British picture framemakers, 1600-1950 - M
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
Thomas Macdonald, 39 Fleet St (‘The Poets’ Gallery’), London 1813-1817, 3 Brydges St, Covent Garden 1818-1820, 38 Rathbone Place 1820, 139 Strand 1821-1825, 331 Strand 1826, 6 York St, Covent Garden 1831, 20 Broad Court, Long Acre 1835. Engraver and printseller, carver and gilder.
The engraver, Thomas Macdonald (d.1842), trained at the Trustees’ Academy, Edinburgh, with his friend, David Wilkie, until 1804. His work as a framemaker has been discussed by Hamish Miles, 'Notes on Wilkie's Frames & Framemaker' (Miles 1981 text opp. figs 3 & 5), to which this account is indebted. He came to London between 28 August and 21 October 1805 (information from Hamish Miles, 9 September 2007), apparently working for Thomson & Jackson, engravers in Gutter Lane, Cheapside in 1808, before setting up independently as an engraver and printseller in 1813 at 39 Fleet St, late the Poets’ Gallery, advertising that he framed and glazed prints and mounted drawings. He also advertised in 1814 that he kept original drawings and prints on view, and we know that John Smith (qv) was a source of supply in 1814 (V&A National Art Library, ‘Press Cuttings from English newspapers’, PP.17.G, p.891, and John Smith account book, 86.CC.1, vol.1, p.243). He published various prints from 1813 to 1819, including engravings after the work of James Northcote, 1813-6, and Samuel Woodforde, 1815 (Jacob Simon, 'The Account Book of James Northcote', Walpole Society, vol.58, 1996, nos 563, 565; J.C. Smith p.1487).
Thomas Macdonald, described as a printseller of Rathbone Place, late of Bridge St, was made bankrupt in 1820 (London Gazette 1 July 1820). In the 1841 census, he may be identifiable with the Thomas MacDonald, a printer, age 60 (ages were rounded down to the nearest five in this census), who was recorded in East Harding St, St Bride’s. He died in poverty in 1842 (Miles 1994, nos 1, 9).
Framing work: In 1812 Thomas MacDonald acted as keeper for David Wilkie’s exhibition of his own works at 87 Pall Mall (Cunningham 1843 p.351). From 1813-23 Macdonald looked after much of Wilkie’s framing, probably employing carvers and gilders for the purpose (Simon 1996 p.168, from Hamish Miles). In 1813, he framed The Letter of Introduction for the banker, Samuel Dobree (now National Gallery of Scotland). There appears to have been a hiatus in 1816 when Wilkie wrote to his engraver, Abraham Raimbach, about bringing ‘Macdonalds business’ to a close (Miles 1981 text opp. fig.5). In 1818 Macdonald framed The Penny Wedding (Royal Collection) and also provided a frame for various sketches, mounted in a single frame, with the label on the reverse, ‘Macdonald/ Engraver & Printseller/ Brydges Street Covent Garden’ (Miles 1981 fig.3, text opp. fig.5). He framed other important pictures by Wilkie, including The Chelsea Pensioners, 1821-2 (Wellington Museum, Apsley House) and The Duke of York, 1822 (National Portrait Gallery, see www.npg.org.uk/research/programmes/the-art-of-the-picture-frame/research-update.php).
‘MacDonald’ undertook work for William Etty, according to Etty’s letters to his brother, Walter (British Library, Add MS 38794 ff.102-3, 115). ‘Old MacDonald’ put Etty’s ‘Temple of Vice’ onto canvas, apparently his oil on paper, Destroying Angel and Daemons (Manchester Art Gallery, exh.1832), and was seen by Etty in February 1824 as ‘a capital fellow for my paper pictures’, provided that he did not prove too expensive. In November 1827, Etty told his brother that MacDonald claimed to have no money nor anything to do, and had let him have a long account, totalling £49.7s, against which Etty identified that there was £25.6s.6d to be offset ‘for things he has had, and that I have done him’. MacDonald was also concerned over a frame with William Etty in unspecified circumstances (Miles 1981 text opp. fig.5).
For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.
*Daniel McIntosh, 15 South Saint Andrew St, Edinburgh 1799-1810, 16 Saint Andrew St 1811-1816, 49 Princes St 1817-1823. Carver and gilder, printseller.
Daniel McIntosh inserted an advertisement in an Edinburgh newspaper in 1799 announcing that he had just returned from London where he had been for some time. Soon after, he advertised, ‘Monthly supplies of everything that is New in London and Looking Glasses and Pictures framed to any device, with the same beauty and elegance as in the first shops in London’ (Houliston 1999 pp.59, 61, quoting Edinburgh Evening Courant 6 June 1799, 25 January 1800). He advertised from15 Saint Andrew St his ‘London Fancy Print Ware Room’ in 1800 and his ‘Repository of Arts’ in 1801 (Caledonian Mercury 11 January 1800, 19 December 1801).
In 1801, he supplied a stretching frame for 2s.6d (National Archives of Scotland, GD152/217/5/10/1, papers of Hamilton-Bruce family of Grange Hill and Falkland). On his billhead, dated 1805, as D. McIntosh, 'The Repository of the Arts', 15 South Saint Andrew St, he described himself as a carver, gilder and printseller, advertising ‘Prints Mirrors &c elegantly framed to any Device’ (Banks coll. 32.40). He was one of two Edinburgh establishments recommended to Miss Jane Innes of Stow by the sculptor, John Henning, for framing his models in 1805 (National Archives of Scotland, GD1135/41B(32)).
In 1809 McIntosh advertised that he continued to use a celebrated patent machine to take profile likenesses within ‘the short space of one minute, for 5s each, and in colours for 10s.6d’. He also offered to give instruction in landscapes etc and to supply drawings to copy (Edinburgh Evening Courant 2 March 1809).
McIntosh turned increasingly to trading in artists’ materials and engravings. He was listed in the catalogue, c.1811-12, of Smith, Warner & Co, London, as selling their artists’ materials. As a printseller, he advertised new portrait prints from London including those of General Sir John Moore in 1809 and Neil Gow in 1815, the latter published by Thomas MacDonald (qv) in London (Edinburgh Evening Courant 2 March 1809, 4 September 1815). His trade card of 1817 or later, with a view of his 'Repository of Arts' at 49 Princes St, describes him as 'D. MacIntosh. English and Foreign Printseller, Carver and Gilder, Ladies fancy Works, Stationery, Water Colours & all Requisites for Drawing' (National Library of Scotland, see Sources below). A sale of prints was held on his premises in 1818 (Prints and books of prints, to be sold by auction, at MacIntosh’s exhibition and sale room, No 49, Prince’s Street on Monday January 12 1818, National Library of Scotland, T.3.h.4(5)).
McIntosh advertised a sale of his stock on his retirement from business in 1823 (The Scotsman 19 April 1823). It remains to be established whether he can be identified with either Daniel McIntosh, painter, who died at the age of 65 in 1842, or Daniel McIntosh Esq of 27 Hanover St who died in 1849, leaving numerous bequests to named individuals.
Sources: Scottish Book Trade Index. Helen Smailes kindly supplied information from the Edinburgh Evening Courant and from the Innes of Stow papers. For McIntosh’s trade card, see Iain Gordon Brown, ‘Daniel Macintosh and the Repository of Arts’, Book of the Old Edinburgh Club, vol.7, 2008, p.173 (repr.) For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.
William McKechnie, Edinburgh, see Doig, McKechnie & Davies
*Charles M’Lean, 181 Fleet St, London 1838-1843, 78 Fleet St 1840-1869, 110 Fleet St 1851-1852, 79 Fleet St by 1854-1869, 80 Fleet St by 1854-1864, 144 Oxford St 1862. Wholesale carver, gilder, picture frame and looking glass manufacturer. Also at 165 Oxford St as manager of the Commercial Plate Glass Co, by 1849-1857 or later.
Charles M’Lean (1806-1862 or later), sometimes spelt McLean, was born in 1806 at St Dunstan-in-the-West workhouse, the son of Hector McLean (Lt. Royal Navy, purser and paymaster) and Ann Miller, and the younger brother of Edward Roderick McLean, who became a picture dealer, trading in the Strand in 1841, and whose death he notified in October 1853 (information from Gail Maclean, April 2009, April 2010, August 2011, who suggests that Hector was a bookseller from Sun Fire insurance records, 1820-35, and asks whether there may have been a connection with Thomas McLean, fine art publisher in the Haymarket).
Charles M’Lean managed businesses in both Fleet St and Oxford St, as his advertisements make clear (e.g. Daily News 7 December 1854). In the census in 1851 he was listed at 165 Oxford St, as a carver and gilder, age 49, born London, with a wife and two daughters, employing 40 men (a substantial business), and in 1861 at 144a Oxford St, as a glass factor, age 54, born St Dunstan’s, London. He was prosecuted in 1862 over a tax return for a servant, carriage, horse and dogs which he kept at Chertsey (The Exchequer Reports: Reports of Cases Argued and Determined in the Courts of Exchequer & Exchequer Chamber, 1865, p.750, accessed through Google Book Search).
Charles M’Lean, advertised his picture frames extensively from Fleet St, offering 'the very best Gilt Frames, at prices never hitherto attempted', quoting prices for ten sizes of highly ornamented gilt frames at 30s for a 30 x 25 inch frame with a 5-inch moulding and 90s for a 50 x 40 inch frame with a 7-inch moulding, and offering fancy wood mouldings and frames; he also offered to supply the trade with ungilt compo frames and claimed to have 10,000 frames ready for immediate delivery (The Art-Union February 1840 p.31). He offered 'A Large Sheet of Drawings, representing the exact patterns and prices of one hundred different sized frames, ornamented with designs, made expressly for this Manufactory', later claiming to have 30,000 frames kept seasoned for immediate delivery (The Art-Union January 1842 p.18, June 1845 p.203).
From 1870, the business in Fleet St was run as the Commercial Plate Glass Co, carvers and gilders.
