British picture framemakers, 1600-1950 - B
A selective resource, 3rd edition December 2012 (*revised entry, **new entry), last updated March 2016. Contributions welcome, to Jacob Simon at firstname.lastname@example.org
Peter Babell (d.1771) was listed in Long Acre in Mortimer's Universal Director of 1763 as ‘Designer and Modeller. One of the first Improvers of Papier Maché Ornaments for Cielings, Chimney-pieces, Picture-frames, &c’. He took out insurance with the Sun Fire Office as a papier mâché maker from Long Acre, near James St in 1763 and from James St in 1768.
An obituary notice in 1771 described Babell as ‘a draftsman in architectural ornaments, and one who chiefly contributed to improve the Paper-Machee art to its present perfection’ (London Evening Post 28 September 1771). It is unclear whether the design book by ‘Babel of Paris’, A New Book of Ornaments, published in London in 1752, was the work of the Paris-based master, Pierre Edmé Babel (c.1720-1775?) or of Peter Babell in London. In his will, made 7 August 1770 and proved 4 October 1771, Peter Babell of James St in the parish of St Paul Covent Garden, named his wife as Mary Babell and made provision so that she could choose to carry on his business of making papier mâché. He also referred to Peter Smith and Joseph Defoure, probably Joseph Duffour (qv). His widow appears to be the Mary Babell, who married John Cobb on 24 February 1772 at St Paul Covent Garden, probably John Cobb (c.1715-1778), the well-known cabinet-maker of 72 St Martin's Lane.
Little is known of Babell’s work but the Delaval papers document a commission in 1766 when Babell wrote on 24 July to Sir John Hussey Delaval at Doddington Hall, Lincolnshire, mentioning sending ‘The Border for the two Picture Frames’, and continuing, ‘I am Sorry the Work came above the Price that my Lady was pleas’d to mention. I have Charged the very lowest, But the Moulding being so Bold did take more Gold, than I thought at First. I have sanded the ground of the Border to give a Relief to the Ornaments’; Babell charged Delaval £8.15s for 70 feet of ‘Paper machee Rich Border Gilt in Oil Gold’.
Sources: Geoffrey Beard, ‘Babel’s “A New Book of Ornaments”, 1752’, Furniture History, vol.11, 1975, pp.31-2; John Cornforth, ‘Putting up with Georgian DIY’, Country Life, vol.186, 9 April 1992, pp.54-6 (for the Delaval papers, Northumberland Record Office); London Metropolitan Archives, Sun Fire Office policy registers, 144/195788, 150/204877, 180/253389.
William Badger, 97 Boundary Road, St John's Wood, London NW 1871-1887 as carver and gilder, 49 Dorset St, Portman Square 1877-1888 as manufacturing artists’ colourman.
See British artists' suppliers on the National Portrait Gallery website.
John Bainbridge, see Thomas Fentham
William Barry, see Francis Draper
*Samuel Bartington 1816-1845, Mrs Mahala Bartington 1846-1851, Mahala Bartington & Son (also described as M. & B. Bartington) 1852-1860, Benjamin Bartington 1860-1866. At 24 Beckford Row, Walworth, London 1816-1828 or later, 4 Crown Row, Mile End Road 1832-1833, 95 Wardour St 1833-1848, 58 Wardour St 1849-1864, 45 Wardour St 1860, 24 Charlotte St 1865, 53 Wardour St 1866. Carvers and gilders, picture dealers, initially brokers of household goods.
Samuel Barnfield Bartington (1783-1845), initially a cabinetmaker, traded as a broker and picture dealer. After his death, his wife Mahala (d.1860) and youngest son Benjamin (b.1828) traded as picture framemakers. She died at 58 Wardour St in 1860, leaving effects worth under £200.
Samuel and Mahala Bartington had eight children between 1814 and 1828. In the baptismal registers for his children he is described as a cabinetmaker (in 1820 as a broker), resident at Princes St, Walworth in 1814 and 1816 and thereafter at Beckford Row, Walworth. Samuel Bartington traded as a broker of household goods at 23 and 24 Beckford Row, Walworth, according to his fire insurance policy of 16 December 1816 (London Metropolitan Archives, Sun Fire Office policy registers, vol.472). By 1823 he was dealing in pictures, occasionally advertising the sale of portraits (The Times 28 May 1823, 20 May 1841).
Framing work: In 1853 M. & B. Bartington, claiming the business to have been established for 30 years, advertised 'their large collection of ancient and modern carved frames, of the most choice and scarce patterns; likewise a large assortment of carved and composition gilt frames ready for use' (The Times 14 May 1853). M. & B. Bartington framed G.F. Watts's portrait, Father of the Artist, 1833 (Watts Gallery, Compton) in a complex moulding frame with a label from 58 Wardour St, and therefore probably dating to the 1850s (information from Lynn Roberts).
*Frederick Bartram, 3 Grafton Place, Euston Square, London by 1871-1881 or later. Carver and gilder.
Frederick Bartram (1827-1883?) was born in Stamford and was recorded there in the 1851 census as a carpenter, age 24. He was in London by 1855 when he married Charlotte Chapman at St Pancras parish chapel, with his brother Alfred as one of the witnesses. In subsequent census records, he was recorded in 1861 at 33 Gordon Square, St Pancras, as a carpenter and joiner, with his wife Charlotte and two children, and in 1881 at 3 Grafton Place as a master carver and gilder, age 53, born Stamford, with his wife and four children, including his eldest son, William, age 21, listed as a carver and gilder.
Dante Gabriel Rossetti used Frederick Bartram for moving and repairing a pagoda cabinet in 1870, and proposed to use him for framing work in 1871 (Fredeman, letters 70.50 and 71.176). In 1876 Rossetti tried ‘L. Bartram', probably the same individual, for picture framing, following a disagreement with Foord & Dickinson (qv); however, he criticised Bartram’s work and in the process he provoked a strong reaction from this framemaker: ‘The punched design on the flat I consider the best I have ever done in my life, in fact, the frame is a perfect specimen of good workmanship and materials of unsurpassed quality’ (Fredeman, letter 76.90, see also Simon 1996 pp.88, 89). John Everett Millais used Bartram for unspecified work, for which Bartram acknowledged payment in 1871 (Tate Archive, Millais loan, item 1/67).
For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.
Contributed by Eveleigh Bradford, Leeds, January 2014
Edmund Bates, Leeds. Carver and gilder, picture framemaker, picture dealer.
Edmund Bates (c.1816-1896) was an influential figure in the art world in Leeds from the 1860s to the 1880s, both as a picture dealer and as a strongly-opinionated writer on art and the cultivation of individual taste. He was an active supporter of the Leeds artist, Atkinson Grimshaw, possibly influencing his decision in 1861 to give up his work as a railway clerk to become a professional artist, and promoting his work to potential buyers. He was an enthusiast for the Pre-Raphaelite movement, particularly Dante Gabriel Rossetti with whom he had some correspondence, and for whom he acted briefly as agent. 
Edmund Bates was born c.1816 in Morpeth, Northumberland, but by his early 20s was working in Leeds as a carver.  In the 1840s he was in partnership, firstly with John Storry until 1845, and then with James Adams as Bates & Adams, carvers and gilders, 5 Gascoigne Yard, Boar Lane, Leeds.  In 1849 the firm is recorded as having made the ‘massive and richly gilt’ frame for the portrait of Dr Samuel Sebastian Wesley by W.K. Briggs, presented to Dr Wesley on his departure from Leeds Parish Church and now in the possession of the Royal College of Music, London.  By 1849 the firm had moved to 9 Basinghall St, but the partnership was dissolved in 1851, and by 1853 Edmund Bates was running the business there on his own.  In July 1863 Bates moved his showroom and workshop to 1 Upper Fountaine St, Leeds,  where he was to remain for more than 20 years. It was also his family home, with his wife (Sarah Kitchen, whom he had married in Skipton in 1843) and six children. 
The Leeds 1862 exhibition and its aftermath: In 1862 there was a call for the loan of works of art for a major exhibition marking the opening of the newly extended Lecture Hall and Museum of the elite Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society, in Park Row, Leeds. Described as ‘one of the most important art exhibitions ever held in Leeds’,  with loans from the Royal collection and South Kensington as well as from many of the local gentry, the event attracted over 35,000 (fee-paying) visitors during the six weeks it was on. Some 200 pictures were on display; Edmund Bates lent four, all by Atkinson Grimshaw.
Bates evidently visited the exhibition many times and set out his views on the selection and standard of the work on display in a printed pamphlet (1863), expressed in the form of a letter to one of the influential members of the Society,  explaining his thoughts, in elevated and emotional style, not only on the exhibition but also on art in general. The pamphlet was entitled ‘Observations on Art Proper: its dignity, true principles and aim; with hints on the successful cultivation of individual tastes; having special reference to the Collection of Pictures now exhibiting in the Philosophical Hall, Leeds.’  He picked out various artists for praise, notably Rossetti, and made a passionate plea on behalf of Atkinson Grimshaw. The pamphlet included a useful record of all the pictures on display: their titles, artists and owners.
The pamphlet was presumably circulated among the members of the Philosophical and Literary Society, the leading citizens of Leeds, and may have reached a wider audience. Ellen Heaton of Leeds, a collector and friend of the Rossettis, sent a copy to Dante Gabriel Rossetti who kept it in his library.  A further booklet was published by Bates in 1868, in Leeds and London: ‘A few observations and suggestions on art and art culture, having especial reference to the intended formation of a permanent public gallery in Leeds.  This includes his proposals for an Art School.
Bates evidently saw himself as an informed critic and arbiter of taste: he wrote letters to the newspapers commenting at length on local art exhibitions,  and his newspaper advertisements in the early 1870s stressed the high standard of his collection of fine art, particularly old masters, ‘deservedly entitled to a place in the best collections’. 
Later years: In 1878 his business clearly struck a bad patch, and went into liquidation. All his stock was put up for auction: oil paintings by Hogarth, Tintoretto, Gainsborough, Turner, Breughel, Constable and others; etchings and prints; watercolours; ceramics and curios; and his library of some 2000 books.  However he managed to survive: in 1881 he was still working as a carver and gilder, and employing three men.  In 1884 he was engaged by the Corporation to oversee the selection and hanging of the art exhibition held to mark the opening of the new Free Library and Museum in Leeds. This was an important exhibition, seen as the first step towards providing a permanent public art gallery for Leeds, which he and many others had advocated.  However, it does not appear that he was involved in the arrangements when the Leeds Fine Art Gallery finally opened in 1888.
By that time Bates had moved to new work premises at 46 Great George St in Leeds and was living in College St.  He continued in business until his death in May 1896, aged 79. In his obituary he was said to have been ‘well-known as an art dealer and adviser with exhibitions of art’. 
