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.

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Management Trainer

£30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Exciting career opportunity to join East...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Scientist / Research Assistant

£18000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious start-up company b...

Reach Volunteering: Chair of Trustees

VOLUNTARY ONLY - EXPENSES REIMBURSED: Reach Volunteering: Do you love the Engl...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game