OBITUARY:Stephen Boyd

Stephen Boyd, together with his lifelong partner, Philip Graham, ran a gallery in London which specialised in the male figure, a genre which most art galleries refused and an unfamiliar area of art history. The gallery was courageous in the work it showed, and diligent in searching out and promoting art by young, adventurous and gifted artists.

At Sherborne School, Boyd developed his musical skills, becoming an accomplished pianist and organist. At Durham University he studied archaeology and theology, undecided then which to make his career. In the event he rejected both, and moved into the retail trade; he worked first for Harrods before moving on for a productive period with Terence Conran at Habitat, then in its heady early days, attracted by the idea of a retail business which efficiently sold well-designed objects at reasonable cost. An interest in antiques, in particular 18th- and early 19th-century ceramics, led Boyd and Graham to open a shop in Somerset in the late 1970s, and in the mid-1980s they moved to St Judes, a tiny shop and basement in Kensington Church Street, which became one of London's leading ceramic specialists.

With an interest in visual art, they became aware of a gap in the market, as most art galleries refused to show images of the male figure. Gradually ceramics gave way to figurative art, with the gallery specialising in Old Master and academic drawings of the male figure, many done in the 19th century, as well as work by living artists. With no financial backing, it was always a high-risk endeavour, but both partners were totally committed to the project.

Their exhibition programme was varied and imaginative. As well as the male nudes, there were exhibitions of delightful, but little-known drawings by Cecil Beaton, and studies of the male figure by Keith Vaughan, introducing the work of these distinguished artists to a new audience. The majority of the shows featured the work of young or lesser-known painters. Over the years, these included the delicate, sensitive water-colours of David Hutter and the fresh, bold and sexy oils of Philip Core. Notable artists showing in a gallery for the first time included Peter Samuelson, Gavin Marghfling and Stuart Bullen.

Sadly, St Judes closed in 1993, but in the last few years Boyd was able to make a memorable visit to the Bayreuth Festival, and to travel down the Nile on a barge. His humanist concerns, his wry humour, but above all his devotion to art concerned with the qualities of the human spirit in all its diversity, have left a lasting mark on the London art scene, opening up fresh areas of interest, and confronting much of the prejudice around the figurative work. Boyd was a pioneer who was fearless in fighting to promote the art and artists in which he believed.

Small in stature and with a wiry figure, Stephen Boyd was a fighter, both in the way he worked for and persisted in the schemes he thought important, and in his battle against encroaching poor health and physical incapacity brought on by Aids-related illness.

Stephen Boyd, art dealer: born Sutton, Surrey 17 September 1946; died London 18 May 1995.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: HR Manager

£36000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Ashdown Group: HR Manager Shared Services - Uxbridge, - 1 Year contract

£50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Manager Shared Services - Uxbridge, Stock...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Human Resource Officer and Executive Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join one of...

Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events business) - Central Manchester - £20K

£18000 - £20000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events busi...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk