Art Nomad
Art Nomad
Brighton, Victoria 3186 Australia
Ph: 0407 501 808
ABN: 66 086 690 771
Send us an E-mail

Click an Image below to Enlarge

William (Wim) BOISSEVAIN (b.1927; d.2023)

Photo of Artist

William Boissevain was born in New York in 1927 to Dutch parents. He was christened Willem Geoffrey Boissevain and his parents affectionately called him “Wim”. His father was in the diplomatic service, which meant the family travelled widely in Boissevain’s younger years including to America, Asia and Peru. * Moving between postings, Boissevain spent a lot of time on ships and, as an only child, drawing became his solace. He comments: “During this time on ships I did a great deal of portrait work, quick sketches of people, and I had rather a facility with likenesses and I found it great fun to, at a very early age, to capture likeness and for this thing to be shown around. It was more or less a feeling of being able to do something that other children couldn’t.” **

Boissevain studied at L'Academie des Beaux Arts, Paris, and went on to study at the Central School of Arts and Crafts, London.

In 1947, Boissevain went to Perth to visit his mother who had emigrated there. *** Boissevain decided to join her and he was naturalised in 1949. He lived and worked in Perth for the rest of his life, seduced by the rich beauty of the Western Australian landscape. He established a studio in the Darling Ranges near Perth and developed an international reputation as one of Australia’s most distinguished artists. He lived in the beautiful hills area of Glen Forrest.

From 1951 to 1955 he taught drawing and French at Wesley College in Perth and, later, he taught art at Perth Technical College.

In his early years establishing himself as an artist, portraiture became an important money earner and, even while teaching, he began to gain commendation for his skill. *

Wim’s first solo exhibition was held at the Skinner Gallery in Perth in 1964-5, where he exhibited again in 1969 and 1971. The decorative style of his approach, his eye for line and form, and a strong sense of colour soon made his work universally popular. In 1976, he began exhibiting at the Holdsworth Gallery in Sydney. Since then, he has exhibited widely in Perth, Sydney and Melbourne.

**** In 1959, Wim was awarded the Claude Hotchin Art Prize. He also won the Helena Rubenstein Prize for Portraiture in 1961 and the Perth Prize for Drawing International in 1971. He was awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1978 for his services to the advancement of art.**** A book, William Boissevain: a passion for colour, by Gavin Fry with foreword by Janet Holmes a Court, was published in 1998 with a second edition in 2001.

Boissevain was an extremely gifted artist who had devoted the majority of his life to capturing still life and nuance of the female form. Boissevain depicted the beauty of nature in all forms - flowers, fruit, people, animals and Australian landscapes, employing a strong realist style and distinctive technique which layers delicate oil washes over expressive brush drawing. His oil washed nudes are skilful and sensitive studies of the female figure in repose.

He had developed unique methods and techniques to capture the essence and position of the models and sitters. Primarily, his figurative works are layers of rich pastels and charcoal atop colourful oil glazes. *

Boissevain has said of his portrait work: “In my portraits, I try and achieve a likeness which is naturally of great importance, although life is necessary also. If a portrait’s simply a likeness and nothing else, it lacks any interest to the viewer, although in this case I bring in the viewer, I mean also satisfaction to the artist himself. This is a very difficult thing to achieve in a portrait – that is a life.” **

Influenced by some of the greatest painters in European modern history such as Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec and Matisse, Boissevain recollects the time he spent wandering the vast corridors of the Louvre, studying works by such masterful artists. His drawings reflect the precision and skill of the great French masters while also embedded with spontaneity of colour, line and form. *

The worldwide influences Boissevain experienced as a child moving from place to place can be seen in his bird and flower studies and his evocative Australian landscapes which possess an almost oriental lyrical beauty of understated line and colour.

Boissevain's works are held in Collections across Australia, including the National Gallery of Australia, the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra, the Art Gallery of Western Australia and the Art Gallery of Tasmania as well as other regional galleries, corporate collections and Universities throughout Australia and in London and Hong Kong. His works are also held in many important private collections including H.R.H. The Prince of Wales, Baroness Bentinck - Switzerland, The Emir of Bahrain, Sir Vincent Fairfax, The Holmes a Court Collection, Lady McMahon, Sir Val Duncan, The Hon. Malcom Fraser AC, Bailleau Myer, Garrick Agnew, Daniel Hill, Kamahl, ABBA and David Addenbrooke.****


* William Boissevain, 2018 ** William Boissevain: In their own words, Transcript, National Portrait Gallery, Recorded 1965*** William Boissevain, Painter, Mundaring Hills Open Studio ****Exhibitions & Awards, William Boissevain, 2018


Additional information

< Back to Artists


NOTICE: The browser you are using is not capable of rendering this website correctly. Click here for more information.