British picture restorers, 1630-1950 - R

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

Resources and bibliography

[RI] [RO] [RU]

John Reeve 1868-1899, John & Harry Reeve 1900-1919, Reeve & Davis 1920-1928, Edward Davis 1929-1930, Mrs Edward Davis 1931-1933. At 77 Cleveland St, Fitzroy Square, London 1868-1933. Carpenter until 1869, picture liner from 1870, subsequently picture restorers. Harry Reeve 1920-1937, Harry Reeve & Son 1946-1967, 101 Jermyn St 1920-1937, 178 New Bond St 1946-1967. Picture restorers.

The Reeve family business has traded over four generations. It claimed to have been established in 1850, presumably when the founder Jonathan Reeve began working.

Jonathan Reeve: Jonathan Reeve (c.1831-1896), or John Reeve as he was generally known by 1868, was the son of John Reeve (1803-82), a soldier from Norfolk. From 1851 until 1869, Reeve was usually described as a carpenter or joiner, and it was as a carpenter that he was first listed in London directories in 1868. On his marriage certificate in 1854, and in London directories from 1870 he was described as a picture liner and from 1877 as a picture restorer. At some point between 1859 and 1877 he was employed by Henry Merritt (qv) to polish pictures at the National Portrait Gallery (see below). By 1868 when listed in the London directory, he had set up in business independently.

In 1854, Jonathan Reeve married Ellen McClellan Avery in the St George Southwark registration district; on the marriage certificate, they were both given as living at White St, City of London (information from Anthony Reeve). In censuses he was listed as Jonathan until 1861 and as John from 1871: in 1851 as ‘Jonathan Reeves', age 20, living at his father's house at 11 Granby St, Waterloo Road as a carpenter (information from Anthony Reeve), in 1861 at 67 John St, St Pancras as a joiner, age 29, born St Clement Dane, with wife Ellen and two young children, in 1871 at 77 Cleveland St as a picture liner, age 39, with wife Ellen and three daughters, in 1881 as a picture liner, born City of London, employing three men, with wife Ellen, four daughters and two sons, John G., age 8, and Henry M., age 6, and in 1891 as a fine art restorer, with two daughters and two sons, John G., age 19, and Harry M., age 17. Jonathan Reeve died at 77 Cleveland St in 1896 at the age of 65 (recorded as John in the death registrations for the Marylebone district).

John Reeve worked for the National Portrait Gallery, 1878-85. He approached the Gallery on 25 July 1877, following the death of Henry Merritt (qv), stating that he had polished pictures at the Gallery during Merritt's lifetime, and offering his services at the same rate (National Portrait Gallery records, Duplicates of Estimates, p.18). His work for the Gallery, included lining Benjamin Robert Haydon's large Anti-Slavery Society Convention for £20 in 1880 and transferring from panel, lining and putting in order Mary, Queen of Scots, after Nicholas Hilliard for £4.10s in 1881 (National Portrait Gallery records, Duplicates of Accounts, vols 1 and 2). In a letter dated 28 March 1878, Reeve explained, 'I must decline to do work at the Gallery such as Lining & Joiners Panel Work as my Business at home would be at a standstill by the removal of my plant' (Duplicates of Estimates, p.18).

Reeve worked on a picture, Venus and Mars, for the National Gallery in 1878, possibly the panel by Sandro Botticelli purchased in 1874 (National Gallery Archive, NG6/5/488, see also NG13/1/5 for a payment of £5 in 1879 for lining a picture). He treated some paintings for Dulwich Picture Gallery, including surface cleaning Francis Bourgeois's Seashore in 1874 and restoring a work by Saftleven in 1879. His successors continued to undertake work for Dulwich (see below).

In 1882 and 1883 Reeve lined Holman Hunt's The Triumph of the Innocents (Walker Gallery, Liverpool, see Bronkhurst, vol.1, p.239 and Bennett 1988 p.90). Reeve and the next generation of the family, see below, undertook work on several works by Hunt and evidently had a connection with the artist.

