OBITUARY: Lindsay Boynton

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The Independent Online
Lindsay Boynton made an important contribution to the study of furniture history and helped develop the subject as an academic discipline. He was a pioneer in establishing the study of the decorative arts in British universities, demonstrating through his meticulous scholarship that the history of furnishings and interiors was a natural complement to architectural history both in visual - that is to say art-historical terms - and as a substantive part of social and economic history. In 1964 he was the principal founder of the Furniture History Society; he acted as its Honorary Secretary until 1981.

Boynton began as a Tudor historian at Leeds University from 1958 to 1966, publishing his book The Elizabethan Militia in 1967. His interest in furniture was already evident, as in 1965 he had published the first of many erudite articles in Furniture History, on "The Bed-bug and the 'Age of Elegance' ".

In 1966 Boynton moved to Westfield College, London, where in 1972 he became a Reader in History. He published numerous articles on furniture- makers and designers including Thomas Chippendale, Ince and Mayhew and Sheraton. He developed two innovative courses in the study of furniture and interiors, 1600-1800, and their relationship to architecture in Britain and Europe which helped develop an interdisciplinary approach to the study of visual culture.

His interest in social history focused on the travel diaries of the Worsley family in the 18th century. Boynton established Sir Richard Worsley, British Resident in Venice from 1793, as one of Britain's most notable collectors of paintings and antiquities. Boynton's elegant writing presented Georgian society entertainingly. He revealed the private life of Lord Burlington and the society scandals of Regency England without passing judgement. But his enthusiasm for the lavish banquets and private musical performances by artists such as Handel betrayed his own love of a good dinner and passion for music.

In recent years Boynton concentrated on the Gillow family of furniture designers, working in London and Lancaster in the 18th and early 19th centuries. This huge undertaking began in 1967 when he initiated moves to save an archive of Gillow's business activities from export. He built up an invaluable visual record of the firm's work. Last year saw the publication of the first of two planned volumes on Gillow: Gillow Furniture Designs 1760-1800. A complementary study of the history of the firm was in preparation at the time of Boynton's sudden death.

Throughout his career Boynton published regularly on architectural subjects, helped by his partner David Williams at the camera. His last work, which will appear posthumously, was an essay on the Georgian villas on the Isle of Wight, where he spent much of his early life.

Dana Arnold

Lindsay Oliver John Boynton, art historian: born 20 April 1934; Bryce Research Student, Oxford University 1958-59; assistant lecturer/Lecturer in History, London University 1966-72; Reader in History, Westfield College (later Queen Mary and Westfield College), London 1972-95; died London 12 December 1995.