British picture restorers, 1630-1950 - C

A selective directory, to be revised and expanded regularly, 1st edition March 2009. Contributions and corrections are welcome, to Jacob Simon at jsimon@npg.org.uk.

Resources and bibliography



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John Caldwell, 28 Marylebone St, Piccadilly, London 1843-1850, 29 Marylebone St 1851-1859. Picture restorer.

John Caldwell is possibly the ‘J. Caldwell’ who cleaned and restored Lemuel Francis Abbott’s Lord Macartney with Sir George Staunton (National Portrait Gallery) for S.M. Caldwell for £16 in 1850, according to a receipt formerly on the back of the picture. He was not living at 28 or 29 Marylebone St at the time of the 1851 census. He may be identifiable with the artist listed at 78 St John’s Wood Terrace from 1855 to 1859.

Chambers, London to c.1725, New York c.1726-1734, London from 1734. Painter, copyist, picture restorer.

When Chambers visited Lord Percival in September 1735 to add inscriptions to Percival’s family portraits, he gave him an account of his life. A Scotsman, he painted at Edinburgh under Sir John Medina. To quote Percival, ‘Afterwards he went with his father in 1709 into Spain, and was four years there in the wars with his father, who was a Captain of horse, and had procured him an Ensign’s commission which he lost by being taken prisoner in the town of Brihegua with General Stanhope, afterwards Secretary of State. From thence returning he worked with Mr. [Edward] Gouge… Mr. Chambers leaving the service of Mr. Gouge, worked afterwards for Mr. Eykman [William Aikman] in Leicester Fields… Then he went for nine years to New York, and returned last September. His business is only copying and cleaning pictures, and sometimes lettering them at a penny a letter, which is the price I pay him.’ (Historical Manuscripts Commission, Manuscripts of the Earl of Egmont. Diary of the First Earl of Egmont (Viscount Percival), vol.2, 1923, p.192).

According to George Vertue, apparently writing in the early 1740s (Vertue vol.5, p.12), Chambers, presumably the same man, cleaned 500-600 pictures in Scotland at the Duke of Hamilton’s country house and at Holyrood House, Edinburgh, apparently including portraits by Van Dyck, paintings by Titian and Raphael, Rubens’s Daniel in the Lions’ Den (National Gallery of Art, Washington DC) and the Somerset House Conference (National Portrait Gallery, ex-Hamilton collection).

For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.

Chapman Brothers 1874-1916, Chapman Bros (Chelsea) Ltd 1917-1964. At 251 King's Road, Chelsea, London SW3 1874-1911, 241 King's Road 1908-1964, works 245a King's Road 1912-1964, warehouse 11 Church St, Chelsea 1913-1947. Carvers and gilders, picture framemakers, by 1915 also picture dealers and restorers.

See British picture framemakers on the National Portrait Gallery website.

Chauncey, active 1718-1724. Picture restorer.

Mr Chauncey restored 71 paintings for Hatfield House, 1718-24, including 25 portraits, at a cost of almost £167 (Auerbach 1971 p.263).

For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.

C.E. Clifford 1849-1886, artists’ colourman 1849-1876, photographic materials manufacturer 1857-1865, picture restorer from 1877; C.E. Clifford & Co from 1887, printsellers; C.E. Clifford & Co Ltd from 1912, fine art publishers, printsellers, framemakers, picture restorers. At 30 Piccadilly, London WC 1848-1887, 12 Piccadilly 1888-1891, 200 Piccadilly 1892-1894, 21 Haymarket 1895-1911, 12 Bury St, St James's from 1912, subsequently moving elsewhere.

Charles Edward Clifford succeeded E. Façon Watson (qv) as a picture restorer in 1877 (notice announcing succession, dated 19 February 1877, copy in National Portrait Gallery records, RP 740). See British artists’ suppliers on the National Portrait Gallery website.

Christopher Cock, Next the Vine Tavern, Broad St, St James’s, London 1722, upper end of Broad St, next Golden Square 1722-1724, Broad St 1725-1726, The Two Blue Spires, Broad St 1725, Poland St, corner of Broad St 1726-1731, Great Piazza, Covent Garden 1731-1748. Auctioneer and picture restorer.