Sources:  ‘The Correspondence of Dante Gabriel Rossetti’, ed. William E. Fredeman, letters 1879-81, ref. 79.93; 79.119; 79.119.1; 79.141;79.142; 79.148; 79.149; 79.150; 79.154; 79.177; 79.209; 79.214; 79.218; 80.1; 80.12; 80.18; 80.26; 80.30; 80.33; 80.36; 80.73; 80.88; 80.99; 80.119; 80.154; 80.250; 80.257; 80.264; 81.18.  1841 Census Return HO107/1349/4, sheet 22 [wrongly transcribed as Edmund Bat]. He was in lodgings.  London Gazette 27 June 1846; Williams’ Directory of Leeds, 1845; Charlton’s Directory of Leeds, 1847.  Leeds Mercury 1 December, 1849. The RCM confirms that the portrait is still in its original frame.  London Gazette 31 January 1851; White’s Directory of Leeds, 1853.  Notice in the Leeds Mercury 11 July 1863.  Census Returns, 1861, 1871, 1881.  Leeds Mercury 13 December 1862.  Joseph Dempsey Holdforth, a wealthy silk merchant who evidently had a considerable collection and lent a number of pictures for the exhibition.  Copy in the University of Leeds Library Special Collections, ref. Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society: Y BAT.  Rossetti thanked Ellen Heaton for the pamphlet ‘which is full of refreshing enthusiasm for Art’ (letter 63.19 of The Correspondence of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, ed. William E. Fredeman.) For his library, see www.rossettiarchive.org/docs/dgrlibrary.rad.html .  Leeds Local Studies Library, ref. 701B31L. An extract was printed in the Leeds Mercury 9 June 1868.  Letter on the Bramley Art Exhibition, Leeds Mercury 30 July 1872; letter reviewing the 1875 Yorkshire Exhibition, Leeds Mercury 19 May 1875. He also published in 1872 an impassioned critique in verse of Walter Thornbury’s biography of J.M.W. Turner, calling himself ‘a Hewer of Wood’ (Leeds Art Library, ref. ALSR759.2TUR).  Leeds Mercury 5 September 1874, 8 September 1874, 3 October 1874.  London Gazette 3 May 1878. Advertisement in the Leeds Mercury 4 May 1878. Unlike other fine art dealers he did not charge for admission to his gallery: was this an aspect of his business failure?  1881 Census Return: he and his family were still at 1 Upper Fountaine Street. He was 64.  Leeds Mercury 5 September 1884, 6 September 1884, 23 September 1884, 23 October 1884. In response to implied criticism, he published a pamphlet ‘Fine Art versus Local Journalism: Leeds First Public Library Exhibition’, Leeds 1884 (Leeds Local Studies Library, ref. L708B318).  Kelly’s Directory of Leeds, 1888, 1893; 1891 Census Return: by this time he was widowed, his wife having died in 1889.  Leeds Mercury 13 May 1896. He was buried at St Michael’s Church, Headingley, where his wife and eldest son George, who died of tuberculosis aged 34 in 1880, were also buried.
Added March 2013
Charles Bathurst,5 Ranelagh Road, Westborne Square, Paddington, London 1871-1891, road renumbered 1891/2, 39 Ranelagh Road 1892-1906. Carver, gilder and picture framemaker.
Charles Bathurst (c.1829-1914) may be the individual christened on 22 August 1830 at St Martin-in-the-Fields, the son of George and Susanna Bathurst. His first wife, May Calder, died age 45 in 1867 and he remarried in 1869, to Eliza Farnden. He can be found in eight successive censuses (with his stated age varyingly suggesting that he was born between 1827 and 1829): in 1841, age 14, in the household of Elizabeth Bathurst, staymaker, age 60, in Bethnal Green; in 1851 in the household of Francis Gray, bootmaker, in Soho, when he was described as Gray’s son-in-law and a gilder, age 23, with George Bathurst, also described as a son-in-law, a picture framemaker, age 24; in 1861 in Paddington as a gilder, age 32, with his wife Mary, age 40, sons, Charles, age 4, born New York (where Bathurst and his wife had travelled in 1855), and George, age 3, born Soho, London; in 1871, 1881 and 1891 at 5 Ranelagh Road in Paddington as a carver and gilder, with his second wife, Eliza; in 1871 and 1881 with the children from his first marriage, Charles, George and Norman; in 1901 as an employer and carver and gilder at 29 Ranelagh Road; and in 1911 as a retired carver and gilder living with his wife in Maida Vale. He died in the Paddington district, age 85, in 1914.
His son, George Percy Bathurst, took on the business at 39 Ranelagh Road from 1907, continuing it at this address until at least 1930.
Picture framing work: Bathurst used his framing label, found on the picture by Philip H. Calderon described below, to advertise as a carver, gilder and picture framemaker, offering the usual services to clean, line and restore pictures, to clean and restore old prints, to mount drawings and to regild old frames. He provided the frame for Calderon’s Elizabeth Woodville, widow of Edward IV, parting with her younger son, the Duke of York, 1893, a running overlapping small-scale leaf pattern (Queensland Art Gallery, Australia, information from Robert Zilli, February 2013). There are three frames with Bathurst’s framing label in the Victoria and Albert Museum, given in 2000 by Mrs Lucy Jebb, a descendant of the architect John Hungerford Pollen, and one of these frames may possibly have been used for Pollen's 1887 Royal Academy exhibit, Ceiling for Blickling Hall.
Added March 2016
William Bayly, 15 Marshall St, Golden Square, London 1817-1872. Carver, gilder and picture framemaker.
This long-running little-known business at 15 Marshall St forms a bridge between Charles Salmon (qv), who was at this address at the beginning of the 19th century, and another carver and gilder, Charles Mitchell May (qv), at the end of the century, meaning that these premises were used for the same trade for more than a century. William Bayly took over the premises at 15 Marshall St in 1817 or a few years earlier and used a very similar trade card to Salmon, both in design and wording, describing himself and his business as ‘W. Bayly, (Successor to Mr. Salmon) Carver Gilder, & Frame Maker to their Royal Highnesses the Prince of Wales & the Dukes of York and Clarence, Marshal Street, Golden Square, London. Funerals Performed.’ Salmon in his turn took the design from his predecessor at these premises, Sefferin Nelson (qv).
William Bayly (c.1785-1870) seems to have occupied the Marshall St premises for some 55 years, although the business was perhaps run by his son from about 1850. Described as a gilder of 15 Marshall Street, he took an apprentice gilder, Bernard William Holmes, in 1836 (Westminster Archives, indenture, Acc 2355). He can be found living in Chelsea in census records, in 1841 and 1851 in Sloane St; in 1851 at the age of 66 he was described as a proprietor of houses whereas his son, William Francis, living with him, was recorded as a woodcarver. Rather similarly, in 1861 the father was described as a freeholder and the son as a master gilder. He died in Chelsea, age 85, in November 1870, with his son, William Francis Bayly, as sole executor, leaving effects worth under £12,000. While the business was still listed in the 1872 London Post Office directory, in the printed electoral register that year Bayly was marked in pen as dead. It may be that the son continued the business as long as needed to wind it up. The Bayly business at 15 Marshall St was followed by that of another carver and gilder, Charles Mitchell May, in 1873, although it is not clear whether this transition included Bayly’s good will.
The son, William Francis Bayly (1816-1905), was born and baptised at St James Westminster in 1816. In the 1881 census, he was recorded as a proprietor of houses, indicating a private income, with his sisters. He died in 1905, leaving an estate worth £26,520.
James Bazin, see Benjamin Charpentier
William Beaumont may be the picture framer of this name, of St John the Evangelist Westminster, who took George Eller as an apprentice in 1764. He married Sarah Vialls at St Martin-in-the-Fields in September 1779. His trade card, bearing the date 1788 (Banks coll, repr. Heal 1972 p.5), describes him as nephew and successor to Thomas Vialls (qv), but unsurprisingly he is not mentioned in Vialls’s will in March 1779, which was made some six months before his marriage into the family. Beaumont took further apprentices in 1791 and 1792 and he is possibly the William Beaumont recorded at Mary-le-Bow-Fields in 1791.
Sources: DEFM, to which this account is indebted. For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.
Joseph Bell, Bigg Market, Newcastle upon Tyne 1778, Above Nun Gate 1782, The St Luke, High-Bridge 1782-1801 or later, The St Luke, Newgate St. Painter, artist and colourman.
See British artists' suppliers on the National Portrait Gallery website.
William Benham, 9 Devonshire Terrace, Notting Hill Gate, London 1863-1888. Artists' colourman, printseller, picture framemaker etc.
See British artists' suppliers on the National Portrait Gallery website.
*Bennett & Jennison Ltd, Julian St, Grimsby, Lincolnshire by 1913-1919, Weelsby St 1919, Ladysmith Road, Grimsby by 1921-1955 or later. London showroom, 27 Chancery Lane 1924, Napier House, 24/27 High Holborn, London WC1 1929-1935, 67 Aldersgate St EC1 1936-1941. Picture frame and moulding manufacturers.
It was claimed in 1914 that most mouldings in Britain were foreign in origin but that Bennett & Jennison were producing British mouldings (Fine Art Trade Journal, vol.10, 1914, information from Jeremy Adamson). From the 1911 census, it would appear that the partners in the business were Solomon Bennett and George Robert Jennison, with Bennett listed as a picture frame manufacturer, born Russian/Poland and naturalised British, with five children, two of whom, a daughter and a son, were active in the business, while Jennison appears as manager of a picture frame manufactory, with wife and daughter. Solomon Bennett (c.1849-1916) previously traded, as a carver, gilder and artistic picture framer from 82 Cleethorpes Road, also providing services as a plumber, glazier, gasfitter and wholesale glass merchant, claiming that his business had been established in 1868 (Grimsby & Cleethorpes Directory, 1902). George Robert Jennison (1871-1949) died at Cleethorpes in 1949, leaving effects worth £17,099.
Bennett & Jennison Ltd was listed as fine art publishers in the 1909 telephone directory. There was a fire on their premises in 1917 (The Times 25 June 1917). The business exhibited at the British Industries Fairs in 1922, 1929 and 1947, offering a range of fancy goods, including picture frames, mouldings and framed pictures (Grace’s Guide at www.gracesguide.co.uk). In 1924 the business was described as makers of picture frame mouldings, photo frames, fire screens, advertising frames, mirrors and pictures in frames, wood stair rods, overmantles, etc, and from 1936 as fancy goods manufacturers in the Post Office London directory.
Bennett & Jennison advertised swept frames, antique gilt frames for artists and exhibitions, offering lists and moulding patterns on application, describing themselves as the largest frame and moulding works in Great Britain (The Year’s Art 1930). By 1951 the business was offering exhibition frames for artists in ‘Antique Gilt or Ivory and oxidised silver’, offering a new list, no.103 (The Artist’s Guide, 1951; see also The Artist, vol.41, April 1951, p.xi). The company was listed to be struck off the Companies Register in 1957 (London Gazette 18 October 1957).
*Jabez Benson, 28 Warwick St, Golden Square, London 1826-1828, 39 Warwick St 1829-1858, not listed 1859-1860, 20 Broad St, Golden Square 1861. Looking glass and picture framemaker.
Jabez Benson (c.1804-1864) was listed in the 1841 census as a framemaker, in 1851 as a carver and gilder, age 47, address 29 Warwick Square, and in 1861 at 62 Warwick St. He is probably the individual of this name who married twice at St James Westminster, firstly in 1827 to Mary Wilkinson, and then in 1834 to Caroline Osbourn. He died in 1864, described as a carver and gilder of 20 Wardour St, leaving effects worth under £300; his will was proved by his widow Caroline and his son Alexander George, barrister’s clerk.
Benson framed two portrait drawings for Adam Buck, Sarah Wright-Hewell, 1827, and Young boy and his two sisters, 1830 (Christie’s South Kensington, Interiors, 1 May 2012 lot 325, and Sotheby's 26 November 1998 lot 18). Both frames bear his trade label describing him as nephew and successor to the late Mr Gravel. This was Robert Gravel, who worked at 28 Warwick St from 1809 until his death in 1824 (DEFM).
For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.
Bertram, see Frederick Bartram
*C.F. Bielefeld ?1826-1828, Bielefeld & Haselden 1829-1836. At 62 Edgware Road, London 1828-1836, 33 Great Windmill St, St James’s 1833-1835, 29 Oxendon St, Haymarket 1836. Papier mâché furniture and looking glass makers.
John Henry Bielefeld (Germany 1747-1813 St Marylebone) married Amelia Gosler at St Martin-in-the-Fields in 1770; they had nine children between 1770 and 1788, mostly christened at St Mary Marylebone, including John Henry (1771-1848) and Charles Frederick (1778-1844). The name is sometimes found spelt as Bielefield, Billfield or Biellfield.
The father was trading as a music seller in 1781 in Oxford St, as a dealer in musical instruments at 127 Oxford St in 1787, and as a toyman in Oxford St in 1789, and father and son were listed at 1 Bolsover St from 1801 as Bielefeld & Son, wholesale toymen, and at 72 St Martin’s Lane from 1819, as toy merchants or as a toy warehouse. In 1817 the partnership was listed as J. & C. Bielefeld, perhaps no longer father and son but the two brothers John Henry and Charles Frederick. ‘John Henry Bielefeld senior’ (whether father or son) and ‘Charles Frederick Bielefeld’, 70 St Martins Lane, variously described as toymen or toy manufacturers, took out insurance in 1819 and 1821 with the Sun Fire Office. This partnership was dissolved in 1826 (London Gazette 22 May 1827), leaving J.H. Bielefeld, toyman, to continue to trade from the same premises until he was made bankrupt in 1834 (London Gazette 27 June 1834).