The second generation: Jonathan Reeve died in 1886 but the business was not listed as a partnership between his sons until 1900. John George McC Reeve (1872-1928) traded with his brother, Harry Morgan McC Reeve (1875-1961) as John & Harry Reeve at 77 Cleveland St. John Reeve married Ellen Wood in 1897 in the Marylebone registration district. In censuses, in 1901 John George Reeve was living on the business's premises, 77 Cleveland St, a fine art restorer, age 28, with wife Ellen and son, John Francis, age 1, and in 1911 in South Tottenham, a picture restorer and employer, with wife and two sons, John Francis, age 11, and Eric Stanley, age 3. His brother Harry was living in 1901 at 29 Chalcot Crescent, Regent's Park, a picture restorer, age 26, recorded as working at home, with his wife Susan, age 24. His address was recorded as 30 Chalcot Crescent on the birth certificate of one of his children. In the 1911 census, Harry Reeve was listed at 77 Callcott Road, Kilburn, as a picture restorer, with wife Susan and sons Harry, age 7, and Reginald, age 3. He died in Norfolk in 1961 (London Gazette 7 July 1961).

J & H. Reeve used two different styles for their stretcher labels (information from Anthony Reeve), firstly in traditional format, ‘J. & H. Reeve, Picture liners, cleaners & restorers, 77, Cleveland St, Fitzroy Square, London, W. Gold frames regilt and made to order', secondly with text in capitals largely contained within an artist's palette, reading, ‘Pictures carefully lined & skilfully cleaned & restored by J & H. Reeve, 77 Cleveland Street, Fitzroy Square, London W. Estd. 1850. Estimates free', and around the palette, ‘Collections kept in order by yearly attention' (example found on Thomas Phillips's David Ricardo, on loan to National Portrait Gallery). Their label, dating to 1902, can be found on the structure of Robert Peake's Henry, Prince of Wales on Horseback (Mrs P.A. Tritton, see The Hamilton Kerr Institute Bulletin, no.1, 1988, p.22, n.11).

In 1906 ‘Mr Reeve' lined Hunt's The Miracle of Sacred Fire in the Church of the Sepulchre (Fogg Art Museum, Harvard, see Bronkhurst, vol.1, p.275), with label in Holman Hunt's secretary's hand, ‘The picture was relined by Mr Reeve May 1906 Varnished with amber varnish diluted with rectified Turpentine. Henceforth (not less than 30 years) let another coat of the same be used if necessary. The picture should always be under glass & pasted in behind by direction of W. Holman Hunt'.

Hunt's The Light of the World (St Paul's Cathedral) was repaired by Harry Reeve following a hammer attack by a soldier during the First World War (press cutting, unidentified newspaper, information from Anthony Reeve), continuing the family's connection with Hunt, which went back to the early 1880s (see above). In January 1924, Edith Holman Hunt, the artist's widow, wrote to the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, asking that paintings be framed ‘by no one other than Mr. Reeve, in whom [Hunt] had total confidence' (quoted by Melissa Katz, letter to Anthony Reeve, 20 April 1994).

The partnership between John and Harry Reeve broke up by 1919. The older brother, John George Reeve, went on to trade with Edward Davis as Reeve & Davis, picture restorers, at 77 Cleveland St from 1920 until he died in 1928. The business was continued by Davis until 1930 and by his wife until 1933. John George Reeve's son, John Francis Reeve (1899-1970?), apparently also traded as a picture restorer (information from Anthony Reeve, quoting his father, Reginald McClellan Reeve).

The younger brother, Harry Reeve, may initially have worked from home before setting up studio at 101 Jermyn St in 1920, where he was joined by his son, Reginald McClellan Reeve, in 1924 (information from Anthony Reeve). He held an appointment as picture restorer to the Royal Institution of Great Britain in 1921.