Christopher Cock (d.1748) was the leading picture auctioneer of his generation, conducting many sales over a 30 year period from about 1717. It has been suggested that he may have been related to the painter, auctioneer and printseller, John Cock of Dean St, who died in 1714 (Bottoms 2002 p.431), but he is not mentioned in John Cock’s will. The name, ‘Cock’, is occasionally found as a buyer at picture sales, in 1711, 1722 and 1740 (‘Sale catalogues of the principal collections of pictures..., 1711-1759’, 2 ms vols, V&A National Art Library, 86.OO.18-19).

Christopher Cock was trading by 1717 when George Vertue noted the involvement of 'young Cock’ in the sale of Sir George Hungerford's pictures. In the Burney newspapers in the British Library his earliest advertisement as an auctioneer dates to 1722 (Evening Post 30 January 1722). Initially, he traded from the Broad St area in Soho, taking out insurance on his goods and merchandise in Broad St, and in the warehouse behind, to the value of £500 in 1725 (Guildhall Library: Records of Sun Fire Office, vol.20 no.36382), and opening a new auction room in Poland St in 1726 (see Whitley 1928, vol.1, frontispiece). In March 1732 he took a lease on a house in the Great Piazza in Covent Garden, erecting an auction room at the rear of the premises, which remained in use for more than 100 years. By 1747 he was trading in partnership with Abraham Langford, as Cock & Langford.

Christopher Cock died in 1748 and was buried at St Paul Covent Garden (William H. Hunt (ed.), The Registers of St Paul’s, Covent Garden, vol.4, 1908, p.438). In his will, made 1 October 1748 and proved 1 February 1749, Christopher Cock, auctioneer of St Paul Covent Garden, referred to Abraham Langford as his clerk or agent in his way of business, calling on him to take an inventory of his estate. To his wife, Ann, he left various personal items. Interestingly, his will reveals that part of his premises was leased to Allan Ramsay, the portrait painter, at a yearly rental of £63. He held three shares in a newspaper, the Daily Advertiser, half-profits in which he left on a conditional basis to Mrs Elizabeth James of the parish of St Martin-in-the-Fields. His collection, including pictures, was sold by Langford in May 1749 on his former premises in the Great Piazza (Daily Advertiser 17 May 1749).

According to a list of unfinished pictures compiled by William Hogarth on 1 January 1731, Cock commissioned a conversation piece of six figures from him, for which he had made half payment in November 1728 (British Library, Add.MS 27995). Cock and his wife are sometimes said to appear in one of these conversation pieces. The fullest account of this commission comes in the catalogue entry for Hogarth’s Conversation Piece with Sir Andrew Fountaine in the Philadelphia Museum (Richard Dorment, British Paintings in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1986, pp.163-71). A version of this painting belonged to Cock’s successor, Abraham Langford.

Restoration work: Cock was sometimes involved in the restoration of works of art. In 1719, John Hervey, 1st Earl of Bristol paid him 10 guineas in part of his bill for £25 for cleaning and mending the whole of Hervey’s collection of pictures (Hervey 1894 p.162).

In 1723, Cock was paid the substantial sum of £88 by the 2nd Duke of Montagu for ‘Repairing 2 Large Cartoons of Raphaels’, now attributed to G.F. Penni, The Vision of Ezekiel and The Meeting of the Two Holy Families (Boughton House, Northamptonshire). This work involved mounting and stretching the cartoons, enlarging The Vision of Ezekiel at the sides, and patching the Two Holy Families (Michael Jaffe, ‘The Paintings and Drawings’, in Tessa Murdoch (ed.), Boughton House: The English Versailles, 1992, p.83 and n.5, pl. 40, 44; kindly drawn to my attention by Tessa Murdoch).

In 1733, Christopher Cock was paid £60 by the Duke of Chandos in an out-of-court settlement following a lengthy dispute concerning his work on Chandos’s set of Raphael cartoons of the Creation, apparently undertaken in 1724 or 1725. Chandos is reported to have agreed that Cock should clean four of the cartoons at £40 each and work on the fifth without charge. In 1731 Cock demanded £101 'for new pasting' three of the cartoons but he was accused of daubing them with new colouring and cutting out the head of Eve from the Creation of Woman. Cock submitted that the cartoons had been so torn and battered that some repainting was inevitable. It emerged in evidence that Philiot, a picture restorer, possibly to be identified with Feilot, had been given the Eve cartoon by Cock to restore. Fuller details of this complex dispute are given in C.H. Collins Baker and Muriel I. Baker, The Life and Circumstances of James Brydges First Duke of Chandos, Oxford, 1949, pp.83-92.