Added September 2013
John Marnoch 1784-1821, not listed 1822, J. & A. Marnoch 1823-1824, not listed 1825-1826, John Marnoch & Co 1827-1828. At Foot of Old Assembly Close, Edinburgh 1784-1788, South Bridge 1790, 12 Princes St 1793-1810, 32 Princes St 1811-1819, Waterloo Place 1820, 74 Princes Street 1821, 2 North Bridge 1823-1824, 71 George Street 1827, 88 Princes St 1828. Carver and gilder, from 1793 also printseller. Carver and gilder, later also looking glass and picture framemaker and printseller and publisher.
The business traded over two generations under John Marnoch senr (1754-1809) and then under his son John Marnoch junr (1787-1831).
John Marnoch senr: The father, John Marnoch senr, was born in December 1754, son to James Marnoch, merchant, and his wife, Ann Martine (Scotlands People, for this and other biographical details). He married Mary Finlay in November 1780 (F.J. Grant, ‘Register of marriages of the city of Edinburgh 1751-1800, Scottish Record Society, vol.53, 1922, p.519) and they had nine children between 1787 and 1802. He is first recorded trading in 1784. He became an Edinburgh burgess in right of his father in October 1786 (Bamford, see Sources below).
Possibly meant for John Marnoch, the shop of William Marnoch, carver, at the foot of Old Assembly Close nearly opposite the Horse Wynd, was among those advertised for auction in 1787(Caledonian Mercury 13 January 1787). John Marnoch, carver, took out insurance for property in Princes St, and Nicolsons St, Edinburgh, in June 1792 (London Metropolitan Archives, Sun Fire Office policy registers, 388/601570) and he is probably to be identified with the John Marnock of Robs Land, Cowgate, Edinburgh, carver, who took out insurance for property in ‘Gibbs Entry, Marnocks Land east side Nicholson Street Edinburgh’ in June 1790 (370/570430).
Marnoch held a sale by auction of his stock of looking glasses and framed prints in 1801, claiming that his shop needed to be cleared to give room for his summer collection, which would include ‘everything in the Carving and Gilding Line, besides all Fancy Ornaments, Coloured Papers, and Drawing Materials’ (Edinburgh Evening Courant 11 April 1801; all references to this newspaper kindly supplied by Helen Smailes). Marnoch died intestate at the age of 54 on 16 August 1809 and was buried in Canongate parish (Edinburgh Evening Courant 21 August 1809; Scotlands People), leaving his son to carry on the business.
An inventory of his personal estate and effects, drawn up by his daughter and executrix, Jean Marnoch, was presented at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on 24 November 1809, listing his assets which came to some £2830, of which debts owing the deceased amounted to £1291, cash £550, furniture and fittings £254 and stock-in-trade £734 (accessed through Scotlands People). The listing of debtors by year includes a few professionals such as Ackermann in the Strand in London (1805 or preceding) (see British artists' suppliers on the National Portrait Gallery website), both the drawing master Mr Alston at £9 and the drawing mistress Miss Grant at £14 as ‘desperate’ debts (both 1805 or preceding), the engraver E. Mitchell at £12 (1807), the Glasgow carver, Alexander Finlay (qv), as a doubtful debt (1807), and Mr Douglas portrait painter at £13 (1809). Some of Marnoch’s more substantial clients, perhaps for looking glasses, were in 1807 Sir A. Lockhart Bart at £16, in 1808 Gen. Wemyss of Wemyss Castle £18, George Wood Esq £80 and James Davidson Esq £40, and in 1809 Mr John Aiken, wood merchant £36 net debt, Mr Baxter Slater £92 with contra payment due, Lord Gray £119, the Earl of Errol £24, George Baillie Esq of Millerston £29, Alexander Monro Esq of Livingston £22, Sir Archibald Kinloch £77, Mr Ross advocate £37, Gen. Drummond of Strathallan £53 and Mr Adam of Blair Adam £12 (all sums rounded down to nearest pound).
John Marnoch junr: The son, John Marnoch junr, was born in Old Grey Friars parish in October 1787 to John Marnoch and his wife Mary Finlay. As a carver and gilder, he was made an Edinburgh burgess in his father’s place in July 1813 (Bamford p.85). ‘John Marnoch, carver and gilder, No 13 Browns Street’ died 23 August 1831, reportedly at the age of 45, and was buried in Canongate parish (Scotlands People).
John Marnoch was made bankrupt in 1815 and his estate subject to sequestration (London Gazette 12 September 1815). A stock sale on his premises at 32 Prince’s St of his pictures, prints and mirrors was advertised in November 1815, followed by the announcement of an auction sale on the premises in December that year (Edinburgh Evening Courant 13 November 1815, 9 December 1815). The following year the sale at auction of the premises themselves was announced (Caledonian Mercury 5 February 1816). Marnoch owned two tenements, 31-32 Prince’s St, which consisted of a house on Prince’s St, a tenement behind built by the ‘late Mr Marnoch’, that is John Marnoch’s father, together with other tenements, to be offered at £5,490 and then, in the absence of a bid, to be offered in six lots, lot 1 being two ground floor shops occupied by Mr MacGregor, watchmaker, and Mr Raeburn, perfumer, lot 2 including Marnoch’s shop entered from the ‘Balcony’ with workshops behind, and lot 3 Marnoch’s dwelling house. Evidently the premises did not sell because they were offered again in 1819 (Caledonian Mercury 31 July 1819).
The sequestration records are revealing (National Archives of Scotland, CS 96/3072, 3073, extensive details kindly provided by Helen Smailes). They throw light on the nature of his business, his stock and his clients. Marnoch stated that his late father had sold a house belonging to him without handing over the proceeds and that he had been obliged to borrow £300 from his mother to carry on the business (3072, p.65). The inventory of his stock included miniature frames, mirror frames, fire screen stands, chimney glass frames, ornamental figures, dressing boxes, gilt eagles, drawing books and an organ (3072, p.24). It also included framed prints, some named, and two portfolios of prints after Raeburn, one containing 490 prints of Robert Blair (see below) and the other 190 prints of Lord Newton. He also owned the engraver’s plates for several prints, and a collection of some 8-10 paintings stored in London (3072, p.62). His clients included the artists, William Yellowlees and James Howe, portrait painter, Mr Weir, in 1813, Edinburgh carver and printseller, Daniel McIntosh (qv) (3073 pp.5-6, 11ff) and Edinburgh carvers and gilders, Peter Smith in 1810, and Alexander Robertson and Adam Elder in 1815.
Marnoch also received rent on 30 May 1816, ‘from Mr Raeburn for half years rent of shop in Princes Street’ (3073 p.53), but this was from Raeburn the perfumer, rather than the artist.
Marnoch continued trading at 32 Prince’s St until 1819. He advertised an exhibition of William Allan’s oriental pictures in 1817, followed by an exhibition of the work of Andrew Wilson, Professor of Drawing at Sandhurst (Edinburgh Evening Courant 8 March 1817). However, he does not appear to have fully recovered his business, which went through a series of partnership and address changes in the 1820s. It was listed as J. & A. Marnoch in 1823 and1824 and as John Marnoch & Co in 1827 and 1828. It is possible that John Marnoch went into partnership with his younger brother, Alexander (b.1797), who was described as a carver and gilder at the time of his marriage in 1832. Edinburgh directories also record an M. Marnoch at 11 Hanover Street in 1822 and 1823 and at 76 Prince’s St in 1824, unidentified unless Mary Marnoch, widow of John Marnoch senr, took on the business to keep it going.
Framing and publishing work: Marnoch’s frame label reads: JNo.MARNOCH./ Carver, Gilder,/ Looking Glass & Picture Framer,/ No.12/ Princes Street Edinburgh./ Has always on Hand great choice of/ Looking Glasses & New Prints (repr. Arnold Wiggins & Sons, A Hang of English Frames 1620-1920, 1996; see also identical example on back of mirror, repr. Bamford pl.34b). Marnoch’s label has been recorded on the back of a picture at Bowhill (Bamford p.85).
Marnoch appears to have acted as Henri Danloux’s framemaker, when this French exiled artist was in Edinburgh in 1796-97. Marnoch’s label can be found on three of Danloux’s portraits of c.1796, Comte d’Artois, Duc d’Angouleme and Duc de Berry, this last labelled as above (Versailles, information from Helen Smailes, from notes made by Xavier Salmon in or before 1997). Danloux advertised in February 1797, from his address at Charles St, Middlesex Hospital, London, that a print of the Bishop of Leon would soon be ready for delivery at Marnoch’s at 12 Prince’s St (Edinburgh Evening Courant 25 February 1797, see also 16 March 1797), while the following year Marnoch himself advertised a further print from a portrait by Danloux, that of the Duke of Buccleuch, available from his ‘Looking Glass and Print Shop’ at 12 Prince’s St (Edinburgh Evening Courant 3 December 1798).
Marnoch took subscriptions for Richard Earlom’s mezzotint of Henry Raeburn’s Thomas Elder in 1798 (Edinburgh Evening Courant 17 November 1798) and his son later published four prints after Raeburn: Andrew Hunter and Rev. David Johnston in 1810, Robert Blair from 32 Prince’s Street in 1813 and Lord Newton in 1814 (examples, British Museum). Subscriptions for Hunter were to be received at ‘John Marnoch’s looking-glass manufactory’ at 12 Prince’s Street (Edinburgh Evening Courant 23 July 1809).
Both father and son stocked or published prints of the work of other artists and sometimes showed the original painting from which the print was made.
Sources: All references to the Edinburgh Evening Courant kindly supplied by Helen Smailes, who also very generously made available her notes on Marnoch’s sequestration. Francis Bamford, A Dictionary of Edinburgh Wrights and Furniture Makers 1660-1840, in Furniture History, vol.19, 1983, p.85 (mistakenly identifying the business as James Marnoch & Co; see also Houliston 1999. For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.
Updated September 2015
Adrian Maskens by 1764-1798, John Maskens 1799-1808. At Mr Masters in King St, St Giles, London 1766, King St, Seven Dials 1774, 10 Bow St 1777-1778, 46 Compton St, Soho 1778-1785 or later, 42 Greek St by 1789-1808, 27 Little Newport St 1807. Carvers and gilders, picture framemakers.