Following the dissolution of the partnership, Charles Frederick Bielefeld went into business with his nephew, also Charles Frederick Bielefeld (1803-64), and with William Haselden, as Bielefeld & Haselden, papier mâché furniture and looking glass makers, in or soon after 1826, the date subsequently given in trade publications for the invention of their improved form of papier mâché. In 1832 the partnership was dissolved ‘as far as regards Charles Frederick Bielefeld the younger’, leaving Charles Frederick Bielefeld the elder and William Haselden to continue the business of manufacturers of ground paper ornaments (London Gazette 27 March 1832). In 1837 what was presumably the remaining partnership between Bielefeld the elder and Haselden was dissolved (The Times 4 January 1837). In both cases the partnership was described as manufacturers of ground paper ornaments, Edgware Road.
The business published a catalogue in 1831, A collection of designs for the use of upholsterers, decorators, gilders &c, 3rd book, 2nd edition, 28pp (Winterthur Library). The trade card of Bielefeld & Haselden, ‘Inventors & Manufacturers of the New Papier Mâché Ornaments, by Appointment to his Majesty’s Office of Works’, shows them trading from 62 Edgware Road and also from 33 Great Windmill St, St James’s (Johnson coll. Trade Cards 23 (80).
The younger Charles Frederick Bielefeld (qv) went on to trade independently, while William Haselden set up as Haselden & Co, whose work was featured in a trade catalogue from 24 Golden Square in about 1840, Fashionable Window Cornices and Hangings with Glass Frames &c, being original designs, in which are introduced ornaments of papier mâché (British Library, 7808.i.16). In a series of changing partnerships, trading as Haselden & Co and as Hinchliff & Co, William Haselden and several members of the Hinchliff family, initially with George Cooke, traded in papier mâché furnishings and paper hangings until 1859 or later (London Gazette 24 November 1837, 21 April 1843, 25 June 1850, 28 April 1859). Various Hinchliff family partnership, property and personal deeds, 1804-55, are in the City of Westminster Archives (M:Acc.0560).
Sources: DEFM; London Metropolitan Archives, Sun Fire Office policy registers, 262/395387, 342/528747, 482/953296, 488/980174. Information from descendants of the Bielefeld family, including Colin Smith, 25 April 2007, and Penny Poulton, 2 & 8 May 2007, concerning the family, particularly the various John Henry Bielefelds, and identifying Bielefeld as a music seller in 1781. For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.
*Bielefeld & Co 1833, Bielefeld & Knapp 1834, C.F. Bielefeld 1835-1864, Bielefeld & Co 1866-1869. At 18 New Road, Fitzroy Square, London 1833-1838 (see note below), 15 Wellington St North, Strand 1840-1861, street renumbered 1861, 21 Wellington St 1861-1869 (not listed 1865). Papier mâché manufacturer, including picture frames, mouldings and ornament.
Charles Frederick Bielefeld the younger (1803-64), son of John Henry Bielefeld the younger (1771-1848), was born on 24 February 1803 and christened at St Marylebone. He and his wife Elizabeth had three sons who survived infancy, Charles Edward (1829-61), Julius Martin (1832-1919) and Sydney Kirk (1836-66), christened in Marylebone, as well as four younger sons and daughters. By the time of the 1851 census, both father and son Julius, age 19, were listed as papier mâché manufacturers. In 1861 Bielefeld was living with his large family at 31 Gower St, when he was described as an artist and manufacturer of papier mâché ornaments.
Charles Frederick Bielefeld had left the earlier partnership of Bielefeld & Haselden (qv), which included his uncle, Charles Frederick the elder, in 1832. When he set up in business at 18 New Road, he went into partnership with Martin Knapp as Bielefeld & Knapp, advertising as manufacturers of the improved papier mache ornaments, for centre flowers and ventilators to ceilings, room and window cornices, glass frames, brackets, mouldings and every description of decorations (Johnson coll. Trade Cards 23 (81). This partnership was dissolved in 1834 (London Gazette 22 July 1834). Subsequently C.F. Bielefeld advertised in almost identical terms as ‘Modeller and Manufacturer of the Improved Papier Mâché Ornaments’, trading from 18 New Road, featuring among other products glass frames and mouldings, and referring to the availability of pattern books (Johnson coll. Trade Cards 23 (79). Early listings for this business are confusing, variously giving its address as 18 Quickset Row, New Road 1836-1839, and 18 Bath Place, New Road 1836-1839, but also recording it as New Road, Fitzroy Square 1833-1835 or more specifically as 18 New Road 1834.
Bielefeld’s first catalogue, Ornaments Drawn from Examples, Executed in the Improved Papier Mache, issued in parts in or soon after 1834 from 18 New Road, was illustrated with 32 lithographic plates. It was followed by catalogues of Gothic ornaments in 1835 and ‘in every style’ in 1836 (RIBA Library). Once Bielefeld had moved to new premises at 15 Wellington St in 1839 or 1840, built to the design of Sydney Smirke, he issued a series of more ambitious catalogues, entitled On the Use of the Improved Papier-Mâché in Furniture, which he initially advertised as consisting of some 800 plates, and later promoted as containing more than 1000 (copies in various libraries). A priced catalogue, probably a working copy used by the firm, details the cost of each component part of Bielefeld’s frames and other ornaments (Victoria and Albert Museum Print Room, see Simon 1996 p.169).
From September 1841 Bielefeld advertised in The Art-Union, featuring an expanded edition of his folio volume of patterns in February 1842, and his machine-made patent picture frame mouldings in 12 feet lengths without join in 1848 (The Art-Union Advertiser June 1848 p.cxi). A master of self publicity, Bielefeld benefited from a series of articles and promotional puffs in The Art-Union, The Builder and the Illustrated London News in the 1840s and early 1850s.
At one stage Bielefeld employed a workforce of not less than one hundred. His success brought its own problems; smoke from his works in Wellington St brought objections from local residents who also complained about the ‘hordes of vagabond boys’ employed there. However, this success was relatively short-lived: there was a fire on his premises in 1854 (The Times 10 March 1854), he was bankrupt by 1861 and died in 1864, leaving effects worth under £100. His business continued in other hands. By 1872 the Papier Maché Co Ltd (Walter Clare, Managing Director) was listed at the 21 Wellington St address. It was followed in 1887 by the Plastic Decoration and Papier Mache Co, partners Richard Brunton and Herbert Brewster, who formed a limited company in 1890, issuing a catalogue from 21 Wellington St in 1893 and continuing in business until 1895 (National Archives, BT 31/4869/32334).
In the nineteenth century technical advances allowed papier-mâché to be used much more widely in furniture and architectural decoration. It was employed for the throne canopy in the House of Lords, for the laurel-leaf friezes in galleries at the British Museum and even for a prefabricated waterproof papier-mâché village of ten houses exported to Australia (Simon 1996 p.43). In 1845 Bielefeld patented the use of a type of papier-mâché for architectural decoration; it was known as ‘fibrous slab’, or patent wood, and was used on the interior of the dome of the British Museum Reading Room.
Framing work: Charles Frederick Bielefeld advertised ‘Bielefeld’s Improved Papier Mâché Picture Frames’ in 1840. As Bielefeld’s catalogues show, his frames were assembled from pressed parts which were priced individually so that a frame like that on Richard Rothwell’s Mary Shelley, exh.1840 (National Portrait Gallery, repr. Simon 1996 fig.31) was made up from seven different elements. The large leaves are stamped CF BIELEFELD LONDON (Simon 1996 fig.32). An identical frame can be found on Samuel Laurence's Charles Babbage, 1845 (National Portrait Gallery). Though this frame was built on an open framework, others are closer to contemporary compo frames in appearance. A stamped papier-mâché frame with small-scale ornament applied to a wooden moulding was used for William Etty's Britomart redeems faire Amoret, exh.1833 (Sotheby's 24 November 2005 lot 66). A rather bolder design, clearly a reframing, can be found on John Rising's Henry Meynell, c.1790 (Temple Newsam House, Leeds).
Bielefeld supplied a frame, size 40 by 34 ins, for £3.7s to Charles Roberson & Co in 1843, together with a volume of patterns at £1 and some other more modest items, and a royal coat of arms in 1856/7 (Hamilton Kerr Institute, MS 944-1993 p.231, 180-1993). In turn, he had an account with Roberson, 1841-51, from 14 and 15 Wellington St North (Woodcock 1997).
In The Art-Union in 1842, it was claimed that papier-mâché frames had several advantages over compo, apart from appearance: they had 'all the effects of old carved work; many of the patterns represent exactly the finest carvings of the seventeenth century' (April 1842 p.91), and ‘they are cheaper, being about two-thirds of the cost…; next, they will not “chip” in carriage; and next they are so much lighter in weight’ (November 1842 p.257). Bielefeld offered a separate catalogue in 1843, which he described as a miniature work with 50 designs for picture frames (Liverpool Mercury 26 May 1843). In an advertisement for such frames, Bielefeld claimed that they would be 'found fully equal in style and finish to the finest carvings, at a cost not exceeding that of the common putty composition frames', offering an illustrated tariff of his frames and containing several designs made expressly for Art Union prints (The Times 13 October 1843). Despite Bielefeld’s claims, there was some feeling that papier mâché did not form such a good foundation for gilding as wood or composition, nor did it retain a firm hold of nails or screws. For whatever reason, the use of papier mâché in framemaking did not prosper beyond the 1860s (Simon 1996 p.44).
For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.
William Biggs, Biggs & Son, W.H. Biggs & Co, see John Harris
**Frank Binning 1858-1878, Francis Binning 1879-1909, H. & E. Binning 1909-1910, Ernest Binning 1912-1940, Harry E. Binning 1946-1949, Bloomsbury Frame Works & Repairers (H.E. Binning) 1950-2005. At 9 Hyde St, Bloomsbury, London WC 1858-1860, 83 Theobald’s Road, WC 1861-1879, also 84 Theobald’s Road from 1876, road renumbered 1879, 118 Theobald’s Road 1880-1885, 120 Theobald’s Road 1884, road renumbered 1885, 130 Theobald’s Road 1886-1939, 62 Lamb’s Conduit St 1946-2005, 57 Exmouth St 1890-1895 as carver and gilder. Composition ornament and picture and glass frame manufacturers.
The interest of the Binning family business lies in its exceptional longevity over four generations in the specialist business of producing composition ornament for picture and looking glass frames. The late 1930s trade card of H.E. Binning, picture framemaker of 130-2 Theobald’s Road, gives 1837 as the year the business was established (repr. Alabone & Johnson, fig.4, see Sources below). However, the founder of the business, Francis Binning, is not known to have traded independently before 1858. He lived on the premises in Theobald’s Road at least from 1871 to 1901 and is described as an employer in 1901. His son Frank Binning lived in Exmouth St at least from 1895 to 1908 and in 1911 was described as a worker. Confusingly, the father Francis was sometimes named as Frank, and the son Frank sometimes as Francis. The evidence is incomplete but it would seem that the father traded in Theobald’s Road as Frank Binning until 1878, and then as Francis Binning until his death in 1909. The family had interests in nearby Exmouth St, where the business was listed in directories at no.60, 1863-5 (see Alabone & Johnson p.25), and at no.57 as carvers and gilders, 1890-5. Perhaps the son ran the Exmouth St workshop, since he is recorded as living there. Father and son apparently worked closely together.
The business remained in the hands of the Binning family until 2005 when, at the death of Peter Binning, it was incorporated into Joseph McCarthy (Fine Frames) Ltd, of Tunbridge Wells. The following account is indebted to the research of Gerry Alabone and Alastair Johnson.