Sources: F.H.W. Sheppard (ed.), Survey of London, vol.36, Covent Garden, 1970, pp.83, 87, also available online at www.british-history.ac.uk (referring to Cock’s lease, 11 March 1731/2, of nos 9-10 Great Piazza, Covent Garden); Brian Learmount, A History of the Auction, 1985, pp.22-8 (focusing on Cock’s property sales). For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.

Ralph Cockburn, 46 Portland St, London 1802, 56 Devonshire St 1807, 66 Warren St 1814, Dulwich College 1814-1820. Miniaturist and portrait painter, Keeper of Dulwich Gallery and picture restorer.

Ralph Cockburn (1779-1820) was christened at St Mary Marylebone. He entered the Royal Academy Schools at the age of 18 on 26 August 1797 (Hutchison 1962 p.157). He exhibited occasionally at the Royal Academy from 1802. He married Caroline Kirkley, daughter of Ralph Kirkley, Joshua Reynolds’s old servant, and by her had a daughter, also Caroline in 1804, who was not christened until after his death. He became the first Keeper of Dulwich Gallery (1814-20). In his will, made 10 March 1818 and proved 14 February 1821, Ralph Cockburn, Keeper of the Pictures at Dulwich College, made his daughter his main beneficiary.

Cockburn was in touch with Joseph Farington in January 1813 about obtaining a letter of recommendation to promote his position as a potential keeper of the Desenfans collection which had been bequeathed to Dulwich College. Together, they visited Mrs Desenfans in Charlotte St in June that year to view the collection. In July 1814, Cockburn told Farington that he had been appointed ‘to have care of the pictures’ and was to have rooms at the College; as Farington subsequently learnt, this was at a salary of 200 guineas a year. In September 1814, Joseph Farington saw several portraits belonging to Dulwich College that Cockburn had cleaned.

Sources: Farington vol.12 p.4279, vol.13 pp.4546, 4582, vol.14 p.5037; information kindly supplied by John Ingamells, 2005, relating to Dulwich College and its pictures.

For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.

The Collector's Picture Restoring Co. Ltd, see British artists’ suppliers on the National Portrait Gallery website.

Francis Collins, 11 New Cavendish St, Portland Place, London 1819-1828, 52 Great Marlborough St 1828-1832. Picture cleaner and dealer, print dealer and publisher, picture framemaker.

Francis James Collins (1790-1833), known as Frank Collins, was born in Great Titchfield St, the second son of William Collins (d.1812), a writer and picture dealer of Irish origin. He was the younger brother of William Collins RA, and Wilkie Collins's uncle. In 1820 he was described as a ‘Dealer in Ancient Prints’ in the Post Office London directory, while in Robson’s directory he was listed as a picture and print dealer in 1819 and as a picture cleaner in 1820 and 1826.

In 1821 John Constable wrote that Collins was ‘much engaged in cleaning pictures – which he does most skilfully’ (Beckett 1968 p.81). Constable recommended him for the post of Secretary to the British Institution, 1818, and as a picture cleaner, 1821, and again for cleaning pictures at Ham House, 1824. He was recommended for the post of keeper of the Dulwich Gallery, c.1821, by Sir Francis Chantrey who referred to his work two years previously cleaning a valuable collection of pictures, describing him as 'unpresuming, good-tempered, and sensible'. He cleaned pictures for Lady Dysart at Ham House in 1824 (see Beckett 1964 p.331, Beckett 1966 p.291).

For further details of Collins’s life and his activities as a picture framer, see British picture framemakers on the National Portrait Gallery website.

Sources: W. Wilkie Collins, Memoirs of the Life of William Collins, 1848, vol.1, pp.4, 7, 181-2, 329, vol.2, pp.29-37; Beckett 1964 pp.331, 393, Beckett 1966 pp.68, 291-2, Beckett 1968 p.81; Farington, vol.15, p.5135. For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.

Isaac Collivoe senr, Bow St, Covent Garden, London by 1701, ?Charles St, Covent Garden to 1726, painter and picture restorer. Isaac Collivoe junr, Maiden Lane, Covent Garden, London by 1749-1769, painter, picture dealer, picture cleaner and restorer.