Adrian or Adrianus Maskens (d.1798), followed by his son, John Maskens (b.1780), were picture framemakers, but the father also dealt extensively in pictures. Adrianus Maskens married Mary Passwater in 1764 at St James Clerkenwell (he signed the register with his mark). The father and then the son took out insurance with the Sun Fire Office in 1766, 1774, 1779, 1780, 1784, 1801 and 1807 (DEFM). In the 1766 insurance record, Adrianus Maskens, gilder, was at Mr Masters in King St, St Giles. He advertised in 1774 that his apprentice, William Price, had run away (Public Advertiser 4 January 1774). Adrianus Maskens described himself as a picture framemaker in his will, made 1 May and proved 22 December 1798, from which he appears to have been reasonably prosperous. He refers to his son John, his second son Adrianus who was still an apprentice, and several unmarried daughters. He also refers to his sister Mary at Brussels, apparently his home town.
Adrian Maskens advertised that he had opened a picture frame warehouse at 10 Bow St in 1777, ‘on the same plan as they have in France and Flanders’, with all sorts of patterns such as Italian, French, Flemish and Dutch (Morning Post and Daily Advertiser 25 January 1777). In this advertisement he stated that he has been trading for upwards of seven years. But a year later he was obliged to retrench in the face of difficulties, leaving his new Bow St premises and selling off a collection of pictures at auction (Morning Post 26 March 1778). He entered into what may have been a short-lived partnership with another carver, Louis Lejeune, as carvers, gilders and picture framemakers, a partnership which was dissolved in 1783 with Maskens described as carrying on the business (London Gazette 19 April 1783, information from James Smith).
His bill-head from his ‘Picture Frame Warehouse’ at 46 Compton St in 1780 advertised that he kept frames for standard size pictures in stock: 'Three Quarters, Kit-Cats and half lengths may be had in a Minutes Notice for Ready Money only' (Heal coll. 96.8, see Simon 1996 p.137). He produced frames to James Barry’s design for the artist’s series of paintings for the Society of Arts in 1781. ‘A. Maskens’, picture framemaker, acted as a supplier to the 3rd Earl of Egremont, 1783-5 (West Sussex Record Office, PHA/7539, Petworth House Archives). ‘Maskins’ made two picture frames for Edward Knight, Kidderminster in 1792 (information from Nicholas Penny, 1994).
Adrian Maskens also dealt in pictures, using John Greenwood to hold an auction on his own premises at 46 Compton St in February 1780, comprising ‘pictures, large and elegant pier and other glasses, French commodes, capital prints, drawings, &c’ (Courtauld Institute of Art Library, see English Short Title Catalogue). In 1784 he advertised that he had opened a depository for the sale of pictures, drawings, prints and models, subsequently describing his premises as auction rooms (Gazeteer and New Daily Advertiser 24 February 1784, 27 January 1785). In 1786 he advertised a further sale as he was, supposedly, retiring to Brussels (Morning Post and Daily Advertiser 23 January 1786). In 1794 the picture cleaner Charles Birch took out insurance from Maskens’ premises, presumably occupying an upper floor or room.
John Maskens: John Maskens was christened at St Anne Soho in 1780, the son of Adrianus and Mary Maskens. In 1799, he advertised that he was continuing his late father’s business for the benefit of the widow and family (The Times 4 January 1799). Two years later, he advertised as a picture framemaker, referring to his late father, and advertising that he had procured from Paris a collection of drawings of frames embellishing pictures in the Institute National des Sciences et des Arts (The Times 9 June 1801), an indication of the ongoing importance of French taste for English framemakers. In 1804 he advertised for sale with vacant possession the 25 remaining years of his lease at 42 Greek St (Morning Chronicle 11 May 1804).
Sources: H. Trueman Wood, A Note on the Pictures by James Barry in the Great Room of the Society of Arts, 1880, p.7; DEFM; London Metropolitan Archives, Sun Fire Office policy registers, 171/238796, 228/335625, 276/415979, 277/416683, 284/431188, 322/494544, 401/624965 (for Birch), 419/718195, 440/800677. For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.
William Mason, Repository of Arts, 1 Ship St, Brighton by 1832-1838, 81 King’s Road 1839-1848 or later, 80 King’s Road 1848-1850, 108 King’s Road 1851-1873. Printseller and publisher, carver and gilder.
See British artists' suppliers on the National Portrait Gallery website.
Updated March 2014
Charles Mathyson, Grafton St, London 1742-1748, Maiden Lane, Covent Garden 1749-1772. Picture framemaker, picture dealer.
The picture framemaker, Charles Mathyson (?1691-1772), is probably the man of this name christened at St Martin-in-the-Fields in 1691, who married firstly Christiane Taylor in 1728, and secondly Ann Brown in 1741, on both occasions at St Martin-in-the-Fields. He can be found in Grafton St in rate books, 1742-8. He then moved to Maiden Lane. In his will, made 9 July and proved 9 November 1772, Charles Mathyson, picture dealer of Maiden Lane, bequeathed much of his estate to his daughter Charlotte, wife of Charles Salmon (qv), framemaker of Little Bedford St.
Mathyson’s impressive trade card from Maiden Lane describes him as picture framemaker, advertising ‘all sorts of Frames for Paintings, Glasses and Prints in Black or Gold’ (repr. Heal 1972 p.109, Simon 1996 p.137, examples at Guildhall Library). The miniature painter, George Powle, used Mathyson’s Maiden Lane address in the Society of Artists exhibition catalogue in 1769. It is worth noting that an individual by the name, Charles Mattison, was reported as having been approved as picture framemaker and gilder to the royal palaces in 1739 (Gentleman’s Magazine December 1739; Daily Post 14 December 1739, information from Gordon Balderston).
Mathyson is recorded as a buyer at picture sales, in 1750 and 1758 (V&A National Art Library, 86.OO.18-19, ‘Sale catalogues of the principal collections of pictures..., 1711-1759’). He may possibly be the ‘Mattason’ who purchased four pictures at auction as early as 1726 (Historical Manuscripts Commission, Report on the Manuscripts of His Grace The Duke of Portland, K.G., preserved at Welbeck Abbey, vol.6, 1901, pp.11-14).
For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.
Thomas Maws, address unknown. Picture framemaker.
Thomas Maws has not been traced in the standard sources used in compiling this online resource. He is, however, recorded by Vern Swanson as working with Lawrence Alma-Tadema (Vern Swanson, The Biography and Catalogue Raisonne of Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, 1990, p.87), and is reported to have made frames for Alma-Tadema’s The Death of Galswintha, 1865, to the artist’s design (Swanson no.71), and for his Goldfish, 1899, op 359 (Swanson no.396; Sotheby's New York 24 May 1988 lot 97). He may also have worked for Sir Edward Poynter (information from Vern Swanson, 2007).
Updated March 2016
Charles Mitchell May 1873-1900, C.M. May & Son 1901-1922. At 15 Marshall St, Golden Square, London 1873-1879, 19 St Anne’s Court, Wardour St 1880-1911, 18 St Anne’s Court 1892-1911, 134 Wardour St 1912-1915, 9-12 St Anne’s Court 1916-1922. Also at 5 Bentinck St 1881, 28 Robert St NW 1891-1899, 126 Wardour St 1901-1904. Carvers and gilders, picture and looking glass framemakers.
Charles Mitchell May (c.1840-1914), later trading as C.M. May & Son, called himself 'English & French Picture Frame Maker'. He was born in Bath, married Sarah Mann at Widecombe in 1860, and by 1865 they had moved to London; they had five daughters and a son, Charles May (1875-1957). In the 1871 census Charles Mitchell May was listed at 41 King St, Soho as a carver and gilder, probably not self-employed at this time. In 1873 he set up in business at 15 Marshall St, premises previously occupied by another long-standing carver and gilder, William Bayly (qv). In the 1891 census Charles M. May was recorded living at 28 Robert St, St Pancras, as a picture framemaker, age 50, with son, Charles May, age 15, working as a picture framemaker’s apprentice. He died in South Hounslow in 1914, leaving effects worth £3223. The business then seems to have been run by his only son, also Charles May (1875-1957), until its closure in 1922.
Charles Mitchell May advertised extensively (The Artists' Directory 1874, p.10; The Artists’ Directory 1875, p.196, etc). In The Year’s Art in 1884, he advertised as a pictures packer, in 1891 as a ‘Carver, Gilder, and High Class English and French Picture Frame Manufacturer, patronized by the leading artists of the day’, referring to his ‘thoroughly competent workmen, English and French’ and to his steam manufactory, and claiming to have carried on his business for twenty years at the St Anne’s Court address. In 1900 he simply advertised, ‘English & French Picture Frame Maker. Artist’s own design carried out’. He also offered to clean, line and restore pictures, according to his trade label.
May worked for various leading artists. He undertook some picture framing for Whistler in the mid-1880s. Whistler wrote to his dealer, Charles Dowdeswell, in 1884 or 1886, wanting three more frames immediately, and asking Dowdeswell to let ‘May’ have the appropriate measurements. Probably in 1886, May took out a writ for debt against Whistler, as the artist’s correspondence reveals (Correspondence of James McNeill Whistler). Subsequently, Whistler began using F.H. Grau (qv) for picture framing.
May and his son worked for John Singer Sargent in the period 1894-1922, framing his pictures and handling his Royal Academy exhibits (see Notes on John Singer Sargent's frames on the National Portrait Gallery website). He framed Sargent's Coventry Patmore, 1894, and Sir Frank Swettenham, 1904 (both National Portrait Gallery, repr. Simon 1996 pp.77, 183); the latter is identical to the frame on Lady Helen Vincent (1904, Birmingham Museum of Art, Alabama). He also provided the enriched Louis XIV frame for The Acheson Sisters, 1902 (Trustees of the Chatsworth Settlement, information from Charles Noble, August 2006) and another frame in the Louis XIV style for his Hospital at Granada, 1912 (National Gallery of Victoria, Australia, see Payne 2007 p.121). A letter from Sargent, 29 March 1922, mentions his General Officers of WW1 (National Portrait Galley) being taken to the Royal Academy by May.