In a two-page business card (information from Anthony Reeve), H. Reeve & Son, ‘Picture Restorers To the Royal Institution of Great Britain', advertised from their studio at 101 Jermyn St (and therefore dating to c.1924-37), giving the restoration of old Dutch, Italian, English and Primitive schools as a speciality, offering estimates for restoring old and modern works and also pastels, watercolours, engravings and miniatures, among other services. In addition, the business listed a wide range of clients. Among the titled classes, the Duke of Rutland, the Earl of Kintore, Viscountess Harcourt, Lords Allendale, Ashton of Hyde, Bathurst, Boyne, Braybrook, Cheylesmore, Fitzwilliam, Harewood, Henley, Melchett, Methuen, Wemyss and Woolavington, Lady Strathcona, Sir Andrew Agnew Bt, Sir Frederick H. Bathurst, Sir Hildred Carlile, Sir Milne Cheetham, Sir John Cotterell Bt, Sir Trevor Dawson Bt, Sir J.H. Du Boulay, Sir Dyce Duckworth Bt, Sir Chas Hamilton Bt, Sir John Kennaway Bt, Sir James S. Lockhart, Sir Gerald St John Mildmay, Sir John Prestige and Sir George Sitwell. In the church, the Bishop of Liverpool and Dean Inge. In the Armed Forces, Rear-Admiral Astley Rushton, Vice-Admiral L.G. Preston, Brig.-Gen G Paynter, Brig.-Gen R.T. Pelley and Capt. E.W.S. Foljambe. In the London art world, the Royal Academy of Arts, Sir Arthur Cope RA, W.W. Ouless RA, Dulwich Gallery, the Mond Collection (National Gallery), the Royal College of Arts and Dr Borenius.

The Reeve business undertook work for Dulwich Picture Gallery, lining Francis Bourgeois's Seashore in 1922, cleaning and varnishing Joshua Reynolds's Mother and Sick Child and John Wood's Thomas Stothard in 1923, lining, cleaning and repairing Zuccarelli's Landscape with a waterfall in 1923 and relining and filling holes in Charles I after van Dyck in 1931 (information from John Ingamells). For the Mond collection, in 1910 the business lined Garofalo's A Pagan Sacrifice (National Gallery), which is inscribed on the stretcher (information from Anthony Reeve). The business lined Delaroche's Napoleon Crossing the Alps (Walker Art Gallery, information from Anthony Reeve).

The third generation: Reginald McClellan Reeve (1908-1993) assisted his father, Harry Reeve until work became short in about 1937. He then obtained employment as a salesman before serving in the army during the Second World War. In 1946 he started up his own business, as H. Reeve & Son, in a second-floor studio of three rooms at 178 New Bond St, above Savory's the tobacconists (information from Anthony Reeve). Full-length portraits had to go up and in through the window from Bond St. The business continued at this address until 1973 (information from Anthony Reeve).

Country house collections and owners for which Reeve worked included Hatfield House, Ripley Castle, Skelton Castle, the Marquis of Douro (now Duke of Wellington) and the 7th Duke of Portland. Other clients included the Clothworkers Company, the Royal Academy, the Coldstream Guards, the Devonshire Club, the Fishmongers Company, the Garrick Club, Sotheby's, Sir Alfred Munnings, John Murray the publishers and Messrs Fores Ltd the dealers.

The fourth generation: The focus of the present directory is on the period before 1950 but the following brief details are included. Reginald Reeve's son, Anthony McClellan Reeve (b.1946), started in 1963 as an apprentice restorer at the National Gallery in London and worked there as a conservator until he retired in 2006, carrying out cleaning, restoring, lining, panel work and gilding and, from 1977, having charge of the structural conservation of the collection.

From 1969 he also worked evenings and weekends for his father, trading as H. Reeve & Son, until 1973 when his father retired. He has continued the business as A.M. Reeve/ H. Reeve & Son. Among institutional clients, he has worked for the National Trust, Blenheim Palace and Shugborough Hall, and in London for Dulwich Picture Gallery, the Guildhall Art Galley, the National Portrait Gallery, the Royal Academy, the Royal Academy of Music, the Royal College of Music and the Victoria and Albert Museum, as well as undertaking work for other clients and restorers.