Two generations of the Collivoe family were active in the London art world. The father, Isaac Collivoe (d.1726), was also recorded as Collivous, Collevous, Collevou, Collivau, Collivaux and even Calliveaux while the son, Isaac Collivoe junr (c.1702-1769), was sometimes described as Collevaux or Colliveau. He was one of the leading restorers of his generation, with a distinguished clientele.

Isaac Collivoe senr: Not much is known of the father. Isaac and Jane Collivoe, their name spelt as Collivau or Collivaux, had four children christened at St Paul Covent Garden, 1698-1704, including a son in 1702, Isaac (see below). Isaac Collivoe senr was a neighbour of Marcellus Laroon the elder in Bow St, Covent Garden, witnessing his will in 1701, and helping compile his probate inventory in March 1702 (information kindly supplied by Prof. Jeremy Boulton). While he may possibly have been the son of David Collivaux, who was in the Bow St area in 1671 and 1691 (information from rate books, supplied by Prof. Jeremy Boulton), there were other individuals of similar name who were christened at St Paul Covent Garden from 1669 or who were buried there from 1696, perhaps as early as 1684, with the name spelt Collauaux or Collivaux in the earliest records and subsequently in various forms including Colliveaulx Colliveaux and Collivau (William H. Hunt (ed.), The Registers of St Paul’s, Covent Garden, vol.1, 1906, vol.4, 1908).

One of Isaac Collivoe’s clients was the architect, Sir John Vanbrugh, who spent £26.15s from 1715 to 1722 on insuring, mending and framing pictures (Kerry Downes, Vanbrugh, 1977, pp.182, 191, 215). Collivoe appears to have been known to the engraver, George Vertue, who credits ‘Collevous’ with information concerning Lord Wharton's Van Dycks at Winchendon in about 1714 (Vertue vol.1 p.29). Collivoe was a customer of the colourman, John Calfe (see British artists’ suppliers on the National Portrait Gallery website), if he can be identified with the individual listed as ‘Calliveaux’, who features in Calfe’s postmortem inventory in 1720 as owing him £30.6s.

In his will, made 28 March and proved 20 April 1726, Isaac Collivoe, painter of St Paul Covent Garden, left half the residue of his estate to his wife Jane, and a quarter each to his son Isaac and daughter Jane, subject to their reaching the age of 31, appointing as executors his wife and his kinsman Thomas Rea. One or more sales of his collection of pictures were held, describing him as ‘Mr Isaac Collivous, painter’ (also advertised as Collevou), and giving his wife’s address as Charles St, Covent Garden (Daily Journal 19 January 1727, 25 March 1727). George Vertue records his picture sale in Covent Garden on 1 February 1727, describing in particular a portrait then thought to portray the Duke and Duchess of Suffolk (Vertue vol.2 p.23), but now known to represent Lady Dacre and her son, by Hans Eworth (National Portrait Gallery).

Isaac Collivoe senr’s daughter, Jane Collivoe, died in 1766, leaving a will, as spinster of St Mary Islington, appointing her brother Isaac as her executor, and making bequests to him, to her cousin John Rea and to Jacob Collivoe.

Isaac Collivoe junr: Collivoe senr’s son, Isaac Collivoe, was christened in June 1702 at St Paul Covent Garden and married Mary Calderwood in 1736 at Lincoln’s Inn Chapel. He was listed in the 1749 Westminster poll book as Isaac Collivoe, limner. He was a church warden in 1756, and is presumably the picture cleaner and mender, ‘Collibou’, listed in Maiden Lane in Mortimer's Universal Directory in 1763. He was a subscriber to Mary Jones’s Miscellanies in Prose and Verse‎ in 1760.

Collivoe died at his house in Maiden Lane in 1769, when he was described as ‘an eminent picture cleaner and dealer in pictures’ (Middlesex Journal 12 September 1769). In his will, made 17 November 1764 and proved 14 October 1769, Isaac Collivoe, limner, left a lifetime interest in various properties in Poland St, Cockspur St and Claremont Lane to his wife, Mary, and following her death variously to his cousin John Rea, to his cousin Jacob Collivoe and to Thomas Waterfield. His wife, Mary Collivoe, ‘otherwise Collive’, widow of St Paul Covent Garden, died four years later in 1773, leaving a lengthy will.