The first generation: Francis Binning (c.1822-1909) married Sophia Edwards at Trinity Church, Marylebone, in 1853, when he was recorded as a joiner living in Norton St, the son of the late Richard Binning, a servant. He can be traced in census records, in 1861 as Frank Binning and there after as Francis Binning. In more detail: in 1861 at 52 Devonshire St, Finsbury, as a composition ornament and framemaker, age 35, born parish of St George Hanover Square, with his wife Sophia, age 30, born Winchester, a daughter Sophia, age 6, and son Frank J., age 4, both born in St Pancras. In 1871 at 84 Theobald’s Road, now a widower, as a glass and picture framemaker employing six men and two boys, with two sons Frank J., age 14, and Albert E., age 10. In 1891 at 132 Theobald’s Road as a picture framemaker, age 65, with his son Harry, age 18, as an assistant and three younger children. In 1901 at 130-2 Theobald’s Road as a picture framemaker and employer, age 70, with five sons and daughters given as workers in picture framing, namely Albert, age 41, Harry, age 28, Ernest, age 23, Alice, age 25, and Mary, age 20.
‘F. Binning’ advertised in the 1880s as a composition ornament, glass and picture frame, cornice, table and tripod stand manufacturer, also offering to supply work in any state to upholsterers and the trade (trade card, repr. Alabone & Johnson, fig.2). A view of his premises at 130 Theobald’s Road shows more than a dozen staff standing outside the shop (Alabone & Johnson, fig.3). At one stage or another, the Binning family used the adjoining premises at 132 Theobald’s Road as a newsagent and as a confectioner.
Francis Edward Binning died age 86 in the Holborn district in 1909. At his death in 1909, the business passed to his sons, Harry and Ernest.
The second generation: Four of Francis Binning’s sons were active in picture framing. The eldest, Frank John Binning (1857-1920), was born in St Pancras in 1857 and married Susan Bowers in the same district in 1876, when described as a carpenter, the son of Frank Binning, similarly described as a carpenter. He died age 63 in the Islington district in 1920. In census records, he was recorded as Frank J. Binning, except in 1901 when he appeared as Francis J. Binning; he was variously described as a picture frame maker or picture frame joiner. In 1861 and 1871 he was living with his father (see above), in 1881 at 21 Harrison St, St Pancras, age 24, with his wife Susan, 23, and two young daughters, Kate and Alice, in 1891 and 1901 at 57 Exmouth St with his wife and eight children, aged between 2 and 24, and in 1911 at 13 Hanover St, Islington, with his wife and four daughters, all described as book folders. He was living at 57 Exmouth St from at least 1891 to 1908, and at 18 Hanover St in 1915, according to the electoral roll.
The second son, Albert Edward Binning (1862-1924?) was born in the Holborn district in 1862. He can be found in the 1871 and 1901 censuses living at his father’s, and in 1911 as a picture framemaker and worker, living at 19 Whitfield Place, off Tottenham Court Road. He appears to be the individual who died age 63 in the St Giles district in 1924.
The third son, Harry Binning (1872-1910) can be found in the 1891 and 1901 censuses at his father’s. He died in September 1910 at the age of 38, just a year after his father, leaving effects worth £691.
The fourth son, Ernest Binning (c.1878-1960), has not been traced in birth registers for his presumed year of birth, 1878. He can be found in the 1891 and 1901 censuses at his father’s, and in 1911 as a picture framemaker and employer, age 33, with his wife Maud and two-month-old son, Harry Ernest. Following his father’s death in 1909, Ernest traded initially with his brother Harry as H. & E. Binning (trade card, repr. Alabone and Johnson, fig.4), until his brother’s untimely death the following year. He then continued under his own name, with 17 employees in the business in 1913. He died in the Shoreditch district, age 82, in 1960.
The third generation: Ernest’s son, Harry Ernest ‘Monty’ Binning (1911-90), was born in the Holborn district in 1911 and married Betty McGrath in the same district in 1932. They had children Bryan in 1933 and Peter in 1937, both born in the Holborn district. Harry Binning started running the business before the Second World War and continued working in the shop until his death in 1990, as Gerry Alabone has traced.
The fourth generation: Peter Binning (1936-2005), Monty’s son, was born on 29 December 1936 and his birth registered in the Holborn district in 1937. Bryan M. Binning was born in the Holborn district in 1933. Following Peter's death in 2005 the moulds used by the Binning family were acquired by his long-time customer, Joseph McCarthy, and are now owned and used by Joseph McCarthy (Fine Frames) Ltd, 68 The Pantiles, Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN2 5TN . However, little of the business’s records appear to survive other than a few trade cards and photographs.
Sources: Gerry Alabone and Alastair Johnson, ‘Introducing the Bloomsbury Frameworks Project’, in Ed Gregory (ed.), Postprints from the David Harris Conservation Conference, 30 March 2007, privately distributed, c.2007, pp.24-8.
*James Birchall, Duke’s Court, St Martin’s Lane, London 1774-1780, 433 Strand 1780, 473 Strand (‘near St Martin’s Church’) 1780-1794. Carver and gilder, picture framemaker and printseller.
James Birchall (d.1794) appears to have married twice, firstly to Catharine Wyer at St Martin-in-the-Fields in 1763, having three children between 1764 and 1771, the first two christened at St Anne Soho, and the third at St Martin-in-the-Fields, and secondly to Susanna Bennett at St Clement Danes in 1776, having four children between 1782 and 1791, all christened at St Martin-in-the-Fields.
James Birchall took apprentices John Hughes for £21 in 1771 and Andrew Collier for £10 in 1773. Birchall appears in the Westminster poll book for 1774 at Duke’s Court. He announced that he had moved from this address to 473 Strand, near St Martin’s church, in 1780, advertising a very good assortment of German glasses for prints, drawings and crayon pictures, from 18 by 14 ins to 40 by 32 ins (Morning Post and Daily Advertiser 6 September 1780); he used his trade card as a carver, gilder and printseller at 473 Strand to advertise in very similar terms (Banks coll., with added date 1780). He took out insurance in June 1780 with the Sun Fire Office as a carver, gilder, printseller and dealer in glass at 433 Strand, including £500 for utensils and stock and the significant figure of £630 for glass and china, subsequently insuring from 473 Strand in 1786 when his utensils and stock had increased to £1200 but china and glass were now given as £200. He was publishing prints from 473 Strand by 1780, initially with the engraver, John Raphael Smith. These premises had previously been occupied by John Sotheby (qv). In his will, made 9 December 1794 and proved 7 January 1795, James Birchall, carver, gilder and printseller, made bequests to his wife, Susannah, and his sons, Thomas and James William. His stock of engravings, including 90 gilt frames and 80 framed prints, was sold at auction in May 1795.
In 1780 he invoiced the 3rd Duke of Dorset for £11.11s for framing Nathaniel Dance's Anthony and Cleopatra (Kent Record Office, U269, A243/10, information from National Trust files). In 1783 and 1784 he invoiced Lord George Germaine for a total of £14.17s for various frames, including a half-length 'Salvator Rosa pattern', carrying out further work in 1785 (Drayton House archive, information from Bruce Bailey, 2002).
Sources: Maxted 1977 (recording Birchal’s address at 433 Strand in 1780, his death in 1794, and entries in London Metropolitan Archives, Sun Fire Office policy registers, 284/429920, 337/519680); Ellen G. D'Oench, ‘Copper into gold’: prints by John Raphael Smith 1751-1812, 1999, pp.73-4; David Alexander, ‘The Historic Framing of Prints: The Treatment of English Prints in the Eighteenth Century’, in Nancy Bell (ed.), Historic Framing and Presentation of Watercolours, Drawings and Prints, Institute of Paper Conservation, 1997, p.6 (Birchall’s sale catalogue). For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.
Blundell & Pritty 1811-1813, William Blundell 1813?-1815, Blundell & Sanderson 1815-1824, William Blundell 1823-1836. At 6 Little St Andrew St, Seven Dials, London 1811-1826, 21 Little St Andrew St 1825-1832, 36 Church St, Soho 1833-1836, 9 Meard’s Court, Soho 1836. Composition ornament makers, from 1823 sometimes listed as a carver.
The partnership between William Blundell and Robert Pritty, composition ornament manufacturers of Little St Andrew St, was dissolved in 1813 (London Gazette 11 May 1813), although it continued to be listed in Kent’s London directory for 1814 and 1815. William Blundell, composition ornament maker, 6 Little St Andrew St, Seven Dials, insured his premises with the Sun Fire Office in 1815 (London Metropolitan Archives, Sun Fire Office policy registers, vol.466). He may have been followed in business by G. Blundell at 59 New Compton St in 1839.
Descriptions such as ‘Blundels Dolphin ornament’, 'Blundells bead' and 'Blundells flat laurel', appear in the account books of John Smith (qv) from 1812, suggesting that Blundell was among the sources used by Smith for composition ornaments for his picture frames, perhaps directly rather than through a subcontracting supplier as was often the case (see also Simon 1996 p.140).
For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.
Boots Ltd, 1 Angel Row, Chapel Bar, Nottingham, Boots Cash Chemists Ltd, Station St, Nottingham, with shops at many locations. Chemists; also artists’ materials retailers and picture framemaker c.1894-1963 or later.
In 1894 the business was advertising as ‘Printsellers, Carvers, and Gilders, Picture Frame Manufacturers, Artists’ Colourmen’, selling ‘English Gold Frames of the Highest Quality’, as well as cleaning and regilding frames (The Year’s Art 1894). For fuller details of this business, see British artists' suppliers on the National Portrait Gallery website.
*John Boson (active 1719, died 1743), parish of St Martin-in-the-Fields, London 1719-1725, parish of St George Bloomsbury 1732-1733, Saville St, Burlington Gardens c.1734-1743. Carver.
A leading carver, rather than a gilder, John Boson (?c.1697-1743) made a few splendid frames for Frederick Prince of Wales but was otherwise not primarily a picture framemaker.
Boson may have been the ‘John Boson, son of Michael Boson of Witham, Suffolk', who was apprenticed to Jarvis Smith, a joiner, for eight years in 1711 (Roscoe 2009 p.123). He married Martha Rayer in 1719 at St Anne Soho, and had five children, three christened at St Martin-in-the-Fields between 1722 and 1725 and two at St George Bloomsbury in 1732 and 1733.
Boson's yard was at Greenwich (Roscoe 2009 p.123). He took a building lease from Lord Burlington on the east side of Saville Row, now nos 22-23, for 62 years from 1 March 1734 ('Cork Street and Savile Row Area: Burlington Estate Lease Tables', Survey of London, vol.32, St James Westminster, 1963, p.562). Described as a joiner, Boson took an apprentice, James Thorn, for the considerable sum of £50 in 1740 (Boyd). He was a member of the Beef Steak Club, along with painters, William Hogarth, George Lambert and John Thornhill (John Timbs, Clubs and Club Life in London, 1872, p.126).
Boson’s death was reported in the London Evening Post on 14 April 1743. In his will, made 29 April 1740 and proved 15 April 1743, John Boson, carver of St James Westminster, left his estate in trust to his executors, the surveyor James Horne, John Thornhill and George Lambert, making specific bequests to his brothers Michael and Francis, and sisters Martha and Mary, to his foreman Thomas Nicholls the elder, to Mary Norman, daughter of Barak Norman, musical instrument maker, also naming his father-in-law as Francis Rayer. His bequest to Mary Norman included provision for her children born within nine months of his death. The lease of his house at the end of Savile St, Burlington Gardens, was advertised for sale in August 1743 (Daily Advertiser 25 August 1743) and his household furniture was sold in October that year, when his ‘curious Models in Terra Cotta’ were advertised for sale, as well as his plasters, books, prints, drawings and carvings (London Daily Post 17 September 1743, Daily Advertiser 15 October 1743).