May also worked for Sir Luke Fildes, gilding frames obtained from Italy (information from Charles Noble, 1997, based on the artist's papers in the V&A National Art Library). In an article on picture framing from the artist's point of view, Byam Shaw explained that he used 'old French frames, as made by May', but went to Taylor, presumably H.W. Taylor (qv) for his less expensive frames (Fine Art Trade Journal, vol.3, 1908, information from Jeremy Adamson, 1998). Other frames by May include David Murray’s On the Thames, 1898 (National Gallery of Victoria, see Payne 2007 p.119).
As part of a wider programme of framing the work of war artists following the First World War, May & Son provided details of a frame in 1919 (Imperial War Museum, bound papers, ‘First World War Frames’).
Sources: I am grateful to Dorothy Barlow for providing biographical information concerning her grandfather, Charles Mitchell May and his family.
*Harry Edward Mealand 1894-1940, Mealands Knightsbridge Ltd 1941-1975. At 7 Knightsbridge Green, London SW 1894-1895, 6-8 (sometimes also 9) Knightsbridge Green 1896-1903, renumbered 1903/4, 11-13 Knightsbridge Green 1904-1940, 12 (sometimes also 11) Knightsbridge Green 1941-1975. Carvers and gilders, initially also paper hanging dealer, later also oil and colourmen.
Harry Edward Mealand (1862-1938) carried on business with Harry Jocelyn Jeffries as Lambert & Co, carvers, gilders, picture frame makers and decorators at 36 Albert Gate and 7 Knightsbridge Green until the partnership was dissolved in 1893 (London Gazette 3 October 1893). He then set up independently. He had an account with Roberson, 1900-8, from 4 & 6 Park Mansions, Knightsbridge (Woodcock 1997). He was an executor of the will of Frank William Trotman, who died in the army in France in 1916 and who was perhaps the son of Frank Trotman (see under John Sherborn). In census records, he was listed in 1901 in Putney as a picture framemaker, age 38, born Brighton, with wife, age 46, and two young daughters, and in 1911 in Wandsworth as a picture frame manufacturer, with a son Harry Gordon, age 20, a picture frame gilder. He died at Amersham in 1938, leaving an estate worth £4909.
On his headed paper in 1916, Mealand advertised his business as established in 1883 and described himself as a designer and manufacturer of mouldings, photograph frames, screens, exhibition cases for miniatures, medals and fans, fancy goods, etc (Norfolk Record Office, OLL 2556/11, Locker-Lampson collection).
The Mealand business acted as a distributor for Reeves in the mid-1930s, with the Mealand imprint found on Reeves’s trade catalogue (An Abridged Price List of British-made Artists’ Colours and Drawing Materials, 128pp, 1934 or later). By 1970 it had become a branch of Clifford Milburn Ltd, Reeves’s retail arm (The Artist, vol.80, November 1970, p.xi). A marked canvas has been recorded, 1899.
*Robert Menzies 1875-1886, Robert Menzies & Son 1887-1904, Robert Menzies & Sons 1905-1908, Charles R. Menzies 1909-1943. At 44-46 Cambridge St, Glasgow 1875-1880, 86 & 90 Cambridge St 1881, 87 Cambridge St 1882-1940, 89 Cambridge St 1941-1943, workshop 10 Hill St 1882-1888. Carvers and gilders, picture framemakers.
Robert Menzies (1816-98), carver and gilder, and then his son, Charles Ramage Menzies (1860-1947), traded as picture framemakers in Cambridge St in Glasgow for some seventy years.
Robert Menzies was born in Glasgow in 1816, his birth registered in 1821, the son of Archibald Menzies, a flax dresser or rope merchant (according respectively to the registers for Robert’s birth and death). He can be traced in census records as a picture framemaker (as a carver and gilder in 1881) and was in business independently as a picture framemaker in Cambridge St from 1875. He can be found in 1851 at 166 West Regent St in the household of his sister, Jessie. He married Jemima Ramage in January 1854. In subsequent censuses, he was recorded in 1861 at 68 Cambridge St with wife Jemima and son Charles Ramage Menzies, age 11 months, in 1881 at 90 Cambridge St with wife, son and daughter, and in 1891 at 2 Hill St. He died at 2 Hill St in 1898, his age given as 84.
His son, Charles Ramage Menzies (1860-1947), was born in Glasgow. He joined his father in the business as Robert Menzies & Son in 1887 and took it over in his own name from 1909. He was listed in the 1891 census at 35 Steven St, as a picture framemaker, age 30, in 1901 at Hill St as a carver and gilder, and in 1911 at 12 Blytheswood Drive as a picture framemaker, art dealer and employer, with his wife Christina and son Robert, age 22, a gilder and picture framemaker.
Framing work: Robert Menzies & Son’s label as gilders and picture framemakers at 87 Cambridge St, workshop at 10 Hill St, can be found on David Young Cameron's watercolour, The Valley (Scottish private collection, 2012). Charles R. Menzies's label can be found on two of Cameron's distinctive artist-designed picture frames, Isles of the Sea, c.1909, and Nightfall, Luxor, 1910 (both Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool).
*Thomas Merle 1783-1814, T. Merle & Son 1815-1828, John Merle 1824-1826. The Golden Key, 36 Leadenhall St, London 1783-1828. Picture framemakers, carvers and gilders, printsellers.
Thomas Merle (c.1753-1819) was successor to another picture framemaker, Joseph Overlove (qv), whose will was proved in 1782. He was apprenticed to Joseph Hodges, poulterer, in 1768, turned over to another master, Thomas Thoroughgood, weaver, in 1769 and to Samuel Deering, glover, in 1774. He is presumably to be identified with the Thomas Merle, who married Martha Tarless in 1778 and had six children between 1780 and 1790, three of them christened at St Katherine Cree in Leadenhall St, including a son, Thomas Robert Merle (1787-1837). Thomas Merle died at Tooting in 1819 at the age of 66 and was buried at St Katherine Cree (Jackson’s Oxford Journal 27 November 1819).
Thomas Merle’s trade label described him as 'Successor to the late Mr. Overlove. Picture Frame Maker, Carver, Gilder & Printseller' (repr. Gilbert 1996 p.327; example in Heal coll. 96.10; see below for transcript). A labelled oval giltwood mirror frame is recorded (DEFM). Merle is said to have framed George Morland's pictures and has been described as one of the 'few sincere friends who never took advantage of Morland's distress'. He acted as a an occasional print publisher from 1785 to 1821, issuing Thomas Rowlandson’s etching of George Morland’s Snipe Shooting, 1790, and mezzotints of Thomas Stewardson’s Joseph Cotton, 1808, and Philip Hurd, 1821 (see British Museum collection database; see also National Maritime Museum collection database where it is identified that Stewardson was based in Leadenhall St, 1804-11, and so near Merle’s). He offered to clean, line and mend pictures, subcontracting such work to Robert Brown seven times between 1797 and 1801 (for Brown, see British picture restorers on the National Portrait Gallery website).
Framing work: Thomas Merle acted as Thomas Luny's London agent from early in the 1780s; he purchased a work from him in 1807 and still had dealings with him as late as 1817, ten years after the artist had moved permanently to Teignmouth (C. Jane Baker, Thomas Luny (1759-1837), exh.cat., Royal Albert Memorial Museum, 1982, pp.6, 12, 22; information from Dr Pieter van der Merwe). Luny’s Battle of the Saints, 1782 (National Maritime Museum), has Merle’s label: ‘THOMAS [hanging key] MERLE/ (Successor to the late Mr Overlove)/ Picture Frame Maker, Carver, Gilder & Printseller/ at the Golden Key No.36 Leadenhall Street/ London./ Makes & Sells all sorts of Picture Frames, Carves & Gilds Looking/ Glass Frames & Girandoles in the neatest Taste & at the most/ Reasonable Prices. Landscapes & Sea Pieces neatly Painted./ Pictures carefully cleaned, lined & mended./ Old Frames new Gilt on the shortest / Notice./ Mouldings of different Patterns & Lengths for the conveniency of Exportation’. Luny used Merle’s address at 36 Leadenhall St when exhibiting in 1783 at the Free Society.
Merle acted for another marine painter, William John Huggins, who used his address for his Royal Academy exhibits, 1817-23 (information from Dr Pieter van der Merwe, who points out that Leadenhall St, as the location of East India House, was a focus of nautically related trades).
Sources: George C. Williamson, George Morland: his life and works, 1904, p.63; Charles Russell, English Mezzotint Portraits and their states, vol.2, 1926, p.360; research by Dr Pieter van der Merwe on the National Maritime Museum website at http://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/12193.html, accessed 7 May 2012. For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.
Henri Meunier 1900-1913, Meunier & Co Ltd 1913-1920. At 24 Moore St, Edgware Road, London W 1900-1905, 26 Nutford Place, Edgware Road 1904-1905, 14 Church St, Kensington 1906-1908, 26 Earl’s Court Road 1909-1920. Artistic cabinetmaker, picture framemaker, importer of artists’ materials.
See British artists' suppliers on the National Portrait Gallery website.
James Milbourne 1773-1808, James Milbourne & Son 1804-1810, James and Robert Milbourne 1810-1818, James Milbourne junr 1818-1828, James Milbourne 1830-1832, James Milbourne & Son 1834-1841, James Milbourne 1841-1852. At 221 Strand (‘near Temple Bar’)1773-1793, 347 Strand (‘near Exeter Exchange’)1793-1833, 195 Strand (‘opposite St Clements Church’) 1833-1852. Carvers and gilders, picture frame and looking glass makers, glass grinders.
The Milbourne business was carried on over three generations. The founder, James Milbourne (c.1745-1826), was active from the 1770s, in partnership with his sons from about 1804, until his retirement in March 1810, when the partnership between James Milbourne senr, James Milbourne junr and Robert Milbourne, trading as James Milbourne & Son, carvers and gilders of the Strand, was dissolved, and the business carried on by the two sons, James and Robert (London Gazette 24 April 1810). James Milbourne (1775-1839) traded in partnership with his brother Robert (1779-1858) until 1818 when this partnership was in turn dissolved (London Gazette 8 September 1818; the year given for the dissolution, 1815, may be a misprint). He then continued on his own until the early 1830s, when he was joined in turn by his son, also James Milbourne (1800-71), who continued in business until 1852. Robert Milbourne went on to trade independently as a carver and gilder in and around Lambeth, 1823-34. It is worth looking at each generation in more detail, noting that the family name was sometimes spelt in directories and documents as Milborne, Milbourn, Milburn or Millbourne. This account is indebted to Ross Milbourne in various ways, see Sources below.