Collivoe’s collection of prints, drawings and books was advertised for sale in 1770 and his pictures and models the following year, mainly old masters but also work by Rysbrack, Richard Wilson and John Wootton (Gazeteer and New Daily Advertiser 17 November 1770, 5 May 1771). In the advertisement for his print sale, it was stated that, ‘As the late Mr. Collivoe was a great subscriber, as well as encourager of the artists, best part of the collection consists of the first proofs’.

His one time assistant, Thomas Spencer (qv) advertised in 1769 that for 29 years he had finished all of Mr Collivoe’s best pictures (Gazeteer and New Daily Advertiser 16 December 1769). Another picture restorer, William Comyns (qv), advertised in 1767 that he had been Collivoe’s late apprentice.

As a picture dealer or collector, Collivoe purchased pictures at auction at 15 or more sales between 1738 and 1759 (‘Sale catalogues of the principal collections of pictures..., 1711-1759’, 2 ms vols, V&A National Art Library, 86.OO.18-19; see also Pears 1988 pp.75, 244 n.100).

As a picture restorer, Collivoe had a wide-ranging clientele. He worked for the Royal Family, cleaning pictures for Frederick Prince of Wales and for George III (Millar 1991 p.22; see also below).

Collivoe was paid substantial sums between 1742 and 1763 for cleaning and mending pictures for John Russell, 3rd Duke of Bedford, as published by G. Scott Thomson. Collivoe seems to have worked on his own premises, rather than at Bedford House in London or Woburn, Bedfordshire. In 1742, his restoration work, mainly on the Duke’s recent purchases, totalled £40.3s. This included ‘cleaning two large landscapes by Poussin’ and ‘new stretching frames and stretching the same’, totalling 12 guineas, and ‘cleaning and mending, in very bad condition, a large landscape by Claud’ and ‘a new stretching frame and new stretching the same’, totalling 7 guineas, as well as repairing the frame to the Claude for £7. In 1748 Collivoe treated purchases made by the Duke at the sale of Mr Bragg’s pictures, including a ‘Rembrandt’, now ascribed to Govaert Flink, Joseph interpreting his Dream to Pharaoh’s Baker (Woburn Abbey). About the same time he restored Benedetto Castiglione’s The Departure of the Israelites out of Egypt, ‘taking off the painted spots and mending and cleaning’, and cleaned Murillo’s large Cherubs scattering flowers (Woburn Abbey), both for 8 guineas. In 1755 as many as 53 family portraits were sent to him for treatment. He was also responsible for painting two landscapes for chimney pieces, charging the considerable sum of £175.12s in August 1757 for this work and for cleaning and mending pictures (Einberg 2001 p.116, who makes reference to six substantial payments to Collivoe).

When approached in 1763 by the Duke of Bedford’s agent, Robert Butcher, to undertake further work, Collivoe replied that ‘my time… is greatly taken up with Cleaning the Kings pictures that I cant have time hardly for Either to brakefast or dine and after I finishd with the Kings must Emediatly Goe to Chiswick to doe lord Burlingtons pictures’.

He was paid £11.6s for cleaning and framing pictures for the Evelyn family, 1742 (Evelyn papers, Christchurch, Oxford, see George Beare, exh.cat., Chichester, 1989, p.5). It would appear that the Duke of Devonshire was sending pictures to ‘Collevaux’ in London in 1760, presumably for cleaning (Walpole’s Correspondence, vol.40, 1980, pp.181-2, letter dated 2 September 1760).

Much later, ‘Colliveau, a celebrated Picture-cleaner and mender’ was mocked by the painter Julius Caesar Ibbetson for his scouring of pictures and ridiculed for his supposed cleaning of a highly finished Dutch picture (Julius Caesar Ibbetson, An accidence, or gamut, of Painting in oil and water colours, etc, 1803, p.13).

Sources: G. Scott Thomson, ‘The Restoration of the Duke of Bedford’s Pictures’, Burlington Magazine, vol.92, 1950, pp.320-1. For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.

Timothy Collopy, 112 Grafton St, Dublin 1780, 4 Little Maddox St, Hanover Square, London by 1783-1788 or later, South Moulton St, London 1804. Portrait and religious painter, also picture restorer.

