all. He became an associate of the Royal Academy in 1879, and a full member in 1896. In 1879 he was elected a member of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water-colour. Never attempting anything beyond his range, Boughton brought his freshness of imagination to bear on a variety of themes, noteworthy always for their delicate poetry and touch of sentiment. Whether grave or gay, imaginative or seriously didactic, he stamped his work with a personal and original touch. Two classes of subject he made peculiarly his own: the one, scenes of peasant life and quaint costume in Brittany and Holland; the other, New England history and romance in the puritan days of Evangeline and Hester Prynne. His 'Weeding the Pavement' (1882) is in the Tate Gallery; 'The Road to Camelot' (1898) in the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool; and 'A Dutch Ferry' (1883) in the Whitworth Institute, Manchester. Other of his more important works are 'The Waning of the Honeymoon' (1878); 'Hester Prynne' (1881); 'Muiden, N. Holland'; 'An Exchange of Greetings' (1882); 'Milton visited by Andrew Marvell' (1885); 'Golden Afternoon, the Isle of Wight' (1888, now in the Metropolitan Museum, New York); 'After Midnight Mass, 15th Century' (1897); and 'When the Dead Leaves Fall' (1898, Municipal Gallery, Rome).

Boughton also made a name as an illustrator; and his water-colours, pastels, and black-and-white drawings were remarkable for their fine quality. Among books which he illustrated were 'Rip Van Winkle' (1893), and, for the Grolier Club of New York, Irving's 'Knickerbocker History' (1886) and Hawthorne's 'Scarlet Letter.' His 'Sketching Rambles in Holland' (1885) is noteworthy not only for its illustrations, by Boughton and his fellow-traveller, Edwin Austin Abbey [q. v. Suppl. II], but for the vividness and charm of its narrative. Boughton also contributed short stories, from time to time, to 'Harper's Magazine' and the 'Pall Mall Magazine,' and for the 'Studio' (xxx. 1904) he wrote an interesting article on his friend Whistler, under the title of 'A Few of the Various Whistlers I have known.'

Boughton died on 19 Jan. 1905, from heart disease, at his residence, West House, Campden Hill, which had been built for him by his friend, Mr. Norman Shaw. He was cremated at Golder's Green, where his ashes are deposited. An exhibition of his remaining works was held at the Leicester Galleries in 1905 (Catalogue with prefatory note by A. L. Baldry). On 9 Feb. 1865 he married Katherine Louisa, daughter of Thomas Cullen, M.D. A portrait of him by John Pettie [q. v.] is in the Metropolitan Museum, New York.

[The Portfolio, 1871, art. by Sir Sidney Colvin; G. H. Boughton, R.A., his Life and Work, by A. L. Baldry (Art Journal, Christmas Art Annual, 1904); The Times, 21 Jan. 1905; Who's Who, 1905; Graves' British Institution and Royal Acad. Exhibitors; private information.]

M. H.