Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Boxall, William
BOXALL, Sir WILLIAM (1800–1879), portrait-painter, the son of an Oxfordshire exciseman, was born on 29 June 1800. He was educated at the grammar school at Abingdon, and entered the schools of the Royal Academy in 1819. In 1827 he went to Italy, and resided there for about two years. He first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1823 'Jupiter and Latona' and 'Portrait of Master Maberley,' and in the following year 'The Contention of Michael and Satan for the Body of Moses.' In 1831 appeared 'Lear and Cordelia,' which was engraved in Finden's 'Gallery.' Boxall painted the portraits of many literary and artistic celebrities, among them those of Allan Cunningham (1836), Walter Savage Landor (1851), David Cox (1857), and Copley Fielding; the last now hangs in the National Portrait Gallery. In 1859 he painted for Trinity House a portrait of the prince consort, wearing the robes of master of the corporation. He excelled in the portrayal of female beauty, and many of his works of that class were engraved in the publications of the day. He exhibited at the Royal Academy altogether eighty-six portraits. In 1851 he was elected an associate of the academy, and in 1863 a full academician. Two years afterwards, in 1865, he succeeded Sir Charles Eastlake in the directorship of the National Gallery, which post he held until 1874. In 1867 he received the honour of knighthood.
During Boxall's administration the picture by Rembrandt of 'Christ blessing Little Children,' known as the 'Suermondt Rembrandt,' was secured for the National Gallery; also 'The Entombment,' attributed to Michelangelo Buonarroti, the authenticity of which was the subject of some discussion in the 'Times' in September 1881. In 1874, when the Peel collection was offered to the nation, Boxall had already resigned his post in consequence of failing health, but his successor not having been appointed, Mr. Lowe (now Lord Sherbrooke), the chancellor of the exchequer, entrusted him with the negotiation, which he brought to a successful issue. He died on 6 Dec. 1879. One of his works, entitled 'Geraldine,' and representing a lady at her toilette, is in the National Gallery.
[Ottley's Biographical and Critical Dictionary of Recent and Living Painters, &c., London, 1866, 8vo; Art Journal, 1880, p. 83.]