Framing work: Boson’s output as a carver is discussed in standard biographical works (see Sources below) and included work for various churches in the 1720s and 1730s (Terry Friedman, The Eighteenth-Century Church in Britain, 2011, see documents on the CD-ROM as indexed). As a framemaker, he supplied a picture frame for All Souls' College, Oxford, in 1733 (Roscoe 2009 p.125) and provided ‘two rich glass frames’, among other furnishings for Chiswick House, as recorded in his account of 11 September 1735 (Michael Wilson, William Kent: architect, designer, painter, gardener, 1685-1748, 1984, p.108). For Frederick Prince of Wales at Leicester House in 1743, Boson carved two large frames for battle pieces by John Wootton, apparently The Siege of Lille and The Siege of Tournay, which Paul Petit (qv) then gilded at a cost of £112.12s (Millar 1963 no.551; see also Survey of London, vol.34, St Anne Soho, 1966, pp.448n, 450). He also supplied carved frames costing £24.5s in 1738 and two frames ‘in the French Manner’, according to a bill submitted by his executors in 1746 (DEFM).
Sources: DEFM; Roscoe 2009 (with an extensive list of works). For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.
*William Boswell 1839-1859 or later, William Boswell & Son by 1864-1869, W. Boswell 1869-1916 or later (also trading as William Boswell's Galleries 1906-1910), W. Boswell & Son(s) by 1920-1960. At Magdalen St, Norwich 1841-1869 or later, 15-16 Exchange St 1863-1869 or later, 37 London St by 1871-1877 or later, 48 London St by 1883-1929, St Ethelbert’s House, Tombland 1930-1948, 24a Tombland 1950-1960. Carvers and gilders, looking glass manufacturers, later also upholsterers, artists’ colourmen, photographers, picture dealers and restorers, antique dealers.
William Boswell (1810-77) was apprenticed to William Freeman (qv) in 1824 and was admitted as a Norwich freeman in 1831 (DEFM). He founded a frame making, picture dealing and picture restoration business which lasted into the mid-20th century in one form or another. He took over the business of John Thirtle (qv) at his death in 1839, as is evident from his trade label (repr. Stabler 2006 p.57), and also apparently that of Charles Jeremiah Freeman (qv) in about 1870.
In census records, William Boswell was listed in 1841 as a carver and gilder in Magdalen St, with a year-old son, also William Boswell, in 1851 in Magdalen St, employing seven men and in 1871 in London St, by now age 60, a carver, gilder and upholster employing 14 men and boys. His partnership with his son, William Boswell the younger, as carvers, gilders and photographers, trading as Boswell & Son, was dissolved at 31 December 1868 (London Gazette 12 January 1869). The business had an account with the artists' suppliers, Roberson, 1863-71, from Exchange & Magdalen St and 37 London St (Woodcock 1997). William Boswell died in June 1877. His will, as a carver and gilder of Thorpe Hamlet, Norwich, was proved by his widow Lucy and his son William, an ironmonger at Dartford in Kent, with effects under £5,000.
W. Boswell was described in Harrow & Co’s 1877 directory as carver, gilder, picture frame manufacturer, looking glass, cabinet ware, and paper hanging warehouseman. A later trade card from 48 London St, records the business as ‘Carver, Gilder, Picture Frame Maker, Upholsterer, Cabinet & Chair Maker… Artists’ Colourman’ (Johnson coll. Trade Cards 24 (85).
In William White’s History, Gazetteer & Directory of Norfolk, 1883, the entries for Samuel Howard Boswell and James Charles Boswell are both followed by the name, W. Boswell, suggesting that they were the active partners in the business, which traded as W. Boswell. Samuel Haward Boswell (1850-1928) was recorded in 1881 census as a house furnisher and James Charles Boswell (1852-1920) as a picture and furniture merchant. In the censuses in 1901 and 1911 James Charles Boswell appears as a fine art dealer. He died in 1920 at 48 London St, leaving effects worth £2335, with probate granted to his widow Faith and to Samuel Haward Boswell. The latter died in 1928 at 48 London St, leaving effects worth £10,458, with probate granted to his widow Alice, to Bernard Boswell, art dealer, and to Geoffrey Boswell, oil merchant.
By 1906 the business was advertising as W. Boswell’s Galleries from 48 London St, making the untenable claim that it had been established in 1722 (The Year’s Art 1906, and subsequently), and promoting artists such as Crome, Cotman, Lawrence, but no longer mentioning picture framing as a service. Following James Boswell’s death in 1920, a sale was held by S. Mealing Mills & Co in June 1920 (Elzea 2001 p.336). Subsequently, the business was managed by William Boswell's grandson, Bernard Boswell (1885-1959) (Stabler 2006 p.105). In 1924, William A. Boswell, picture framemaker, whether connected or not, was listed at 22 St John Maddermarket. The later history of the business is not traced here but apparently it closed in 1960 (‘Summary History of Norwich Framers’, typescript supplied by Cathy Proudlove, 2006).
Framing work: The business supplied some of Frederick Sandys' early frames, 1858-70; examples include those for the painting, Queen Eleanor, 1858 (National Museum of Wales, Cardiff), and the drawing, W.H. Clabburn, 1870 (Norwich Castle Museum). Other works with the Boswell label include Henry Bright’s Shore Scene near Leyden, Holland, 1852, John Joseph Cotman’s Whitlingham Lane, Norwich, and Alfred Stannard’s Seascape, 1840s (Magdalen St label) (all Norwich Castle Museum, information from Cathy Proudlove, 30 January 2005).
Picture restoration: The business was actively involved in picture restoration in the early 20th century, as can be seen from a series of testimonials in W. Boswell & Son’s pamphlet, Art in Picture Restoring, 1922. From this pamphlet, it would appear that the business was responsible for restoring a picture described as a Velasquez Spanish Lady for Sir R.S. Adair at Flixton Hall, Bungay, 1856, cleaning, lining and restoring pictures at the Guildhall and St Andrew’s Hall for Norwich Corporation, 1911, restoring pictures at the Castle Museum over many years, restoring watercolours and oil paintings for Russell Colman including transferring from canvas to canvas Middleton’s Cringleford picture and restoring J.S. Cotman‘s Beauharnois Place, 1911, as well as restoring pictures for Henry Birkbeck at Westacre, 1915, Prince Frederick Duleep Singh, Blo’ Norton Hall, Thetford, 1911, J.H. Gurney at Keswick Hall, Norwich, 1915, Sir Charles Harvey at Rainthorpe Hall, Norwich, 1915, the Earl of Leicester at Holkham, 1915, Lord Stafford at Meretown House, Newport, Shropshire, 1915, and Lord Suffield at 17 Pont St, London. The dates given up those of the testimonials, rather than of the restoration work.
Sources: Simon 1996 p.175 (for Sandys); Elzea 2001 pp.336-9 (listing Boswell among others); P.K. Scott, A Romantic Look at Norwich School Landscapes, 1998, p.100, quoting from a summary history of the business in W. Boswell & Son, Art in Picture Restoring, 1922 (photocopy available at Norwich Castle Museum); John Stabler, 'A Dictionary of Norfolk Furniture Makers 1700-1840', Regional Furniture, vol.20, 2006. For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.
Updated September 2015
(Arthur) James Bourlet 1850-1895, James Bourlet & Sons 1896-1910, James Bourlet & Sons Ltd 1911-1983, James Bourlet Frames 1980-1982 (also trading as Bourlet & Patrickson 1975-1976), (James) Bourlet Frames Ltd 1980-1991, Bourlet from 1994. At 34 Foley St, London 1850-1855, 10 Foley St 1855-1863, 17 Nassau St (later named Titian House), Middlesex Hospital W1 1864-1974. Also at 18 Nassau St 1895-1974, 12 Union Mews, Middlesex Hospital W 1865-1908, 13 Union Mews 1882-1890, 11 Union Mews 1895-1908, 77 Mortimer St 1899-1903, Chelsea depot 133 King’s Road 1915. From 1975: 36 Dover St, W1X 3RB 1975, 263 Fulham Road 1976-1990, workshop 247/249 Fulham Road 1975-1980, workshop 7 Distillery Road, Hammersmith 1981, 32 Connaught St, W2 2AY from 1991. Carvers and gilders, picture framemakers, fine art packers and exhibition agents, picture cleaners.
Bourlet’s was founded by James Bourlet and continued under his sons until bankruptcy forced a sale to the Blackley family in 1908. David Blackley and his son actively developed the business. Since 1973 the business has changed hands several times. It continues to trade as Bourlet.
The Bourlet family, 1850-1908: The founder of the business, Arthur James Bourlet (c.1828-1895), was apparently the son of John William Bourlet (1804-71), carver and gilder of 70 Judd St, New Road, and Ellen Brown (c.1802-84). Known as James Bourlet, he was apprenticed to Mr Smallhorn, most probably John Smallhorn (qv) (MS by David Blackley; information from Lynn Roberts). He took over his master’s premises at 34 Foley St in 1850 or before. He was recorded in the 1861 census as a carver and gilder, age 33, at 10 Foley St; in 1871 as a master gilder, employing three men, at 17 Nassau St, with four sons, Arthur John age 20, James age 14, Ernest Albert age 7, and Frederick Francis age 4; and in 1891 as a carver and gilder, with his sons, Louis age 29, and Frederick age 24, also carvers and gilders. The father died in June 1895, described as a carver and gilder and picture frame manufacturer of 17-18 Nassau St, leaving effects worth £3566, with probate granted to William Hardy, accountant, and Robert Longford, gilder’s manager.
In the next generation, Arthur John Bourlet (1851-1910), ‘Fine Art Agent’, was recorded at 17 Nassau St in the 1881 census, with wife Louisa, son Arthur J.B. Bourlet, and daughter Maud.
James Bourlet's trade label advertised his services as a looking glass and picture frame manufacturer and conveyancer and packer of fine arts, with appointments to Queen Victoria, the Prince of Wales and the Archbishop of Canterbury. He advertised as ‘Carver, Gilder, Fine Art Packer, and Exhibition Agent’ (The Artists’ Directory 1875, p.195). A cartoon in Punch (4 May 1878) has ‘Mr Bourlet and his crew’ collecting rejected Royal Academy exhibits. In 1889 Bourlets acquired the frame making business of Smith & Uppard (qv) at 77 Mortimer St. James Bourlet is said to have rebuilt his Nassau St premises in 1896 (Bourlet, annual trade publication, 1960). However, by this time the business was in possession of James Bourlet’s sons, who advertised the following year as Frame Makers to the Queen, established 50 years, also offering services in cleaning, lining and restoring pictures and as fine art agents for numerous London and provincial exhibitions (The Year’s Art 1897). The business went bankrupt in 1908 (London Gazette 21 January 1908), when the partners were the brothers, Louis Henry Bourlet (1861-1934 or later) and Frederick Francis Bourlet (1867-1913?).
Bourlet’s frame label can be found on Laura Alma-Tadema’s drawing, George Eliot, 1877, and James Sant’s Adelina Patti, exh.1886 (both National Portrait Gallery), Walter William Ouless's 7th Duke of Rutland, 1886 (National Portrait Gallery) and Sir G.M. Humphrey, 1886 (Fitzwilliam Museum), and Frank Walton’s Summer has gone on Swallows Wings, c.1890 (National Gallery of Victoria, Australia, see Payne 2007 p.33). Pictures in the Royal Collection with frames recorded as by Bourlet include the following: Frank Holl's 'No Tidings from the Sea', 1870, George Koberwein’s Prince Sigismund of Prussia, 1867, James Sant's Prince Leopold, and Duc d'Aumale, both 1869, James Jebusa Shannon's Mrs Henry Bourke, 1881, and George Housman Thomas's The Review at Potsdam, 1859, The Marriage of the Prince of Wales, 1864, and Aya with John Clark, c.1864 (Millar 1992 nos 341, 381, 608-9, 630, 773, 777, 780).
It is worth noting that there were various other carvers and gilders trading by the name of Bourlet in the 19th century, their relationships to determine. These include William Bourlet, trading 1808 to 1829 or longer, Thomas Bourlet, trading 1851 to 1882 or longer, Thomas James Bourlet trading 1860 to 1870 or longer and Arthur Bourlet, probably James Bourlet’s son, who began trading in 1886. Under a subsequent owner, the Bourlet business claimed to have been established in the eighteenth century (MS by David Blackley; information from Lynn Roberts).
