Arthur Boyd

(1920 – 1999)

Collectors Show

13 October – 4 November


Born in Melbourne on 24 July 1920, Arthur Merric Bloomfield Boyd was primarily a painter but has also worked as a ceramic artist, tapestry designer, and printmaker.

His first etchings were made in about 1946 when working with Jessie Traill, a neighbour at Harkaway near Melbourne. This was followed by a few lithographs were produced in 1953 while working at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology.

Boyd moved to London in 1959. It was while in England that Boyd took up printmaking seriously. Between 1962 and 1970 he produced over one hundred prints in etching, aquatints and drypoint – many of which have never been editioned. Boyd also began producing lithographs after visiting Italy in 1964.

Working both in Australia and England Boyd continued to produce prints, many in series. Towards the end of his life he also made collographs.


Lysistrata, a suite of 30 etchings, was inspired by Aristophanes’ bawdy comedy, set in 411 B.C., about the women of Athens who occupy the Acropolis. Withholding their sexual favours from their lovers, the women refused to surrender until the men of Athens and Sparta end the Peloponnesian war.

Boyd was inspired by the great ancient Greek writer of comedy, Aristophanes, whose plays combined fantasy, wit and graceful lyrics with serious criticism of politics, manners, education, music and literature. The translation used by Boyd was by the London based Australian writer and scholar, Jack Lindsay (son of Norman Lindsay).

Commissioned by Ganymed Original Editions, London, Lysistrata was produced in 1970 during the Vietnam War, so while Boyd comically illustrates Aristophanes’ witty tale, the underlying theme is the futility of war. The women take action, highlighting the price women pay in war is too high – losing husbands, lovers and sons.

We were encouraged to suggest to him (Boyd) a suite of etchings based on Aristophanes’ Lysistrata. ...he went to work on the subject which so obviously inspired him. Two months later he had a display of forty proofs on the wall of his studio – a staggering exhibition of dramatic invention and brilliant technique, completely original and at an antipodean distance from such famous predecessors as Beardsley and Picasso.
Bernhard Baer, Ganymed Director.