Timothy Collopy (d.1811) was born in Limerick. He studied in Rome, making friends with fellow Irish artist Henry Tresham, before returning to Ireland, exhibiting at the Society of Artists at Dublin in 1777 and 1780. He came to London in or before 1783 (Strickland 1913 pp.191-2). In his will, made 16 September 1804 and proved 5 August 1811, Timothy Collopy, portrait painter of South Moulton St, left his estate to his son, George Collopy of the city of Limerick, subject to certain specific bequests. In proving his unwitnessed will, it was stated that he had died on 4 May 1811, and Henry Campbell and Henry Tresham testified that the handwriting in the will was indeed Collopy’s. His paintings, drawings, prints and books were auctioned by Mr Christie, 20-21 December 1811.

Collopy worked as a picture restorer at Saltram House in October and November 1795, cleaning and varnishing numerous pictures throughout the house, according to his letter of 29 November that year to the 1st Earl of Morley in London (Sitwell 1998 pp.130-1). He referred to having completed the pictures on the staircase and those in the Saloon except for two by Angelica Kauffmann, which were problematic because of the small cracks to be filled. He also referred to 59 further pictures requiring cleaning and varnishing in three rooms. He was described by Lord Morley’s sister as ‘a little painter who is in the house cleaning pictures’. He was remembered at Saltram by a room called the Collopy Room.

Collopy also cleaned pictures in the collection of the Marquis of Bute in London (Strickland 1913, vol.1, p.192).

For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.

William Comyns, Cambridge St, near Broad St, Carnaby Market, London 1767, King St at corner of Crown St, Westminster 1777, 1786, Crown St 1799-1802, King St 1805-1808, 23 Crown St 1811. Picture cleaner, restorer and artist.

There appear to have been at least three generations of men by the name of William Comyns active as painters or restorers, although their relationship remains to be clarified.

The early generations: In 1673 William Comins (?1659-1714?), son of William, girdler, was apprenticed to Edward Mole of the Painters’ Company, and as William Comins or Commins he himself took apprentices, Robert Singer in 1687, John Holland in 1706 and Robert Chambers in 1709 (Webb 2003 pp.12, 33, 58). This individual is possibly to be identified with William Comyns, described as painter of St James Westminster, who is known through his will, made 11 May and proved 29 June 1714, in which he refers to his son William Comyns, among other relatives, kinsmen and friends, specifying that an inventory should be taken and an auction arranged for his pictures, prints, drawings etc. Sales were held in 1715 and 1717 of the pictures of the late William Comyns (Daily Courant 7 February 1715, London Gazette 29 January 1717).

The next piece of evidence is a reference to William Comyns, limner of St Margaret's Westminster, who is known to have held property in Cheltenham from a record of the Cheltenham Manor Court held on 27 April 1749; there is a further reference to a William Comyns at the Cheltenham Manor Court held on 22 October 1790 (information from James Hodsdon, 7 March 2008).

Comyns the picture restorer: It is not possible to make a clear connection from the members of the Comyns family above to the picture restorer, William Comyns (?c.1746-1815?), who advertised in 1767 as ‘late Apprentice to Mr. Collivoe, of Maiden Lane’, offering to clean, restore and repair pictures, and also to clean and restore painted halls, staircases and ceilings (Public Advertiser 5 March 1767). On the death in 1769 of Isaac Collivoe (qv), Comyns went into partnership with Collivoe’s long-term assistant, Thomas Spencer (qv) (Gazeteer and New Daily Advertiser 16 December 1769) and at Spencer’s death in 1776 or 1777 he acted as one of his executors (Daily Advertiser 25 January 1777).

William Comyns took out insurance with the Sun Fire office on his premises at the corner of Crown St in King St, Westminster, in 1777 as a painter and picture cleaner, referring to his apartments over the auction room of Mr Affleck, and in 1786 as a picture cleaner (Guildhall Library: Records of Sun Fire Office, vols 257 no.383120, 336 no.516709). Joseph Farington visited ‘Comyns, the Picture cleaner’ in 1794 to see four pictures by Vernet (Farington vol.1, p.167) and the following year reported that Angerstein had paid Comyns 15 guineas for cleaning a Cuyp landscape and 5 guineas for a half length Vernet, while Thomas Lawrence had paid him 5 guineas from cleaning ‘Vandergucht’s Rembrandt’ (Farington vol.2, p.373). Comyns was named by Charles Birch (qv), who advertised as a picture restorer in 1796, claiming to have been Comyns’ pupil for nine years.