Sources: Anthony Reeve kindly supplied detailed information, January 2009, concerning his family and its business as picture liners and restorers, including identifying John Reeve as having been born as Jonathan, information on various members of the family from birth and marriage certificates, information about Reginald McClellan Reeve, information about his own practice and other information as acknowledged. For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.

Sir Joshua Reynolds, St Martin's Lane (later no.104, opposite May's Building), London 1753, Great Newport St (later no.5) 1753-1760, Leicester Fields, also known as Leicester Square 1760-1792. Artist and occasional picture restorer.

One of the leading portrait painters of his time and the founding President of the Royal Academy, Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792) had a fascination with artists' materials and experimental techniques. He boasted of his knowledge to the Duke of Rutland in 1786, referring to ‘all my experience in picture cleaning', and provided advice, recommending the Duke to use Biondi (qv) to clean Poussin's Seven Sacraments (on loan to National Gallery). He occasionally restored pictures himself. Reynolds's approach to restoration has been explored by Kirby Talley, to whom this account is indebted. His activities can be divided in to work on his own paintings and on those by Old Masters.

It was widely known that the colours of Reynolds's own portraits faded, as articulated by Horace Walpole as early as 1775. It also became known that his experimental methods meant that occasionally the paint deteriorated or even fell off his canvases. William Doughty, Reynolds's pupil from 1775-8, restored a portrait of Lord Holderness, painted in 1755 which was badly faded and the forehead particularly cracked (Mannings 2000 p.158). Reynolds himself in 1785 offered to renovate with ‘lasting Colors' his portrait of Sir William Hamilton, completed as recently as 1772 (Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio, see Talley 1986 p.68), and he also promised the Duke of Rutland to deal with the flaking to his Nativity. After Reynolds's death, his pupil Joseph Marchi (qv) restored various of his pictures as did a former assistant, John Rising (qv).

As to restoration work on paintings by other artists, there are charges in his account books indicating that from time to time Reynolds or his assistants cleaned pictures for clients, including for Lord Errol at a cost of £5.5s in 1763 (Mannings 2000 p.249, Ingamells 2000 no.82) and Lord Pembroke (Talley 1986 p.68). James Northcote, well-placed to observe Reynolds's procedures, reports the extensive additions that Reynolds made to two paintings described as by Velasquez, retouching the face of Philip IV when a Boy and the sky of Moor Blowing on a Pipe.

Sources: M. Kirby Talley, ‘ "All good pictures crack": Sir Joshua Reynolds's practice and studio', in Nicholas Penny (ed.), Reynolds,, Royal Academy, 1986, pp.55-70.

Stephen Richards, 27 Great Pulteney St, London 1885-1887, 4 Berners St 1886-1896, 16 Fitzroy St, Fitzroy Square 1897-1900. Picture liner, restorer and cleaner.

Stephen Richards (1844-1900?) is best known for his work as a restorer for James McNeill Whistler. He was born at Thrapston in Northamptonshire, and named Stephen like his father. He was recorded in his father's house in the 1871 census as a carver and gilder, like his father. In the 1881 census, Stephen Richards was lodging in Stroud Green Road, Hornsey, described as a widowed picture restorer, age 36, and in 1891 he was living at 141 Ruckledge Crescent, Willesden, as an artist in picture restoration, with his second wife Emma. He is probably the individual who died in 1900, age 56, in the Pancras registration district. He was followed at his premises at 16 Fitzroy St by Evans & Mucklow, picture restorers.

There was a picture restorer, John Richards at 85 Drummond St, Euston Square from 1871 to 1896 or later, but their relationship, if any, remains to be established.

Stephen Richards was Whistler's preferred restorer in the 1890s, so much so that in 1892 Whistler wrote to a dealer, ‘Take the pictures to Mr. Richards - you know where his place is - He is the only man fit to clean my paintings - and you can tell him so from me', adding directions, ‘Mr. Richards place is in Berners Street - a few doors from Oxford St - on the right hand side - Next door the Electric lighting Company, or something - and upstairs on first floor'.