The first generation: The founder, James (c.1745-1826), and his wife Mary had numerous children between 1771 and 1794, including James, born 1775, and Robert, born 1779, both in the parish of St Clement Danes. James Milbourne is first recorded at 221 Strand in the Poor Rate books in 1773 and as a carver in the Strand in the 1774 Westminster poll book. He took Thomas Young as an apprentice for a premium of £30 in 1784. His trade label, perhaps dating to the 1790s, describes the business as 'J. Milbourne's Looking Glass and Frame Manufactory, 347, Near Exeter Change, Strand, Removed from 221 near Temple Bar, Carver & Gilder in General, Great Variety of Looking Glasses, Girandoles, &c' (label on John Downman’s Countess of Mansfield, Christie's 7 April 1998 lot 10). He is said to have been at 121 Strand, 1789-93 (DEFM), but this appears incorrect.
A friend of John Wesley, James Milbourne commissioned a portrait of Wesley from William Hamilton in 1787, which was given by his grandson, also James Milbourne, to the National Portrait Gallery in 1871 (John Kerslake, Early Georgian Portraits. National Portrait Gallery, 1977, pp.298-9). At his death in 1826 James Milbourne made bequests in a lengthy will, made 24 March and proved 31 July 1826, to his sons, James, carver and gilder in the Strand, Robert, carver and gilder in Lambeth, and Thomas, a jeweller at Brighton. James Milbourne and other members of the family were buried at Wesley's Chapel in City Road, London. Thomas Milbourne married Penelope Fentham, daughter of Thomas Fentham (qv), whose workshops were also in the Strand.
Joseph Wright of Derby described Milbourne as ‘my framemaker’ in correspondence in 1787 (Barker 2009 p.124, letter 76) and he gave ‘Mr. Melbourne’s, Carver, in the Strand, near Temple-bar’ as his address in the 1788 Royal Academy exhibition catalogue. Further references to Milbourne occur in Wright’s correspondence in 1789 and 1794 (letters 89, 120) and presumably it was Milbourne who was responsible for producing Wright’s frames in the classical style (see Mitchell 1990 p.283). It would seem that Wright was aware of Milbourne by 1780, perhaps as early as 1772, from an undated reference to a friend paying a framing bill to ‘Milbourn’ (Mitchell 1990 p.276, see also Barker 2009 pp.21, 213 n.124). Wright’s friend, John Holland, also used Milbourne, who invoiced him in 1805 for supplying a Rembrandt print, colours and pencils (Barker 2009 p.213 n.124).
The second and third generations: The son, James Milbourne junr (1775-1839), was recorded in the parish of St Clement Danes, and had five children by Maria Christiane, including the eldest, James, in 1800. In each case the spelling, ‘Milbourn’, was used. Like many framemakers, ‘Milbourn’ used the specialist composition ornament maker, George Jackson (qv), for the supply of composition ornament, probably to decorate mirror or picture frames, 1815-6 (see Jackson account book, V&A Archive of Art and Design, AAD/2012/1/2/1). In 1825, James Milbourne 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). In his will, made 27 August 1833 and proved 23 November 1839, Milbourne referred both to his father, James, and his son, also James. He described himself as a looking glass manufacturer at 195 Strand, and referred also to his brother, Thomas.
The business framed four portraits for Anne Lister of Shibden Hall, Yorkshire, in 1833, and fifteen prints in 1834, and she has left a description of the experience of commissioning the portrait frames during a visit to London; these frames survive and bear Milbourne & Son's label as 'Manufacturers of Looking Glasses, Picture Frames etc. No. 195 Strand, opposite St Clements Church' (see Sources below).
The grandson, James Milbourne (1800-71), was recorded in the 1841 census as a carver and gilder, and in 1851 as a printseller at 195 Strand, age 50, born St Clement’s.
Sources: Information kindly supplied by Ross Milbourne, 23 July 2007, including the birth date of the senior James Milbourne, his occupancy of 221 Strand from 1773 and his links to Wesley, the death dates of Robert Milbourne and James Milbourne the grandson, and the links by marriage with the Brydon and Fentham families. Hazel Brothers, 'Framing the Shibden Hall Portraits: A commission fulfilled by Anne Lister during an awkward stay in London 1833', Transactions of the Halifax Antiquarian Society, vol.4, 1996, pp.111-25. For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.
James Miller, 52 Centre St, Tradeston, Glasgow 1838-1840, Hope St 1841, 50 Sauchiehall St 1842-1847, 52 Sauchiehall St 1848-1850, 37 Renfrew Lane 1851-1863, 42 Sauchiehall St 1857-1870, 71 Sauchiehall St 1871-1874, 137 Sauchiehall St 1875-1880, also at 68 Sauchiehall Lane 1877-1879. Joiner and cabinetmaker, also picture framemaker from 1842, carver and gilder from 1866, picture liner and restorer from 1869, and artists’ colourman from 1872. Alexander Miller, 137 Sauchiehall St, Glasgow by 1877-1880, artists’ colourman, carver and gilder, picture restorer.
See British artists' suppliers on the National Portrait Gallery website.
Charles Benoni Milsom (1846-1921?), see James Henry Chance
*George Minns & Co, 65 Berwick St, Oxford St, London 1899-1920, 27 D’Arblay St W1 1921-1922. Carvers and gilders, picture framemakers.
George Christopher Minns (1849-1937) was listed in the 1891 census as a framemaker, age 42, at 129 Wardour St, the premises of Foord & Dickinson (qv), where he was presumably an employee or manager. By the time of the 1901 census, when his birthplace was given as Abingdon in Berkshire, he was living in Willesden, where he was again recorded in 1911 as a picture framemaker and employer. There is no evidence beyond the name to connect him with George Minns & Co, listed as gold beaters in 1858, or with George Minns, who advertised as a gold leaf manufacturer in the 1870s and early 1880s.
George Minns & Co was successor in business to Foord & Dickinson (qv), advertising in The Year’s Art from 1900 to 1912 as ‘late Foord & Dickinson’, and offering a wide range of services from mounting drawings, cleaning pictures and engravings, arranging galleries and hanging pictures, collecting works of art and making frames and artists' own designs. Foord’s customers who stayed with Minns included Frederick Sandys, who recommended him in 1903 to Ernest Brown of the Leicester Galleries (Simon 1996 p.175); Minns supplied the frame for Sandys's drawing, Mrs Elizabeth Wylie, 1901 (Norwich Castle Museum, see Elzea 2001 p.291).
George Minns faced increasing financial difficulties. From 1912 he received a series of loans from the watercolour painter, W. Matthew Hale, totalling £310 by 1918, which Hale agreed to write off in 1922 as his correspondence reveals (Bristol Record Office, Hale Bequest archive, kindly communicated by Ann Roberts, August 2008). Hale knew Minns by 1908 when he gave his address as c/o George Minns. In May 1922, John Broughton Knight, a friend of Minns, wrote to Hale to say that Minns found himself in a ‘very distressed’ position, ‘in consequence of the rage for cheaper and machine made work, his own speciality of good hand-made framing and gilding has fallen into disuse, and he has only been able to struggle on and earn a bare living of £2 to £3 a week’. Hale responded referring to ‘the change of fashion, & the little demand for such first-rate work as he was doing at the time’, and, in a further letter to Minns himself, refers to the help which Minns had given him in framing and preparing his work for exhibitions.
George Christopher Minns of Westgate-on-Sea died age 88 at Margate in 1937, leaving effects worth £324.
For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.
*Rickman Moore 1794-1822, R. Moore & Son, also trading as Moore & Co 1820-1828, William Moore 1828-1848, (William) Moore & Co 1849-1856 or later. At 63 Bishopsgate (‘Bishopsgate within’), London by 1794-1856 or later. Stationers and paper hangers, picture framemakers from c.1840.
Rickman Moore (b.1763), son of John and Elizabeth Moore, was apprenticed to a draper, John Merry, in 1777. He married Ann Armitage in 1787 at St Helen Bishopsgate. He traded in partnership with his father-in-law as Armitage & Moore, stationers, from 1787 to 1796. His son, William Moore (1792-1846), was christened in 1792 at St Ethelburga Bishopsgate and died in 1846, when living at 62 Bishopsgate. His grandson, Rickman Monnery Moore (b.1811), oil and colourman of Bishopsgate St, was made bankrupt in 1834 (London Gazette 18 November 1834).
In 1839 William Moore was listed as a stationer and paper hanger, his father’s business, but thereafter he branched out into picture framing. In 1844 William Moore advertised to artists and the public his 'extensive Stock of Picture Frames, well-seasoned and of first-rate quality, the patterns bold, elegant, and novel, at prices lower than any house in the trade', also advertising artists' materials (The Art-Union March 1844 p.73, June 1844 p.151).
*George Bowen & Co 1796, Bowen & Morant 1808-1812, George Morant by 1814-1826, G. Morant & Son 1828-1841, George John Morant 1842-1851, Morant & Boyd 1852-1859, Morant, Boyd & Morant 1859-1867, Morant, Boyd, Morant & Co 1868-1869, Morant, Boyd & Blanford 1870-1884, Morant & Co 1885-1915. At 81 New Bond St, London 1796, 1808/9-1812, 88 New Bond St 1809-1841, 91 New Bond St 1842-1915, 4, 5, 6, later 7 Woodstock St, W 1855-1915. Paper hangers, carvers and gilders, picture framemakers, later primarily interior decorators and upholsterers.
This business, founded by George Morant (1770-1846) and continued by his son, George John Morant (1799-1865), lasted for more than a century in one form or another. Its trade in picture frames was particularly significant in the 1820s.