In London directories Comyns was variously described as a limner in 1799, an artist in 1802, a miniature painter in 1808 and as a picture cleaner in 1811.

William Comyns was paid £9.18s.6d in 1801 for cleaning pictures for the Duke of Montrose (National Archives of Scotland, GD220/65/1, Montrose Muniments). 'Comyns’ charged Amabel Yorke, Baroness Lucas, later Countess de Grey £8.8s in September 1813 for 'Cleaning Ironing down stoping and mending' Eustache Le Seuer's Alexander and his doctor (National Gallery), among other pictures (Alain Mérot and Humphrey Wine, 'Alexander and his doctor: a rediscovered masterpiece by Eustache Le Sueur', Burlington Magazine, vol.142, 2000, p.294). He also sold her a portrait of a man said to be by Velázquez (Nigel Glendinning et al., ‘Lord Grantham and the taste for Velázquez’, Burlington Magazine, vol.141, 1999, p.605, n.59).

Comyns purchased Veronese’s Vision of St Helena (National Gallery) at a London auction sale in 1803 and it was seen in his possession the following year by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who wrote about it to Robert Southey, urging him to see it at ‘Commyn’s the picture cleaner in Pall Mall (Penny 2008 p.390); the picture was included in Comyns’s picture sale at Christie’s, 6 May 1815 (Burton Fredericksen (ed.), The Index of Paintings sold in the British Isles during the 19th century: 1811-1815, vol.3, part 1, 1993, p.85).

Henry Cooke, Long Acre, London 1695, Bloomsbury Square 1700. History and decorative painter, also portrait painter.

Henry Cooke (c.1642-1700) is best known as a history and decorative painter. His career has been traced in detail by Edward Croft-Murray (see Sources below). Cooke lived and worked in Italy, apparently for two periods of seven years each (Vertue vol.1, p.42), perhaps in the 1660s and 1670s. He undertook decorative painting at the Royal Hospital, Chelsea, c.1690, and elsewhere (Croft-Murray 1962 pp.245-6; see also Vertue vol.1, pp.40, 45). He died in London on 18 November 1700, age nearly 58, and was buried in St Giles Church, according to Bainbrigg Buckeridge (Buckeridge 1706 pp.408-9). In his will, made 30 October and proved 2 December 1700, Henry Cooke, gentlemen of St Giles-in-the-Fields, made bequests to his daughter, Elizabeth and son, Henry, appointing as executors his son and his friends, John Closterman the artist and Mr Seamer, goldsmith of Fleet St. His collection of prints and drawings was offered for sale by auction at his late dwelling house in Bloomsbury in January 1701 and his pictures the following month (London Gazette 6 January 1701, 20 February 1701).

As a restorer, William III employed him, together with Parry Walton (qv), to repair the Raphael cartoons, then at Hampton Court, and to restore other pictures in the Royal Collection, according to George Vertue, writing in or after 1721 from information supplied him by Mr Sykes (Vertue vol.1, p.94, vol.3, p.43); the King was said to be so well pleased that he gave Cooke the place of repairer of pictures, although Walton enjoyed the salary for this position. Cooke’s work on the cartoons may have taken place in or before 1693 when Walton was paid for repairs, or may not have taken place until 1698, shortly before they were publicly displayed.

Sources: Edward Croft-Murray and Paul Hulton, Catalogue of British Drawings, XVI & XVII Centuries, British Museum, 1960, pp.289-90, Croft-Murray 1962 p.245. For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.

Arthur Crossland, 19 Lexham Mews, Earls Court Road, London W8 1935-1939, 59 South Edwardes Square 1936-1937. Supplier of flexible gesso canvas, picture restorer.

Arthur Crossland was listed as a picture restorer in the 1935 and 1936 telephone directories. See British artists’ suppliers on the National Portrait Gallery website, under The Collector's Picture Restoring Co. Ltd.

Noticed a mistake? Have some extra information? Who should be added to this directory? Please contact Jacob Simon at jsimon@npg.org.uk.

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