Sunday, 7 February 2016

Blackheath School of Art: The Class of 1904

Percy Noel Boxer

Percy Noel Boxer lived in Lewisham and was a student at the Blackheath School of Art in 1904, at the age of 18.[1] We know this from the Arts and Crafts Magazine review of the students’ exhibition where Boxer’s watercolours were commended among those displayed in this medium. Boxer provided illustrations for James Sully’s Italian Travel Sketches published in 1912. These illustrations couple the rustic charm of neglected buildings and acute observations of everyday life in Rome, Palremo and Subiaco. One such highlight depicts a priest in his robes and wearing a hat, carrying an umbrella on his approach to the Papal Palace in Vitterbo.[2]

In 1920, a year after Boxer’s death at 33, a book featuring his sketches and those of Dorothy Woollard were published together in a tome entitled London: A Riverside Sketchbook. Many of these sketches feature south east London including Greenwich, Charlton and Blackwall. They provide a fascinating look back at London of the early twentieth century and the Thames which is ever changing. These drawings were also published, along with a note on the artist, in The Studio in the April 1916 edition. Percy Buckman’s notes accompanying this article reveal that Boxer was suffering from ill health and hadn’t been able to continue working at full capacity for some time.[3]

Cannon Street Station from London: A Riverside Sketchbook

A Corner Shop, Greenwich from London: A Riverside Sketchbook

McCormick’s excellent website focuses on Percy’s younger brother, Lieutenant Harold Stephen Boxer. The Boxer family resided at 151 Burnt Ash Hill Lewisham and were affluent enough to be able to afford domestic help.
[2] Sully, James, Italian Travel Sketches, London, 1912. Portal and Loggia of Papal Palace, Vitterbo Before the Restoration of 1903 facing page 152.
[3] Buckman, Percy, “Pencil Drawings of Greenwich by Percy Noel Boxer”, The Studio, April 1916, pp. 155 – 162.

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