George Morant is said to have been a pupil or employee of the decorator, Sheringham, in about 1793 (Joy 1977 pp.179-80). Subsequently, Morant entered into three short-lived partnerships. That between Morant and Mason, ornament painters at 93 Wimpole St is documented by a trade card, dated in manuscript 1799 (Banks coll. 90.45). That between Archibald Johnson, George Morant and John Tootle, paper hangers and glass manufacturers, trading as Johnson & Morant, at 41 Ludgate Hill, from 1805 or earlier, was dissolved in 1808 (London Gazette 23 February 1808). That between G. Bowen and G. Morant, paper hanging decorators at 81 New Bond St from c.1808 was dissolved in 1812 (The Times 10 February 1812), although the partnership continued to be listed in the Post Office London directory until 1816. Bowen had been in business at 81 New Bond St as early as 1796, when his partnership with John Sheringham was dissolved (London Gazette 17 January 1797), and it may be that it is these origins which lay behind Morant’s later claim that his business had been founded in 1790. Bowen & Morant’s trade card (Banks coll. 90.9), dated in manuscript 1809, is to the same design as that of Morant & Mason.
Apparently by 1812 Morant was trading independently at 88 New Bond St. The architect, J.B. Papworth, once his fellow pupil at Sheringham’s, redesigned his shop for him in 1817 (Simon 1996 p.127). Over many years Papworth provided Morant with designs for decoration and ornament, and worked for Morant on his residence at Hendon (George McHardy, Catalogue of the Drawings Collection of the Royal Institute of British Architects: Office of J.B. Papworth, 1977, pp.28, 32, 118).
Like other businesses of the period, Morant was a customer of the specialist composition ornament maker, George Jackson (qv), 1817, and later, as George Morant & Son, of George Jackson & Sons, 1836-42, as is apparent from two Jackson account books recently acquired by the V&A Archive of Art and Design (AAD/2012/1/2/1, 3). Morant’s orders in 1817 were for lettering for a pedestal, miniature frames, composition ornament to decorate frames and some larger frames.
Morant built up a significant business. He took out insurance for a considerable sum with the Sun Fire Office at 88 New Bond St as a house decorator, painter, carver and gilder in 1824 and as a paper hanger in 1826 (London Metropolitan Archives, Sun Fire Office policy registers, vols 495, 515, see DEFM). He was appointed carver and gilder and picture framemaker to George IV in June 1824 (National Archives, LC 3/69 p.69). He entered into partnership with his son in the late 1820s but this partnership, G. Morant and Son, house decorators of New Bond St, was dissolved on his retirement in 1841 (The Times 28 August 1841). In his lengthy will, made 10 August and proved 10 December 1846, George Morant of Wimpole St made numerous specific bequests, referring to various paintings, and to business arrangements with his son, George John, since the dissolution of their partnership in 1841.
As a paper hanger and interior decorator, Morant and his successors played a leading role. For a fuller account, see the Dictionary of English Furniture Makers, where his earliest known bill-heads, from 88 New Bond St, are quoted, from the beginning of George IV’s reign, describing him as ‘Ornamental Painter and Paper-hanging Manufacturer to their Royal Highnesses the Dukes of Sussex and Cambridge… House Painting and every article in the Gilding Line.’
As a framemaker, Morant was most active in the 1820s, primarily framing work for Sir Thomas Lawrence, such as his full-length portraits, 2nd Earl of Harewood, 1823 (Harewood House, Yorkshire, the frame now on George IV, Wallace Collection, repr. Michael Gregory, ‘Picture Framing: Lawrence, Morant and a Picture Frame from Harewood’, Museum Management and Curatorship, vol.15, 1996, p.424), George Canning, 1825, and Lord Liverpool, 1827, both for Sir Robert Peel (both National Portrait Gallery, see Simon 1996 fig.103). He did further framing work for Peel in 1828 (Simon 1996 p.170, n.2). In 1830 and subsequently Morant received several significant payments from the estate of Thomas Lawrence, including a payment of £646 on 24 June 1830 (V&A National Art Library, MSL/1938/1923). Morant’s frame trade label from the 1820s described him as ‘Carver, Gilder and Picture Frame Maker to His Majesty’ (repr. Simon 1996 p.100). Many of the frames he made for George IV for portraits by Lawrence between 1825 and 1830 were described as very richly ornamented, the larger frames costing as much as £46.10s (Millar 1969 p.60, etc). G. Morant & Son charged Sir John Soane £21 in February 1829 for framing a portrait, presumably Lawrence’s portrait of Soane himself, in a ‘richly ornamented frame of the King’s Pattern’ (information from the late Peter Thornton, 1994). See also Lawrence's framemakers on the National Portrait Gallery website.
As a collector, Morant acquired old masters and patronised various contemporary artists, often acquiring works in exchange for framing and other services. James Ward sold Morant a Farmyard for £52.10s in 1820, at the same time paying him more than £207 to cover his 'Bill for Exhibition &c &c in Piccadilla' (Royal Academy Library, James Ward account book). Anthony Vandyke Copley Fielding sold Morant a drawing in 1824 and later received frames for various drawings up until December 1828 (Edinburgh University Library, La.II.648/165-6). Richard Ramsay Reinagle sold Morant a picture by David Teniers in 1825 (Edinburgh University Library, La.II.648/174). Morant’s collection of contemporary and old masters was auctioned at Phillips in 1832, supposedly on his retirement from business (The Times 2 May 1832; see also Judy Crosby Ivy, Constable and the Critics, 1802-1837, Woodbridge, 1991, p.159).
In 1862 the business, trading as Morant, Boyd & Morant, was described as interior decorators and upholsterers, by appointment to her Majesty. The business appears to have ceased making picture frames. It passed by way of George John Morant to Robert Morant (d.1873), who was joined by two other partners, Philip Boyd and Thomas Blanford, who in turn took into partnership their manager, Andrew Matthews, who eventually owned the entire business, according to an account in one of the firm’s publications (The Morant Collection of Old Velvets, Damasks, Brocades, Etc at 91 New Bond St, London, Virtue & Co, introduction by M. Jourdain, n.d., c.1910, pp.116-7).
For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.
*Hyman Morell 1865-1922, Hyman Morell & Sons Ltd 1923-1948. At 18 Great St Andrew St, Bloomsbury, London WC2 1865-1939, 17 Great St Andrew St 1886-1939, street renamed 1939, 9 Monmouth St WC2 1939-1948, warehouses adjoining in Neal St and Neal’s Yard by 1884. Wholesale and retail picture framemakers and moulding manufacturers.
The business was said to have been founded in 1860, presumably by Hyman Jonas Morell (c.1821-1879), who was naturalised as British in 1868 (National Archives, HO 1/147/5725). In censuses, he appears in 1861 as a cigar manufacturer’s foreman, age 40, born in Holland, living in Whitechapel with a wife and five children, and not until 1871 as a picture framemaker, employing three men and five boys, at 18 St Andrew St. He died in 1879, leaving a personal estate of under £10,000, described as a moulding manufacturer and importer of mouldings, with probate granted to his widow Charlotte Mossel Morell and son Joshua Morell. In the 1881 census his widow, Charlotte, age 57, was listed as a picture frame dealer, with a son James, age 27, and a nephew Joshua, age 28, both presumably in the business. She died in 1894.
In 1911 Joshua Morrell, now age 59, born in Holland, was listed as a picture frame manufacturer, living at 12 Gower St with his large family. He died at the age of 68 in 1920 in the St Giles district, leaving effects to the considerable sum of £64,141, with probate granted to Sara his widow and to Michael and Jonas Morrell, picture frame manufacturers, presumably his sons.
Framing work: Morell’s range in the late 1870s is apparent from his advertising: ‘Manufacturer of every description of Veneered, Maple, Rosewood, Walnut, Oak, and Fancy Wood Mouldings, And also of the best Patent Washable Gilt, Rosewood, Oak, Walnut and Black Mouldings, Plain and Ornamental, for Frames, and also for Decorations. White Alhambra (for Gilding), and every other description of Mouldings and Picture Frames. Carved Frames, Oval Frames, Engravings…, Foreign and English Mounts, Mounting Boards… Wholesale and Retail’, offering an illustrated book of patterns and catalogue (Charles H. Savory, The Practical Carver and Gilder’s Guide..., 5th ed, Cirencester, c.1877 or later, p.xv). Morell was an importer as well as a manufacturer. Some of his mouldings were labelled as made in Holland.
The business published catalogues from as early as 1877 (see above). In 1902 it advertised a ‘New Edition of Pattern Book, containing all the Newest Designs. 160 pages’ (The Year’s Art 1902). In Morell’s 50th-anniversary catalogue, published in 1910 (Illustrated Trade List, 193pp, reissued by Dover Publications as Victorian Wooden Molding and Frame Designs, 1992), a very wide range of frames and mouldings are illustrated at full size. These include washable old gold mouldings, washable gilt Alhambra and ornamental picture frame mouldings, gilt Florentine mouldings, washable green and bronze, green and gilt and green and ivory tipped mouldings, green and gilt ornamental mouldings, veneered stained green and gilt ornamental mouldings, ornamental black and gold frame mouldings, black mouldings, imitation walnut and gilt mouldings, imitation mahogany mouldings, veneered gilt oak mouldings, oxidised silver mouldings, white enamel mouldings with gilt ornaments, inlaid Sheraton polished mouldings, carved solid mouldings, solid oak mouldings and mouldings in the white.
A later trade card, inscribed as presented by Jack Morell, is in the John Johnson collection (Johnson coll. Trade Cards 24 (56) and a later ‘Stock Catalogue’, probably dating to after 1923, features real carved mouldings, friezes, ornaments, and cut-out overlay mouldings etc (Tate Archive, Sielle collection).
Added September 2013
Robert Moseley from 1801, Moseley & Tunnicliffe (or Tunnicliff) by 1808-1819, Robert Moseley 1819-1841, Moseley & Nephew 1841-1846, Henry Moseley & Co 1846-1848, Henry Moseley 1852d-1869. At St Peter’s St, Derby 1801, Corn Market, Derby 1806-1808, Brookside, Derby 1808-1814, Corn Market from 1819, 36 Corn Market 1828-1848, 4a Amen Alley 1849, 36 Corn Market 1849-1869. Carver and gilder, also picture dealers and print sellers, from 1808 also silversmith and jeweller, from c.1812 also occasional print publishers.