Richards's name featured frequently in Whistler's correspondence from 1891 to 1897. In preparation for his exhibitions in 1892, Whistler brought Richards considerable business by directing that various of his pictures in private collections should be cleaned by him. An exhibition reviewer singled out Richards's contribution to the appearance of the pictures (The Times 19 March 1892). However, one collector wrote to Whistler for reassurance concerning Nocturne: Blue and Silver - Battersea Reach (Freer Gallery of Art, Washington): ‘Richards the picture-cleaner wants to remove the varnish from my Nocturne & repair the cracks in the paint. Before he does this, I thought it very desirable that you should see it - If in the operation (as seems to me not unlikely) some little repainting should be necessary, it should, I am sure you will agree, be done only under your instructions, if indeed it cannot have the advantage of your own touch'.

Whistler watched Richards closely, writing in 1895 concerning a ‘little head', ‘Now you know that I have full confidence in you - only I should like to be by and keep your clever fingers from picking at the paint! Mind now I am only paying you a compliment - and can rely upon you to beautifully varnish this head of mine that I am very fond of'. In 1896, he wrote concerning Nocturne: Black and Gold - The Fire Wheel (Tate), ‘I have been with Richards - and the old varnish, in its perished state, was removed under my supervision - and today the new coat of varnish was put on'.

But by 1900, Whistler's enthusiasms had moved on, as he makes clear in a letter to his fellow artist, John Lavery, about varnishing a picture, ‘I dont want Richards whom I have before now employed'.

Sources: Joyce Hill Stoner, 'Whistler's Views on the Restoration and Display of his Paintings', Studies in Conservation, vol.42, 1997, pp.109-10; The Correspondence of James McNeill Whistler, Centre for Whistler Studies, online edition, at , see Correspondence associated with Stephen Richards).

John Rising, 21 Princes St, Cavendish Square, London 1784, Park St, Grosvenor Square 1785, 16 Great Maddox St, Hanover Square 1786-1787, 5 Stafford St, Old Bond St 1788, 97 Jermyn St 1789, 9 Berners St 1790-1791, 35 Leicester Square 1791-1793, 85 Great Portland Place 1794-1814, Portland Place 1817. Portrait and subject painter, picture restorer.

John Rising (1753-1817) entered the Royal Academy Schools in December 1778, when his age was given as '25 last June' (Hutchison 1962 p.144). He was a portrait painter in his own right but he also made copies after Joshua Reynolds's work and acted as a picture restorer.

In 1808 Rising cleaned Joshua Reynolds's Earl Camden, according to Ozias Humphry in a letter to James White (Royal Academy of Arts Archive, HU/7/29i). In 1812, the Royal Academy entrusted him with the cleaning and restoration of four works by Reynolds and one by Gainsborough in the council rooms at Somerset House for £153.12s (Whitley 1928(1) p.204). Rising also worked at Belvoir Castle following a fire in 1816. At Knole, he cleaned the painted copies of the Raphael cartoons in the Cartoon Gallery (John Bridgman, An Historical and Topographical Sketch of Knole, 1817, p.56, where he was described as ‘a modest, amiable unassuming man', accessed through Google Book Search). The painter William Mulready testified as to Rising's skills as a restorer (Whitley 1928(1) p.265).

Rising died in 1817 at Portland Place. He was survived by his wife, Mary, who was sole beneficiary in his will, made 25 August 1806 and proved 5 March 1817. In an obituary notice, it was said that he had ‘for many years devoted his study to the restoration of valuable pictures, particularly those of our late eminent Sir Joshua Reynolds' (Gentleman's Magazine, vol.87, 1817, p.282). His collection of pictures, prints etc was auctioned by Christie's in 1818 and Phillips in 1826, including portraits by Reynolds and works by Gilbert Stuart, Benjamin West and various old masters.

Many years later, the restorer Thomas Boden Brown (qv) claimed to have worked for Rising for twelve months when he first came to London.

Sources: Tina Fiske, 'John Rising', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, vol.47, 2004, pp.6-7.

Charles Roberson 1819-1828, Roberson & