Born: 17 February, 1912, in West Lothian
Died: 25 December 2001, in London, aged 89
A GIFTED and talented artist in her own right, Margaret Boden assisted her husband, the portraitist Leonard Boden, throughout their married life. In many ways his output was their output - a very real husband and wife partnership - and the fact that his name appears on no fewer than 18 royal portraits reflects the esteem in which the name was held. Margaret, on her own account, painted many notable portraits as well as some dramatic African landscapes. She often painted animals and children: never in an over-sugary manner but delightfully down-to-earth and natural. So successfully did she capture animals that she was commissioned by the Queen to paint the royal corgis.
Margaret Jean Hill Tulloch was born in Ecclesmachan and brought up in the manse: her father was the eighth generation in the service of the Church of Scotland. Her great grandfather, WW Tulloch, was principal of St Andrews University and chaplain to Queen Victoria. Her father, the Rev APS Tulloch, had been a missionary in India, while her mother, Catherine, was a Macdonald of Glencoe.
At the age of 15, Margaret went to the Glasgow School of Art, where where she met her future husband. They both continued their studies at Heatherley’s School of Fine Art in London. Leonard was quick to receive commissions and painted portraits of Alistair Sim and Sir Donald Wolfit before being asked, in 1957, to paint Pope Pius XII.
Margaret had a considerable input into all such work and Leonard was always keen to acknowledge his debt to her - calling it the "Boden Studio". Over the years, the "Boden Studio" produced several hundred portraits of what Leonard described as "the famous and not so famous".
He completed ten portraits of the Queen with Margaret in attendance. She was far from a pure observer on such occasions, with her own palette and brushes adding some closely observed touches or personal details. They worked together with much ease and were invariably in sympathy with each other’s skills. As to who did what, the couple remained tight-lipped.
Her own commissions included the ballerina Dame Beryl Grey, the pianist Irene Joyce, the Forte family and Baroness Young. She completed her last portrait for the Old Bailey of the retiring Recorder of London, Sir Laurence Verney, at the age of 87.
Margaret Boden was fiercely proud of her Scottish ancestry and exhibited at the Royal Glasgow Institute and the Royal Scottish Academy. She always delighted in telling the story of when the Boden family were asked by the Queen to visit Balmoral to view a sizeable bust of Principal Tulloch, which stands in imposing fashion at the entrance to the dining room. The Queen’s comment when they were standing admiring the bust was short and to the point: "What a splendid set of whiskers!"
Margaret Boden also showed her work for almost half a century with the Royal Society of Portrait Painters and was made an honorary member of the Society of Women Artists.
Although suffering from Alzheimer’s disease in the last few years of her life, she was resilient and courageous to the end. Leonard Boden, whom she married in 1937, predeceased her in 1999 and she is survived by their daughter, Daphne Boden, the concert harpist.