Robert Moseley was active in Derby for more than 50 years, trading in partnership with George Tunnicliffe, c.1808-19, Walter James Moore, c.1826-27, and his nephew Henry Moseley, 1841-46, but otherwise independently. Robert Moseley is included here for his wide-ranging interests, his links to the London trade where 'Moselys corners' were used in frame making by one leading maker (see below) and for his appointment as a carver and gilder to the King in 1828, an unusual distinction for a maker outside the capital.
Robert Moseley: Robert Moseley (c.1781-1856) settled in Derby in about 1800. He and his wife Ellen had at least four children. He can be found in the 1841 census as a jeweller, age 60 (ages were rounded down to the nearest five in this census). He died in the Derby district in 1856.
There was a carver and gilder by the same name, Robert Moseley (d.1816), possibly his father, active in Leeds, at whose death his widow Elizabeth and son Thomas went into competition in Leeds, with the widow advertising that she had engaged the foreman employed for the last 12 years by Robert Moseley of Derby (Leeds Intelligencer 5 February 1816).
In 1801, Robert Moseley, carver and gilder, advertised that from the ‘liberal encouragement’ that he had already received, he intended to reside in Derby, and had removed from Mr Fletcher’s to the top of St Peter’s St, opposite Mr Rawlinson’s; he offered all kinds of new frames for paintings, engravings, needlework and fire screens, and also looking glasses, girandoles and brackets (Derby Mercury 6 August 1801).
In 1808 Moseley advertised from his repository on Brookside as a silversmith and jeweller, having succeeded to the business of Severne & Son, and announced that the business of Moseley & Tunnicliff, carvers and gilders, picture dealers and print sellers, at Derby and Nottingham, had removed from Cornmarket to the repository on Brookside (Derby Mercury 24 November 1808).
Moseley & Tunnicliff often advertised immediately before the Derby races in August; they continued to promote the silversmithing and jewellery side of their business, but also in 1812 drew attention to their assortment of goods recently obtained from London and Tunbridge (Derby Mercury 2 August 1810, 1 August 1811, 23 April 1812, 30 July 1812). They promoted their pearls and jewellery from several of the ‘first Wholesale Houses in London’, and advertised the display of a frame in their shop made for the Duke of Devonshire, as an example of their work as looking glass and picture frame manufacturors (Derby Mercury 11 August 1814). The work for the Duke of Devonshire was probably for the north wing at Chatsworth, where Moseley is known to have worked (see Stephen Glover and Thomas Noble, The history of the county of Derby, 1829, vol.2, p.235).
In 1816 W.W. Moseley, presumably a relative, advertised as a house, sign and furniture painter and grainer, stating that specimens could be seen at Moseley & Tunnicliffe’s premises (Derby Mercury 7 March 1816). This was William Weddell Moseley (1790-1854), born in Sheffield, the son of Robert and Ellen Moseley (IGI).
Robert Moseley’s partnership with George Tunnicliffe, trading as Moseley & Tunnicliffe, carvers and gilders, jewellers and silversmiths, was dissolved in 1819, with Moseley carrying on the business (London Gazette 25 May 1819). Moseley & Tunnicliffe's whole stock, not only of jewellery and silver work, but also engravings, paintings and furnishings, was advertised for sale the following year (Derby Mercury 2 February 1820).
Robert Moseley continued to advertise intermittently as a jeweller and silversmith, but also featuring the latest engravings and offering carving and gilding work in all its branches (Derby Mercury 19 June 1822, 16 July 1823, 28 September 1825 etc). However, in July 1826 he announced that he would be selling off his stock in jewellery and fancy trade, so that he could concentrate on carving and gilding, with his partner in the wholesale jewellery business, W.J. Moore, devoting his attention to this department (Derby Mercury 12 July 1826). His partnership with Walter James Moore as manufacturing jewellers was dissolved in 1827 (London Gazette 10 August 1827).
Robert Moseley was appointed as a carver and gilder to George IV in December 1827 (National Archives, LC 3/69). He advertised the following year as 'Carver and Gilder to his Majesty', stating that he was continuing his jewellery business and advertising his collection of pictures (Derby Mercury 16 July, 23 July 1828). He promoted newly published engravings in 1829 (Derby Mercury 29 July 1829) and in 1830 his plans to open a Gallery for the exhibition and sale of pictures, and his purchases at the sale of the late Sir Thomas Lawrence of rare engravings and other stock (Derby Mercury 21 July 1830). ‘Mr. Moseley's Picture Gallery' was described in glowing terms in the local newspaper as an exquisite little Gallery which was open freely to all (Derby Mercury 4 August 1830).
Moseley described himself on his trade label, c.1836-37, as ‘By appointment. Carver and Gilder to the King, Jeweller, Silversmith, Agent to the British Plate Glass Company, Picture Gallery & Fancy Repository’, offering copperplate engraving, printing and steel engraving, Geneva and English gold and silver watches, vases and obelisks, mourning rings and every article in the jewellery and fancy trade made on the shortest notice, also featuring his spar and marble museum. By 1836 Moseley was advertising his marble and spar goods and as an agent of the British Plate Glass Company (Derby Mercury 26 October 1836).
In Moseley’s advertising, ‘British Plate Glass Warehouse and Derbyshire Spar & Marble Museum’ had by 1838 taken the place of his previous claim as ‘Carver and Gilder to the King’ (his royal appointment was presumably not renewed under Queen Victoria (Derby Mercury 3 October 1838, see also 22 May 1839). Later in 1838 Moseley advertised paintings by Joseph Wright of Derby, Tintoretto and other artists (Derby Mercury 7 November 1838). In 1839 he was advertising as the only licensed manufacturer within 30 miles of Derby to use Clement’s patent ground for gilding cornices, frames and bordering for rooms, described it as more beautiful than the ordinary sort of gilding (Derby Mercury 11 December 1839).
In 1841 Robert Moseley advertised that he had taken his nephew, Henry, into partnership, to trade as Moseley and Nephew, carvers and gilders, jewellers and silversmiths (Derby Mercury 24 March 1841). In 1845 Moseley and Nephew, now also occupying premises at 1 Railway Terrace, opposite the station, announced that in view of an intended change in the firm they were selling off their stock of paintings and engravings (Derby Mercury 2 April 1845). In 1846, at the age of about 65, Robert Moseley announced his retirement from the business, leaving his nephew to carry on as Henry Moseley & Co (London Gazette 6 March 1846, Derby Mercury 11 March 1846), but as late as 1854 Robert Moseley was advertising that he would clean and restore pictures on his nephew, Henry Moseley's premises, referring to his more than 50 years in business (Derby Mercury 8 March 1854). He died in 1856.
Henry Moseley: Henry Moseley (c.1803-1869) was baptised in 1803 in Leeds, the son of George Moseley. From 1840, he begins to feature in advertisements as when he published a portrait engraving of the late C.R. Pemberton, lecturer on Shakespeare (Derby Mercury 18 March 1840). He can be found in census records, in 1841 as a carver and gilder in Corn Market, Derby, with his wife and five children and in 1851 as a carver, gilder and jeweller, employing four men and a boy, again with his wife and five children. He died in Derby at the age of 65 in 1869, leaving effects worth under £1500.
Henry Moseley and his partner (perhaps his brother-in-law), James Brabazon Murphy, trading as Henry Moseley & Co, carvers and gilders, jewellers and silversmiths, were made bankrupt in 1848 (London Gazette 19 September 1848). James Brabazon Murphy (1808-60) was the husband of Louisa Moseley, whom he had married in Derby in 1832.
Even as his bankrupt stock was being advertised for sale at 36 Cornhill in March 1849, Henry Moseley was already promoting his picture and glass frame manufactory at 4a Amen Alley, and the following month he moved back into a portion of his old premises at 36 Corn Market (Derby Mercury 14 March 1849, 2 April 1849). Henry Moseley carried on in business at a reduced level. After his death in 1869, his daughter advertised that she would be continuing the business (Derby Mercury 24 February 1869).
Work in picture framing and print publishing: Moseley had links with the London frame making and composition ornament trades. John Smith (qv) refers to using 'Moselys corners' in one of his frames, although without mention of Derby, and George Jackson (qv) supplied composition ornament to ‘Moseley’ at Derby in 1817.
At one time or another the Moseley business also stocked artists’ materials from London. Rudolph Ackermann junior advertised that his watercolours were available for sale, with other drawing materials, at Moseley & Tunnicliff’s (Derby Mercury 18 April 1816). Roberson, the artists’ suppliers, supplied stock to Robert Moseley, 1835-42, and to Henry Moseley, 1855-67 (Woodcock 1997).
The Moseley business also had links with the London printmaking trade and published or stocked engravings. Moseley & Tunnicliffe published engravings in 1812 and 1813, Robert Moseley published occasional engravings from 1819 to 1851, including an illustrated volume, Samuel Rayner’s The History and Antiquities of Haddon Hall (1836), while Moseley & Nephew published an engraving in 1842. Examples of some of these engravings can be found in the National Portrait Gallery and British Museum collections; most of them were advertised in the Derby Mercury on publication.
In 1832 Robert Moseley produced a 27 page catalogue from his Gallery of Fine Arts, entitled, Catalogue of Paintings, Prints, &c. &c.; Carving in Marble; Stone and Wood, and Gilding, in All Their Branches; Old Paintings Cleaned, Lined, Restored, and Varnished, offering books, a rich assortment of French clocks in carved alabaster, ormolu and Buhl, jewellery, silver and plated goods, and cutlery (copy in National Gallery of Art Library, Washington DC). In 1835 a printed catalogue was produced of paintings, engravings and furnishings belonging to Mr R Moseley of Derby, carver and gilder to the King and agent to the British Glass Company, to be sold by auction by Mr Carter at the Upper Assembly Rooms, Leamington, Warwickshire (copy in East Sussex Record Office, FRE/9708).
Moulding & Artists’ Materials Manufactory Co Ltd, see Alfred Jeffries
*Alfred J. Mucklow 1873-1888, A.J. Mucklow & Son 1889-1929, Mucklow’s Gallery 1930-1941. At 68 Princes St, London (‘Four doors from Coventry Street’) 1873-1878, 55 Whitcomb St 1879-1880, 35 Cranbourn St (‘Exactly opposite Leicester Square tube station') 1881-1941, 12 St Martin’s Court WC 1881-1923. Picture framemakers, carvers and gilders, fine art dealers.
