A MOONLIT COASTAL LANDSCAPE
Signed with monogram l.r.
26 x 35cm
Private Collection, Scotland
Alice Boyd was born in South Ayrshire, Scotland, in 1825, the daughter of Margaret Losh and Spencer Boyd, 12th Laird of Penkill, whose family had lived at Penkill Castle since the early 16th century.
Her father died when she was only a year old and her mother remarried, to a man named Henry Courtney. Some years later, in 1858, her mother died and Alice moved to Newcastle-on-Tyne to live for a time with her grandfather, William Losh, a prosperous merchant who owned a pharmaceutical business. Whilst staying with her grandfather, Alice met the pre-Raphaelite painter and poet William Bell Scott, who was then master of the Government School of Design in Newcastle, and became his pupil a year later in 1859.
Around this time, Alice moved back to Penkill Castle to live with her elder brother Spencer, the 13th Laird of Penkill, with whom she remained close throughout her life. In 1860, Bell Scott visited Penkill, and during his visit Boyd and he began a romantic relationship that would last until his death in 1890 and would inspire her own artistic practice, as well as influencing his. Although unhappily married, Bell Scott refused to cause a scandal by leaving his wife, and a workable ménage à trois was established in typical Pre-Raphaelite fashion: Boyd would spend winters with William and his wife in London, while they came to Penkill in the summers. Other Pre-Raphaelite artists and their friends also came to Penkill work on their art, including Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Christina Rossetti, and Lawrence Alma-Tadema. In 1862, Dante Gabriel Rossetti drew Boyd's portrait in profile.
Trained by Bell Scott, Boyd worked in similar genres: historical and mythical subjects, landscapes, and portraits. She also illustrated some of Bell Scott's poems. After his death in 1890, her output dropped off steeply. She did not exhibit much, if at all, during her lifetime, and the majority of her work remains in private collections. In 1865, Boyd's brother Spencer died childless and she became the 14th Laird of Penkill and inherited Penkill Castle. She is credited with extending the original Penkill Castle grounds towards the end of the century.