The Blackley family, 1908-73: Following the bankruptcy of the Bourlet brothers in 1908, the business was sold to the Edinburgh-born theatre designer, David Blackley (1863-1947). It was subsequently managed by other members of his family, including his son, Armand David Blackley (1891-1965) (Bourlet, annual trade publication, 1960). The business began to advertise extensively once in the hands of David Blackley, in 1909 offering 'a large quantity of Old Gilt Frames, carved wood and composition', as well as new picture frames (The Studio, vol.48, November 1909, p.xxvi), in 1910 ‘300 distinct and different mouldings in stock’ (The Year’s Art 1910), in 1912 Titian Gilt Frames (The Studio, vol.55, March 1912, p.xi), describing their frames in 1915 as ‘made with a view to enduring the wear and tear of exhibitions’ (The Year’s Art 1915). In its catalogues, the business promoted ‘new patterns coloured to meet the conditions laid down for the guidance of artists sending in other than gilt frames [to the Royal Academy]’ (catalogue, January 1921).
Bourlet produced an annual illustrated catalogue, or Professional List from at least 1919 until 1964 or later (copies in Imperial War Museum Dept of Art 1919, V&A Furniture Dept 1921, 1938, 1964, National Gallery of Art, Washington DC 1931, V&A National Art Library 1935, 1939, coll. Jacob Simon 1937, 1960, 1963). It also produced a separate catalogue, trading as the Bourlet Galleries, 1922 or later, Lamps, Shades, Mirrors, 31pp, with essays by M. Landseer Mackenzie and Isabel Savory.
The 1937 catalogue contains interior views of the mounting room, the packing warehouse and two showrooms. It features 53 frame patterns, mainly of historic patterns named after well-known artists. Modern patterns include Whistler, in ‘Titian Gilt’ or silvered oak and Dod Procter, a cassetta section in imitation antique silver or gilt oak. The 1960 catalogue features 15 frame patterns including Louis XIV, Louis XV and other French and English 17th and 18th century style frames, as well as more modern designs, including the ‘Churchill’ pattern, said to have been designed for Sir Winston Churchill for a portrait of his mother. A service to colour and tone frames to harmonise with the painting was offered for some models. Finishes varied from ‘Ivory, Shaded, or Stripped Wood’, to gold leaf and decapé.
Further study is needed to distinguish Bourlet’s label as fine art packers from their business as framemakers. It appears that Bourlet may have framed or transported work for Maurice Greiffenhagen, including his Self-portrait, 1920s? (National Portrait Gallery) and his Sir George MacDonald, 1929 (Scottish National Portrait Gallery). L.S. Lowry also used Bourlet: in 1938 Alexander J. McNeil Reid saw several of the artist’s paintings waiting to be framed by the firm (Obituary, ‘Mr L.S. Lowry’, The Times 24 February 1976), and the business still owns a Lowry frame drawing and note (information from Gabrielle Rendell, 30 July 2007).
Bourlet’s auditor in the 1950s or 1960s looked at the business in a very different way to the owner, as an auditor of their accounts remembers: ‘I noted a long long list of bad debt reserves. When I questioned this …, the answer I got was, "Have you ever heard of an artist who died and left any money?" Artists never paid until they came for the next frame so they always owed one frame!’ (information from Sean Little, August 2013).
David Blackley died in 1947, leaving effects worth £35,019, with probate granted to his son Armand David Blackley, who in turn died in 1965, leaving effects worth £84,091.
The business since 1973: Bourlet’s changed hands several times in the late 20th century. The business was purchased by Sotheby's in 1973 (The Times 6 April 1974), and was the vehicle used by Sotheby’s to acquire J.J. Patrickson & Sons Ltd (qv) in 1974 (The Times 20 September 1974). By 1975 the business was operating as fine art packers and forwarding agents from 3 Space Waye, Feltham, and as a picture cleaners and framemakers from Fulham Rd. It is the latter division which is traced further here. The business was sold by Sotheby's in 1982 to a group of former employees at a knockdown price (The Times 28 May 1982). It has been owned by Gabrielle Rendell since about 1990. The business was the subject of a rather inaccurate feature article in 1978, with reproductions of the workshops at Fulham (Honor Head, ‘James Bourlet & Sons Ltd’, The Artist, vol.93, 1978, pp.16-18).
Bourlet Frames made the ‘Derain Moulding’ frame to the artist’s specification for Margaret Foreman’s Lord Butler, 1981 (National Portrait Gallery); the invoice refers to Chantfane Ltd, presumably a parent company. The business also framed Paula MacArthur’s Frederick Sanger, 1991 (National Portrait Gallery, information from Gabrielle Rendell, 30 July 2007).
For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.
G. Bowen, see George Morant
John and Thomas Bowers, see John Smith
Philip Boyd, see George Morant
*Bradley & Co 1890-1911, F. Bradley & Co 1912-1914. At 81 Charlotte St, Fitzroy Square, London 1890-1914, warehouse in Tottenham Mews 1890-1907. Fine art packers, exhibition agents, carvers and gilders, picture framemakers.
George W. Bradley (c.1843-1901) was listed at 81 Charlotte St in both the 1891 and 1901 censuses, in 1891 as a picture framemaker, age 48, and in 1901 as an art packer (worker), age 58, born in Bloomsbury. In the 1881 census he appears to have been listed as a waiter. He died at 81 Charlotte St in 1901, leaving effects worth £4779, with probate granted to his sons, Francis John Bradley, fine art publisher, and Herbert Howard Bradley, picture framemaker.
Bradley & Co was primarily a fine art packing company which also carried out artists’ frame designs (The Year’s Art 1897), advertising in 1902 as carvers, gilders, and picture framemakers. By 1905, their primary listing was as fine art packers. They were forwarding agents for major art societies in the United Kingdom, and also for the Paris Salons, the Dresden International, the Munich Secession and other continental exhibition venues.
Smith Brand, Brand & Noble, Edinburgh, see Thomas Noble
*James Brewer, 33 Snow Hill, London by 1779-1790, 126 Newgate St 1790-1804. Carver and gilder, looking glass maker.
James Brewer (1751-1820 or later) was the son of the joiner and carver, Richard Brewer (d.1772), and his wife Jane. He was admitted a member of the Joiners’ Company in 1772, and was the Company’s Master for 1808 (information from Gerry Alabone). For many years he was a member of the City’s Common Council. He took apprentices James Lloyd in 1774, George Woolmore in 1775 and Robert Ames in 1783.
He was recorded in business by 1779, making looking glass frames and some picture frames. He took out insurance with the Sun Fire office in 1779 and 1781 (DEFM). The business was listed as Brewer & Son, looking glass manufactory, in Holden's 1802 London directory, and as John Brewer in the Post Office directory, 1800-4.
James Brewer, 33 Snow Hill, invoiced the 3rd Duke of Dorset in 1779 and again the following year, on both occasions for £4.4s for oval spandrel frames (Kent Record Office, U269, A243/10, information from National Trust files). He supplied the Corporation of the City of London with the picture frame for John Singleton Copley's Siege of Gibraltar in 1793-4 (Jules David Prown, John Singleton Copley, Harvard University Press, 1966, p.334). Further details have been published by Gerry Alabone: Brewer submitted a drawing and an estimate for making the frame at a cost of £130 in May 1793, completing work by December 1794, only to find that alterations to the room chosen for the picture meant that the frame had to be adjusted. The total cost was £178.5s.6d, a significant sum but much less than the rumoured £400 (Simon 1996 p.146). Payment was also made to George Dance ‘for making drawings for mouldings and design for the frame’.
James Brewer’s brother, Willoughby Brewer, traded as a carver and gilder at 33 Snow Hill at some time between 1779 and 1789 (DEFM) and had eight children between 1771 and 1780, including a son, James, christened at the nearby church of St Sepulchre in 1777. In 1825, Nathaniel Brewer, connection unknown, attended a meeting of more than fifty master carvers and gilders who resolved to resist the demands of journeymen for an increase in wages (The Times 30 June 1825).
Sources: Gerry Alabone with Louise Dandy, ‘The Defeat of the Floating Batteries off Gibraltar by John Singleton Copley: History and Display’, in Sally Woodcock (ed.), Big Pictures: Problems and Solutions for Treating Outsize Paintings, 2005, p.133. For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.
*John Brooker 1819-1844, John Brooker & Son 1845-1859, Alfred Brooker 1860, Alfred Brooker & Sons 1861, John Brooker & Son 1862, Thomas Brooker 1863-1893. At 33 Gloucester St, Queen Square, London 1819, 5 Southampton Row 1820-1862, 23 Upper King St, Bloomsbury 1863-1865, 59 Southampton Row 1866, 55 Southampton Row 1867-1893. Carvers and gilders, looking glass and picture framemakers, picture dealers, later printsellers and publishers.
John Brooker (c.1788-1857/8) and his family were in business in and around Southampton Row for more than 70 years. John Brooker may have been the ‘Brooker’ who used the specialist composition ornament maker, George Jackson (qv), in 1816 and 1817, to supply runs of ornament and composition details for decorating frames (see Jackson account book, V&A Archive of Art and Design, AAD/2012/1/2/1, p.330). He was certainly a customer of George Jackson & Sons in the years, 1837-42 (V&A Archive of Art and Design, AAD/2012/1/2/3).
John Brooker, 5 Southampton Row, carver, gilder, picture frame, looking glass manufacturer and picture dealer, took out insurance with the Sun Fire Office in 1821, 1822, 1827 and 1832. In 1825, J. Brooker attended a meeting of more than fifty master carvers and gilders who resolved to resist the demands of journeymen for an increase in wages (The Times 30 June 1825). He can also be found described as John Brocker (DEFM) and by the 1830s the business was sometimes listed as Brooker & Son although generally as John Brooker. In 1830 J. Brooker & Son of 5 Southampton Row are recorded as having established a branch in Market Hill, Cambridge (DEFM). The business had an account with the artists' suppliers, Roberson, 1831-9 (Woodcock 1997). John Brooker was declared bankrupt in 1843 (The Times 7 October 1843).
John Brooker was listed in the 1851 census as a carver and gilder, age 63, employing three men and four boys, with his son, Stephen, age 25, also listed as a carver; he died in the St Giles district in 1857 or 1858. In the 1851 census Thomas Brooker (c.1821-1893?) was listed as a journeyman picture framemaker, age 29; in 1861 at 6 Hastings St, St Pancras, as a picture framemaker, age 42; in 1871 at 55 Southampton Row as a gilder and picture framemaker, age 49, with a son as a gilder, age 23; and in 1881 at 55 Southampton Row as a picture framemaker, age 59. He is presumably the man of this name who died in the St Giles district at the age of 72 in 1893. Alfred Brooker (1833-61), perhaps his younger brother, was listed in the 1861 census at 5 Southampton Row as a frame gilder and picture seller, age 28; he died later the same year, leaving effects worth under £1500.
Sources: London Metropolitan Archives, Sun Fire Office policy registers, 485/976383, 490/991380, 507/1061061, 530/1141514; see also DEFM. For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.
Updated March 2014
Henry Brookes by 1781-1800, H.H. Brookes 1797-1799, Brookes & Temple by 1801-1808. In parish of St Martin-in-the-Fields, London from 1769, Coventry St, Haymarket from 1781, at the Golden Head, Coventry St 1783-1784, 8 Coventry St 1784-1791 or later, 28 Coventry St by 1797-1808. Stationers, printsellers and portfolio and picture framemakers.
Henry Brookes (d.1795) is presumably the carver and gilder of this name, resident in the parish of St Martin-in-the-Fields, who took apprentices James Stewart in 1769 and Samuel Howitt in 1770. He was listed in Coventry St in rate books from 1781 to 1793. He is known from 1783, when an advertisement appeared, ‘At Brookes’s… the Golden Head, Coventry Street’, offering portfolios, drawing paper, stationery and bookbinding (Morning Herald 2 December 1783). His primary business was as a stationer and printseller but he also published a few caricatures and prints in the 1780s and 1790s (BM Satires nos 7063, 7830, 8238; British Museum collection database). He was acquainted with Thomas Johnson (qv), who used his premises at8 Coventry St as a mailing address (Simon 2003 p.14).