Alfred John Mucklow (1833-1907) was born and lived in Lambeth. He was listed in the 1861 census as a glass silverer and in 1871 as a shopman at a picture framemakers. Subsequently, he set up business independently, advertising as having worked for 21 years with Page, Coventry St (The Artists’ Directory 1875, p.182), that is, Harcourt Master Page (1823-67), looking glass maker. Mucklow later described himself as having been Page’s manager for many years. In the 1881 census he was listed as a dealer in works of art, age 46, with a large family including two sons, Alfred, age 25, gilder (who died in 1884), and William, age 15, picture framemaker, and in 1891 as a picture dealer, with his son, William, also described as a picture dealer (and again so listed in 1901 and 1911). Alfred John Mucklow died in 1907, leaving effects worth £1234, with probate granted to William Mucklow, picture dealer, and William Moreton Phillips, gentleman.
On his trade card from 35 Cranbourn St, Mucklow described himself as ‘Picture Frame Maker & Dealer in Works of Art. Carver and Gilder’, offering prints, maps and drawings mounted; old prints cleaned; glass silvered by old & new process; oil paintings cleaned, lined & restored (Johnson coll. Trade Cards 24 (57). The business had an account with the artists' suppliers, Roberson, 1890-1, trading as A.J. Mucklow & Son (Woodcock 1997). The business's increasing focus on dealing in works of art is apparent from its adoption of the name, the Cranbourn Art Gallery, from 1909 or before.
A successor business in the 1930s, trading as Mucklow’s Gallery, with Frederick Charles Pierce and Walter Leslie Deighton as partners, went into receivership in 1941 (London Gazette 1 April 1941). In census records Frederick Charles Pierce (1872-1953?) was recorded in Hastings in 1901 as a ‘Frame Maker & Artist's Colourman (employer)’ and by 1911 in London, living at 4 Percy St, as 'Manager to Fine Art Dealer'. Frederick Charles Pierce was the son of Stephen Pierce (b.1843), a Hastings carver, gilder and framemaker and older half-brother of Stephen Rowland Pierce (1896-1966), a notable architect and town planner (information from Osmund Bullock).
Framing work: Alfred Mucklow worked for Lincoln's Inn, 1876-7, under the direction of the picture restorer, William Holder (for whom see British picture restorers). He made a new gilt frame for Hogarth’s large painting, Paul before Felix, based on the artist’s original sketch design, at a cost of £69.13s which included four other frames and work in hanging paintings (Lincoln’s Inn Archives, C2a241 part 2, p.74, Treasurers’ Accounts, information kindly supplied by Josephine Hutchings, archivist, and Frances Bellis, assistant librarian).
Sources: Information kindly supplied by Martin Thompson, son of an employee at the Cranbourn Art Gallery, July 2007. For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.
William Müller 1847-1863, William Müller & Co 1864-1877, Müller & Co 1878-1915. At 62 High Holborn, London WC 1847-1909, 315 High Holborn 1910-1915, branches at other addresses by 1883, also in Birmingham and Brighton. Artists’ colourmen, initially also oil and Italian warehouseman and later also picture framemakers.
Updated March 2016
Henry J. Murcott by 1864-1912, Harry Charles Murcott 1913-1924, Harry C. Murcott & Sons 1924-1941, Harry Charles Murcott 1942-1947. At 16 Hanover St, Long Acre, London 1864-1877, Hanover House, 6 Endell St, Long Acre 1878-1935, 28 Store St WC1 1936-1947, emergency wartime address 11 Mercers Road N19 1942-1944. Picture dealers, later frame manufacturers, picture restorers and repairers and mounters of drawings.
Henry John Murcott (1835-1910), the son of Charles Murcott, warehouseman, and his wife Ann, was born at Dukes Court, Chancery Lane in 1835. He worked initially for the publishers, printsellers and stationers, Fuller & Co, a business which closed in 1862 (see British artists' suppliers on this website), before setting up on his own as a picture dealer. As early as 1864, Murcott was recorded as selling the British Museum a drawing, View of the Grotto of Posilippo, now attributed to Louis Jean Desprez (see British Museum collection database).
In successive censuses, we find him in 1871 as a picture dealer, age 35, employing one man and a boy, in 1881 as a carver and gilder with four men and two boys, in 1891 with his son Harry C. Murcott, age 21, listed as an assistant, and in 1901 as a carver and gilder, age 65, with Harry as a picture framemaker, age 30. At his death, Henry John Murcott left effects worth £2220, with probate granted to his son, Harry Charles Murcott, art dealer.
Harry Charles Murcott (1870-1947) took over the business from his father and was listed as a picture framemaker in the 1911 census with his wife and three young sons. He died at 11 Mercers Road, Tufnell Park, in 1947 leaving effects worth £1646, with administration of his estate granted to his widow Agnes Alphonsine Murcott.
Framing and mounting work: Henry John Murcott advertised in 1875 as from the late firm, Fuller & Co; he offered ‘Plain and Ornamental Gold Frames of every design. Ebonized Antique, Carved Oak, Oxford and Fancy Wood Frames’ (The Artists’ Directory 1875, p.8). In The Year’s Art, in 1886 he advertised the business as the ‘United Artists Picture Frame Manufactory’, claiming to have been established 25 years, in 1892 offering ‘Designs of Special Character made to instructions and Drawings sent for approval’, in 1897 claiming to be ‘The Leading House for Specialities, New Designs, and Artistic Treatment in Mounting and Framing’, and in 1908 offering ‘Inlaid Tortoiseshell Frames, Old Dutch, Italian, or any design, Made on the Premises’.
Murcott appears to have done much routine framing, judging from surviving examples. But he also numbered some significant artists among his clients. He undertook work for Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1872-9, including mounting paper on strainers and setting pencil drawings (see Fredeman 72.165.1, 73.28.1, 73.32.1, 75.42.1, 75.187, 75.242.1, 76.3, 76.45, 79.34). He produced some frames for Edward Burne-Jones, who also requested a portfolio, like those made for Rossetti, to be ‘cheap, very cheap, but good: and at once’ (Getty Research Institute, four letters, see Sources below). Works with Murcott’s label include William Holman Hunt’s Harold Rathbone, 1893 (Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool) and Simeon Solomon’s drawing, David (Fitzwilliam Museum) (information from Lynn Roberts).
Murcott also made frames for James McNeill Whistler, 1878-9, as we learn from Whistler’s correspondence (online edition at Correspondence of James McNeill Whistler). Whistler ordered a frame in February 1878, to be ‘like the last two’, finished in pale green and gold, probably for Nocturne in Blue and Silver. In March 1879 Whistler contacted Murcott concerning his pictures for the Grosvenor Gallery: Harmony in Yellow and Gold: The Gold Girl: Connie Gilchrist (Metropolitan Museum of Art) was to be regilded and another picture reframed, probably Arrangement in Brown and Black: Portrait of Miss Rosa Corder (Frick coll., New York).
Murcott was recommended in successive numbers of Arthur Heygate Mackmurdo and Herbert Horne’s Century Guild Hobby Horse magazine in 1889 and 1890 for ‘picture frames designed by the Guild’ (as was Charles Rowley (qv) in Manchester for framing generally).
Murcott acted as a subcontractor for the artists’ suppliers, Charles Roberson & Co, 1882-99, undertaking relatively modest framing work but with the number of orders increasing over time, with orders often amounting to more than £50 p.a. in later years (Hamilton Kerr Institute, MS 183-1993, 204-1993, 232-1993).
Later, the Murcott business undertook work for Sir Winston Churchill (who sent payment of £341), Frances Legard, Lady Broughton, Lady Thompson and others, as is apparent from a series of letters to H.C. Murcott (Getty Research Institute). Bobby Bevan, son of the artist, Robert Bevan, paid Murcott & Sons for two ‘old gold City pattern’ frames, among other work, in January 1926 (invoice dated 16 January 1926, as ‘Established 1860’, exh. From Sickert to Gertler: Modern British Art from Boxted House, Brighton Museum, ex-cat.).
Harry C. Murcott & Sons’ trade card from the 1920s or 1930s describes the business as practical framemakers, carvers and gilders and as expert restorers of paintings, drawings and prints. Harry C. Murcott, or one of his sons, put together an album of framemakers’ labels, presumably removed from frames which the business had handled (Simon coll.).
Sources: For Edward Burne-Jones and other clients, see a series of 23 letters, 1880-1933, in the Getty Research Institute, unexamined, information kindly supplied by Lois White.
*Henry Mutton, 4 All Saints Passage, Cambridge by 1839-1869 or later. Printseller, picture framemaker, artists' colourman, etc.
Henry Mutton (c.1813-73) traded as a picture framemaker and printseller and in related trades. Three trade cards are known. In what is probably the earliest, he advertised as carver, gilder and printseller, offering engraving and copper plate printing (Johnson Collection 24(72)). In another, featuring an artist’s palette, he advertised as agent for T. Brown's patent collapsible metallic tubes (and so probably datable to 1841 or soon after), offering drawing materials at London prices and a service to mount drawings and clean paintings (coll. Christopher Lennox-Boyd). Perhaps the latest in date is his unusual card in Jacobean or Fontainebleau style, advertising as ‘Printseller/ Glass & Picture Frame Manufacturer’ (Banks coll. 100.73). As well as acting as an agent as an outlet for the colourman Thomas Brown (qv), Mutton had an account with Roberson, 1850-9 (Woodcock 1997).
Henry Mutton was listed as H. Mutton, All Saints Passage, in the 1839 and 1851 directories (Robson’s 1839 Commercial Directory of the …Norfolk circuit, Gardner’s 1851 Directory of Cambridgeshire). He was recorded in the 1841 census, in 1851 as a printseller, age 37, employing a carver and a joiner, in 1861 at 4 All Saints Passage as printseller, age 48, with wife Lydia, age 40, and a niece, and in 1871 in Jesus Lane in All Saints parish, as printseller and landowner, age 57. Henry Mutton, carver, gilder and printseller, died in 1873, age 60, leaving effects worth under £7,000, with probate granted to his widow Lydia.
Sources: DEFM; For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.