Born in Norwich, England as a farmer's son, Boughton emigrated to Albany, New York with his family at the age of three. At age nineteen, and without the benefit of formal training, he sold his first painting, The Wayfarer , at the American Art Union exhibition. In 1858 he exhibited Winter Twilight at the New York Academy of Design. His influences included Edward May, with whom he studied during a visit to Paris, and Édouard Frère. In 1862 two of Boughton's paintings were exhibited in the British Institution. He submitted two pieces to the Royal Academy in 1863, and over the next forty-two years Boughton exhibited eighty-seven pieces there. He made London his permanent home in 1862, married Katherine Louise Cullen on Feb. 9, 1865, became a full member of the Royal Academy in 1896, and died in 1905 of heart disease (Hardie).
Described by Mrs. Aldrich as a "Royal Academician and charming artist,” the true extent of Boughton’s connection to Pfaff’s is unknown, but we know he did move within the social group (Aldrich 231-2). Mark Lause connects Boughton and other members of the Hudson River School to Pfaff’s as these Pfaffian artists were moved by more “natural and exotic themes” rather than the economically stable portraiture of the “high and mighty” (62). Lathrop, a writer for Harper’s, does lists Boughton as a member of the Pfaff’s group and asserts that he may have been involved in the production of the Saturday Press : “This was Pfaff's; and thus arose the 'Pfaff group,' which assisted in the publication of the Saturday Press, and included in its circle Walt Whitman, Fitz-James O'Brien, T.B. Aldrich, and William Winter, with the painters George H. Boughton, Homer Martin, Winslow Homer, and some whose names are less widely known” (Lathrop 832). William Winter also lists him as someone who frequented Pfaff's and is also mentioned as a member of "Sol's [Eytinge] group of artistic companionship" (Old Friends 66, 319). We do know that he was a tenant of the Tenth Street Studio building from 1857-61 which helps establish Boughton’s connection to well-known artists and Pfaffians (Blaugrund 133).
Remembered as a figure and genre painter, Boughton illustrated works by American writers such as Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Washington Irving. He also wrote a narrative about his travels in Holland, the aptly titled Sketching Rambles in Holland (1885). Along with Elihu Vedder, he is mentioned by contemporaries as one of the most gifted artists of his day. An 1870 art critic suggests that Boughton was a humorist as well as a "poet-painter," and his pictures "have always had something in them--something well rendered, and something personal" (E. Benson 11). His work was also admired by Vincent Van Gogh.
The author cites a letter written by Boughton in which he states: "The practice that one gets in drawing for drawing's sake is very valuable. Nearly all the best artists in England are or have been draughtsmen on wood. Millais was telling me the other day that those who let their practise [sic] of drawing lapse in any degree, fall off at once more or less in their painting" (444).[pages:444]
In London, Mr. and Mrs. Aldrich renewed their friendship with George Boughton and his wife. Mrs. Aldrich describes Boughton as a "Royal Academician and charming artist" (231-232).
Mrs. Aldrich quotes Comyns Carr's description of Boughton: "He achieved in England a deservedly high place among his comrades--he was a man of fine taste and delicate perception both in the region of art and the broader field of literature" (232).
Prior to building a large house on Campden Hill, Mr. and Mrs. Boughton hosted a large artistic circle and their reputation continued after the building of their home. Browning was a frequent visitor, and, according to Mrs. Aldrich, "the house became a meeting-place for nearly all who were interested in art" (232).[pages:231-235]
Boughton's "rapid success since his return to his native land has been owing undoubtedly in part to the fact that not only are his subjects of a popular character, but the treatment also suggests the simplicity, and consequently the consummate art, of the French school, while his color is generally quiet, and, if it does not impress at first, has the quality of growing in favor" (169).[pages:169]
Mentions Boughton in relation to an upcoming artist named Grant.[pages:488]
A biographical profile of the painter. Includes reproductions of his work.[pages:11-13, 12 (ill)]
The column mentions two of Boughton's works as part of the collection of artwork on display during Thursday's reception at Dodworth Hall (2).[pages:2]
The "artist George with the blonde Greek head" mentioned in the poem is probably George Henry Boughton, the one George among the Pfaffians who was an artist.[pages:9]
William Walters was an avid fan of Boughton's work (66).[pages:57, 66, 81, 82, 242, 248, 250]
Described by Lalor as a "non-literary artist," perhaps a painter or a sculptor (3).[pages:3]
A painter. Mentioned as a member of the "'Pfaff group,' which assisted in the publication of the Saturday Press.[pages:832]
Boughton, an artist who visited Pfaff's, is noted as one of the "pioneering landscape painters" of the time (62).[pages:62, 114]
Appleton locates Boughton's American popularity beginning with his return from England to New York in 1855.[pages:328]
He is listed as one of the artists that came to Pfaff's (66). Boughton is also mentioned as a member of "Sol's [Eytinge] group of artistic companionship" (319).[pages:66,319]
George H. Boughton.
SOURCE: Aldrich, Thomas Bailey, Mrs. Crowding Memories. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1920.
The Vault at Pfaff's
27 Memorial Drive West, Bethlehem, PA 18015