From late 1784 an instrument for taking silhouette profiles was on sale at 'Brookes' Portfolio Manufactory' at the Golden Head, 8 Coventry St, next house to the corner of Oxendon St (Morning Herald 28 December 1784, Morning Post 1 January 1785; see also Sue McKechnie, British Silhouette Artists and their Work 1760-1860, 1978, pp.524-5, 546-7). McKechnie gives the address as 2 Coventry St, naming the silhouette artist, Abraham Jones as the inventor of this instrument, and stating that Henry Brookes paid the rates at 28 Coventry St for at least 15 years, 1785-1800.
In his will, made 19 January and proved 4 February 1795, Brookes described himself as a stationer and called himself Henry Brookes the elder, describing his nephew as Henry Brookes the younger, and referring to certain payments due under articles of agreement made between them on 9 January 1795. It would seem that this nephew carried on the business, soon going into partnership with Thomas Temple (qv), who was one of the witnesses to his uncle’s will and who had previously traded elsewhere.
Although the business was listed in Holden's and some other directories as stationers, 1804-1809, it also supplied frames and other carved work. ‘Brooks and Temple’ provided gilt mouldings at a cost of £91 for Old Grosvenor House in or before 1808 (Survey of London, vol.40, The Grosvenor Estate in Mayfair, 1980, p.243n). In September 1808 the partnership between Henry Brookes and Thomas Temple as picture framemakers and stationers was dissolved (London Gazette 27 September 1808). By 1809, Thomas Temple (qv) was operating independently from 50 Great Titchfield St, describing himself as a carver, gilder and picture framemaker, 'removed from Coventry Street'. Temple became one of the leading London framemakers, building up a considerable clientele.
Three pencil-and-wash portrait drawings by Henry Edridge show the changing nature of the business, from Henry Brookes in 1798 to Brookes & Temple in 1802 and Temple by 1809. Edridge’s Lord Sheffield, 1798 (National Portrait Gallery) bears Brookes's trade label from 28 Coventry St, advertising work 'In The Present Taste and at the Lowest Price’s', including picture and glass frames, girandoles, chimney pieces, ornaments for panels and all sorts of carving and gilding. Edridge’s drawing, The Duke of Cumberland, 1802 (Historical Portraits Ltd, repr. in the catalogue, Philip Mould Historical Portraits, n.d. but 2006, pp.56-9), has the label of Brookes & Temple while his Mrs Whaley and her daughter, 1809 (Christie's 12 April 1994 lot 27), has the label of Temple on his own.
Sources: Maxted 1977. For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.
*William Brooks 1828-1865, W. Brooks & Son 1866-1904. At 19 Little Wild St, Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London 1828-1831, 14 Great Queen St, Lincoln’s Inn Fields 1831-1904. Carvers and gilders, picture frame and looking glass makers, printsellers.
William Brooks (c.1799-1871 or later) was in business by the late 1820s. As William Brooks, picture framemaker, he took out insurance at 19 Little Wild St with the Sun Fire Office in 1828, and then as picture framemaker and dealer in pictures and prints, and as carver, gilder and picture framemaker, at 14 Great Queen St in 1831 and 1835 (London Metropolitan Archives, Sun Fire Office policy registers, vols 516, 528, 545). He was a customer of the composition ornament maker, George Jackson & Sons (qv), 1836-42 (see Jackson account book, V&A Archive of Art and Design, AAD/2012/1/2/3). He was declared bankrupt in 1848 (London Gazette 14 November 1848).
In the 1851 census Brooks was listed as a picture framemaker, age 52, employing four men, in 1861 as a carver and gilder with a son, William Elliott Brooks (c.1833-1914), age 28, picture framemaker, and in 1871 again as a carver and gilder. In 1862 the business was listed in trade directories as carver, gilder, composition ornament, fancy wood, glass and picture framemaker. William Brooks received an appointment as a carver and gilder to Queen Victoria in 1863, an appointment which was regranted to his son, William Elliott Brooks, trading as W. Brooks & Son, in 1884 (National Archives, LC 5/244 p.225, 5/246 p.27). The business was listed in 1884 as carvers and gilders to the Queen and the Prince of Wales and in 1903 Brooks & Son advertised as ‘Carvers and Gilders to the King… Established 80 Years’, offering ‘Frames to Artists’ Designs. Plastic work out of gelatine moulds. Wood moulding to any pattern. Gilding and colour work.’ (The Year’s Art 1903). In the 1901 census William E. Brooks was listed as a picture framemaker, age 68, at 13 & 14 Great Queen St, and it was presumably on his retirement that the business closed in about 1904. He died in 1914, leaving effects worth only £15.
The business was extensively employed by Queen Victoria, for many years and certainly 1865-85 (Joy 1969 p.684). It supplied ‘Lawrence’ frames in 1865 and an ‘Alhambra gold frame’ in 1868 (National Archives, PP2/98, 9474 and PP2/125, 13375). Many works framed by Brooks are identified in the catalogue of Victorian pictures in the Royal Collection (Millar 1992). These include Scottish landscapes by August Becker, framed in gold ‘Lawrence’ frames in 1865 (nos 151-3, 158), portraits of dogs by Thomas Musgrove Joy of 1843-5 (nos 352, 354-5, 357-8), portraits by George Koberwein, 1873 (nos 386, 389), animal portraits by George Morley, 1837, 1841 (nos 503, 508-10), John Partridge's Queen Victoria, 1840 (no.532), portraits by James Sant, 1872 (nos 603, 605-6), portraits by Rudolph Swoboda, 1888-1900 (nos 667-72, 674, 676, 729, 737, 739, 743, 745, 747-9, 751, 753-6) and Franz Xaver Winterhalter's Louisa Duchess of Manchester, 1859 (no.925).
For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.
Edwin B. Brown, see Frederick Henry Grau
**Frederick Brown senr, 36 Charlotte St, Fitzroy Sq, London W 1869, 22 Charlotte St 1870-1871, 32 Charlotte St 1872-1886, 179 Wardour St W 1896-1911, 24 Park Terrace 1898, 80 Park Road, Regents Park NW 1899, carver and gilder, picture framemaker. Frederick James Brown, 32 Charlotte St, Fitzroy Sq, London W 1886-1913, carver and gilder, picture framemaker.
Frederick Brown and his son, Frederick James Brown, traded in London as carvers and gilders and picture framemakers, with the son taking over the father’s premises and the father apparently moving elsewhere.
The father: The carver and gilder Frederick Brown (b. c.1839), traded initially at 36 Charlotte St, previously the address of another carver and gilder, William Stannard, before moving to 22 Charlotte St and then to 32 Charlotte St. In census records he was recorded in 1871 as a carver and gilder at 24 Charlotte St and in 1881 as a framemaker at 32 Charlotte St with his wife and six children. From 1886 his son took on the business at 32 Charlotte St and he himself appears to be identifiable with the carver, gilder and picture framemaker, Frederick Brown senr, trading at 24 Park Terrace in 1898, 80 Park Road, Regents Park in 1899 and 179 Wardour St 1896-1911.
Frederick Brown senr’s frame trade label from 32 Charlotte St as 'Framer', can be found on Frederick Sandys' drawing, Morgan le Fay, c.1863 (Betty Elzea, Frederick Sandys 1829-1904, 2001, pp.176-7, perhaps reframed) and as ‘CARVER & GILDER, FRAME MAKER &c’ on John William Waterhouse, Saint Eulalia, exh.1885 (Tate, N01542). A different label, in the form of a cherub holding up a cloth pinned to branches, reads 'FREDERICK BROWN SENR., Practical Carver and Gilder, Picture Frame Maker, 179 WARDOUR STREET (12 doors from Oxford Street.) W, LATE of 32, CHARLOTTE ST' (example on Joseph Mordecai's Sir Arthur Pinero, exh.1891, National Portrait Gallery).
The son: Frederick James Brown was born in about 1862. In 1886, he took over the business at 32 Charlotte St. He married Jessie Baynes in 1890 at St John Fitzroy Square and they had four children, 1891-6. In the 1871 census, he was recorded in his father’s household at 24 Charlotte St. In subsequent censuses, always at 32 Charlotte St, he can be found in 1881 still in the household of his father, now described as a framemaker, in 1891 in his own household as a carver and gilder, with his wife Jessie, in 1901 as a carver and gilder and employer, with his wife and three children, and in 1911 as a picture framemaker trading on his own account from his home, still with three children.
Another individual, Frederick Brown, picture restorer and gilder, was recorded in the 1901 census at 37 Grafton St, St Pancras, age 29.
Sources: Kathleen Cheesmond, a relative of Frederick James Brown, kindly provided details of his marriage, children and the 1911 census entry, in February 2012.
James Honeyman Brown 1871-1873, J.H. Brown & Co 1874-1883. At 67 Berners St, London 1871, 4 George Yard, Princes St, Soho 1872-1875, 40 Cranbourne St, Leicester Square 1873, 121 Wardour St 1875-1878, street renumbered 1878, 193 Wardour St 1879, 197 Wardour St 1880-1883. Picture dealer, subsequently carvers and gilders, picture framemakers, drawing mounters.
James Honeyman Brown (c.1838-1884) married Rose Love in 1868 in the Camberwell district and, secondly, Rosa Elizabeth Coton in 1872 in the Kensington district. In censuses he was recorded in 1871 in Peckham as a fine art merchant, age 32, born in Scotland, with wife Rose, age 28, and in 1881 in Shepherds Bush, age 42, as a master carver and gilder employing six men and one boy, with wife Rosa, age 30, and three young children. He died in 1884 at the age of 46 in the Hendon district.
James Honeyman Brown’s partnership with Colin Rae Brown (1821-97), the writer and publisher, perhaps his older brother, trading as frame manufacturers at 4 George Yard, was dissolved in 1873 with James Honeyman Brown carrying on the business (London Gazette 7 November 1873). James Honeyman Brown, picture frame manufacturer of 121 Wardour St, sought a meeting with his creditors in 1876 under the terms of the Bankruptcy Act (London Gazette 14 November 1876).
James Honeyman Brown & Co advertised as having ‘always in stock a large assortment of Mouldings of the newest designs’, also offering, ‘Gentlemen’s Collections Re-arranged and Hung’ (The Artists’ Directory 1875, p.186).
Thomas Brown, see Stewart and Brown
*John Brydon, 48 Brewer St, London 1780, 7 Charing Cross (‘opposite Northumberland House’) 1783-1801, 4 Charing Cross 1800-1805, 218 Oxford St 1805-1808. Printseller, print publisher, carver and gilder, picture framemaker, looking glass warehouse.
In 1780 John Brydon, carver and gilder, took out insurance at 48 Brewer St with the Sun Fire Office. He is perhaps to be identified with John Brydon, broker, who took out insurance at Great Windmill St, Golden Square in 1777. He is presumably the carver and gilder who took Giles Fry as an apprentice in 1785. There was also a John Brydon, enameler of Charing Cross, presumably connected, who took an apprentice, Richard Pitt, in 1797.
Brydon was trading from Charing Cross by 1783. Brydon advertised looking glasses, glass and picture frames and girandoles in 1784 (Morning Chronicle and London Advertiser 12 February 1784). He also offered prints for sale from his ‘Looking-glass and Print Warehouse, opposite Northumberland-house, Charing-cross’, which he also described as his ‘Exhibition Room’ (The Times 10 November 1792, 19 January 1793). He distributed prints for Valentine Green from as early as 1783 (Clayton 1997 p.220; see also J.C. Smith p.592, BM Satires no.8243); Green's Duchess of Rutland was altered and republished in 1793 by Charlotte Brydon, 7 Charing Cross, as the Duchess of York (J.C. Smith p.583).
Brydon was responsible for framing Guy Head's full-length portrait, Viscount Nelson with a Midshipman, 1798-9 (National Portrait Gallery), for Nelson himself, who wrote to Emma Hamilton on 8 February 1801, 'I hope Mr Brydon has executed the frames to your satisfaction' (Simon 1996 p.166). Indeed, when advertising his forthcoming set of engravings of the Battle of the Nile in April 1799, Brydon claimed Nelson’s patronage, and his permission to dedicate the prints to him (Sun 30 April 1799).
In 1800 Brydon thanked his patrons for their favours received over the previous 18 years, and advertised that he had opened a house for furnishing funerals at 4 Charing Cross, where J. Brydon junr was in attendance (The Times 5 June 1800). Brydon was listed as a bankrupt in 1801 as William Brydon (The Times 17 June 1801), but in subsequent reports he was named as John Brydon. His extensive stock-in-trade as a bankrupt was advertised for sale, including paintings, drawings, engravings, copperplates, paper, printing presses and picture frames (The Times 3 September 1801), as was the lease of his ‘substantial’ house and shop, the premises described as upwards of 50 feet deep and four storeys high, at a rental of £150 a year (The Times 14 September 1801). He continued to make payments to creditors until 5 June 1804 (Maxted 1977 p.33). The business was listed as Brydon & Co, print merchant, 1802-1805, in some directories.
Sources: Maxted 1977 (giving the address, 7 Charing Cross in 1783); London Metropolitan Archives, Sun Fire Office policy registers, 289/436154, see DEFM, and note also an earlier policy, 257/383803, from 1777. For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.
Updated March 2016
Buck & Scott 1876-1881, F.C. Buck 1881-1928, F.C. Buck & Son 1929-1962. At 76 Wigmore St, London W 1876-1888, factory 12 Marylebone Lane 1879-1880, premises renumbered 1880/1, 48 Marylebone Lane 1881-1890, 59 Wigmore St 1889-1900, 78 Baker St 1897-1900, 21 Baker St 1900-1923, 48 Baker St 1924-1962. Carvers and gilders, later fine art dealers.
Frederick Charles Buck (1850-1929) was born in Hackney in 1850 and died at the age of 79 in the Hampstead district in 1929. He was initially in partnership with Alfred Robert Scott, trading as Buck & Scott, carvers and gilders, printsellers etc, at 76 Wigmore St but this partnership was dissolved on 1 January 1881 (London Gazette 1 February 1881). In censuses, he was recorded in 1881 at 76 Wigmore St as a carver and gilder, age 30, in 1891 at 78 Baker St, in 1901 living at 93 Finchley Road with two sons and in 1911 as a fine art dealer and picture framemaker with his eldest son, Charles Frederick, age 20, assisting in the business. He is possibly the Frederick Charles Buck referred to in a court case concerning his father’s will in 1900 (The Times 26 June 1900). He himself died in September 1929, leaving effects worth £52,980, a considerable sum, with probate granted to his solicitor and to his son Charles Frederick Buck, fine art dealer.
The premises at 78 Baker St seem to have been used for trading in antique furniture. The business was listed in the Post Office London directory as fine art dealer by 1924 and antique picture frame dealer by 1941. F.C. Buck & Son's invoice paper in 1938 described the business as 'Dealer in Antique Furniture, Works of Art', specifying 'Chromos, Prints, Drawings &c Mounted, Pictures Cleaned, Lined & Restored, Looking Glasses & Picture Frames Cleaned or Regilded' (example in National Portrait Gallery records, RP 1935).
Framing work: The business supplied frames or materials for works by some well-known artists. Frederick Sandys's small panel, Hero, 1871, has the label, 'Prepared panel. Fredk. C. Buck. Dealer in Works of Art. Frame Maker. Wigmore St. London' (Elzea 2001 p.240). Frederick Buck was mentioned by William Holman Hunt in a letter, 1898, and he made the now lost frame for Hunt's The Miracle of Sacred Fire in the Church of the Sepulchre, exh.1899 (Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, MA). The aedicular frame to the artist's design on Hunt's The Beloved, 1898 (Royal Collection) has Buck’s label from 76 Wigmore St (Millar 1992 p.126: repr. Bronkhurst 2006 p.323, see also p.279 n.27). It is one of Hunt’s symbolic frames, incorporating pomegranates and mignonette, in a Renaissance scrolling design.
John Singer Sargent used Buck for antique frame from at least 1894, probably for Mrs Graham Robertson, 1894 (Watts Gallery, Compton) and certainly for two portraits for Biltmore, the North Carolina estate of the millionaire art collector, George Washington Vanderbilt, the full-lengths, Richard Morris Hunt for £25 and Frederick Law Olmsted for £42.10s including alterations (The Biltmore Company, Biltmore House).
Later, Philip de László used Buck as a source for old frames, for example in 1923, according to recent research into the De László archive (National Portrait Gallery). In 1933, the artist claimed that Buck had been supplying frames to his sitters for the last thirty-two years (De László archive, 076-0041), although the first mention of Buck in the archive is apparently in 1911. When de László’s portrait of Victor, 9th Duke of Devonshire, 1927-8 (Chatsworth) was copied in 1928, the artist recommended Buck, as a dealer in old frames, as one of two framemakers for the job but it was Emile Remy (qv) who got the commission on price (see Philip de Laszlo and picture framing on the National Portrait Gallery website).
The collector, George Salting, purchased picture frames from Buck, 1881-1909, of which the most expensive was a carved French swept frame for a Ruysdael painting in 1903 (Guildhall Library, MSS 19742, 19747, Salting papers).
The business also worked for leading museums. Buck supplied the National Gallery with an old carved frame for £30 for Frans Hals’s recently acquired Family Group in a Landscape in 1909 (National Gallery archive, NG13/1/9, 8 April 1909). Buck came back into favour when Augustus Daniel became Director, supplying frames to the value of £78 in 1929, £50 in 1930, £97.10s in 1931, including an old ‘reverse leaf frame’ for a picture by Moretto (NG 299), since removed (Nicholas Penny, The Sixteenth Century Italian Paintings, vol.1, Paintings from Bergamo, Brescia and Cremona, National Gallery, 2004, p.177), £55 for three frames in 1932, £115 for frames in 1934, £8 in 1935 and £75 in 1936 (NG13/1/10-11). For the Ashmolean Museum Buck & Son supplied two Italian frames in 1932 (Ashmolean Museum, Dept of Western Art, receipted bills, 16 December 1932). The business supplied frames to the National Portrait Gallery in 1938 and 1942 (National Portrait Gallery records, RP 2935 and account book 1935-42, 21-B-3).
For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.
Albert Edward Burling (b.1872) was born in Notting Hill. At the time of the 1891 census, he and his older brother James were recorded as picture framemakers living as lodgers at 113 Upper St, Islington. Albert Edward married in 1892 in the Islington district. He had set up in partnership as a picture framer by 1897, advertising in 1898 ‘Green Stained Oaks or Special Patterns made to Customers’ requirements’, as well as ‘French, Chippendale, Swept and Louis Frames in English Gold’ (The Year’s Art 1898), but the following year on 31 May 1899 his partnership with Ernest Walter Wesson (1873-1951), trading as A.E. Burling at 101 Great Portland St, was dissolved (London Gazette 29 September 1899). In the 1911 census, he was living in Walthamstow, as a picture framemaker (worker), confirming that he had ceased to trade on his own account, with his wife Annie and 18-year- old son, also Albert Edward, a cabinet maker.
There were other businesses going by the name of Burling, connection unknown, trading in frames at this time. Burling & Weatherall, picture framemakers, were listed at 99 Talbot Road W, 1895-9, and Burling & Co, picture framemakers, at 103 Talbot Road, 1899. James Burling, picture framer, age 30, was listed at 15 Theberton St, Islington, in the 1901 census.
Thomas Butler, Oxford, see Robert Archer
*James Byfield 1777-1790, James and Thomas Byfield 1790-1799, Thomas and James Byfield 1802, James Byfield 1805-1808, Thomas Byfield 1809-1828, T.B. Byfield 1822-1824, T.B. Byfield & Son 1823-1827, James Byfield 1829-1834. At Wardour St, Soho, London 1777-1793, Wardour St (corner of Holland St) 1777, 16 Wardour St 1785-1793, Compton St 1795-1799, 39 Old Compton St 1802-1828, 37 Old Compton St 1819-1834, 11 Richmond Buildings, Soho Square 1836, 9 Richmond Buildings 1837-1840. Carvers and gilders.
This carving and gilding business in Soho, begun by James Byfield by 1777, continued over more than one generation, with a relative, Thomas, in partnership by 1790, and Thomas’s son James continuing the business subsequently. There were a number of men by the name of James Byfield active in London. Further research is required to clarify the history of this business.
James Byfield is probably the individual of this name who was apprenticed to Henry Doughty, carver and gilder of St Margaret’s Westminster, for £31.10s in 1771. His apprenticeship must have been for less than seven years for him to have taken out insurance with the Sun Fire Office in January 1777 as a carver and gilder at the corner of Holland St in Wardour St. ‘Mr Byfield’, Compton St, attended a meeting in 1795 of fifteen consumers and manufacturers of leaf gold which resolved to resist an attempt by journeymen goldbeaters to increase their labour charges (The Times 22 December 1795). It is not clear whether he is identifiable with the James Byfield who died in 1812 at 39 Frith St, leaving his estate to his wife, Nancy Ann.
Thomas Byfield (c.1752-1826), in partnership by 1790, may have been James Byfield’s brother, son or nephew. Like many framemakers, ‘Byfield’ used the specialist composition ornament maker, George Jackson (qv), to supply runs of composition ornament, 1812-7, including ’200 ft Large beads’ at 16s and ‘100 ft Rope & Bead’ at 10s in 1813, perhaps for decorating frames, and ‘24 ft 6 in of oak leaves acorn & rope’ at £1.13s.1d in 1815 for the cornice of an unidentified throne (see Jackson account book, V&A Archive of Art and Design, AAD/2012/1/2/1). In 1825, Byfield attended a meeting of more than fifty master carvers and gilders who resolved to resist the demands of journeymen for an increase in wages (The Times 30 June 1825). Thomas Byfield of Compton St died in 1826, age 74, and was buried at St Anne Soho.
His son, James Byfield the younger (c.1803-1853?) continued the business. He was baptised at St Anne Soho in 1803, the son of Thomas and Mary Byfield. He would appear to be the individual listed at 37 Old Compton St as a cook in the 1831 poll book. He was listed in the 1841 census as a carver and gilder, age 37. He was recorded as a composition ornament maker at 5 George Yard, 23 Crown St, Soho, in 1841 and advertised his stock of looking glass and picture frames, stating that he had been several years mould carver to Messrs Jackson (qv) and to Messrs Criswick & Ryan (qv) (The Times 12 February 1841). In the 1851 census he appears as a carver and gilder, age 48, employing 3 men and a boy. Some of the Byfield frame moulds were auctioned by Criswick in 1863, according to the sale details (The Times 9 February 1863). He may be James Henry Byfield whose death, age 50, was recorded in the St Pancras district in 1853.
It has been suggested by Judith Butler that this carver and gilder was James Byfield (d.1813), who had six children by his wife, Susannah, between 1788 and 1800, christened at St Mary Marylebone, or at Providence Chapel, Great Titchfield St, three of whom became wood engravers, John, Ebenezer and Mary. However, it is recorded that this family was based in Clerkenwell, making it difficult to sustain the link with James Byfield the Soho carver and gilder.
Framing work: Thomas Byfield was carver and gilder to His Majesty, following on from William Robert Adair (qv), who died in 1807. His appointment was renewed in 1820 at the accession of George IV; he was followed at his death by James Byfield in 1826 whose appointment was renewed when William IV came to the throne in 1830 (National Archives, LC 3/69 pp.28, 92, 158). Thomas Byfield is recorded in the Royal Household accounts, 1808-27, supplying frames including for royal portraits for ambassadors and governors, totalling more than £4200 (DEFM; National Archives, LC 9/397). In December 1808 he provided the Lord Chamberlain with an account of work then in hand, namely a large rich picture frame for a portrait of the King for the Speaker’s House and two pairs of frames for portraits of the king and queen for the governors of Jamaica and Dominica (National Archives, LC 9/414 part 2).
Sources: London Metropolitan Archives, Sun Fire Office policy registers, 254/379756; Judith Butler, ‘Ingenious and Worthy Family: The Byfields’, The Private Library, 3rd series, vol.3, 1980, pp.149-50. For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.
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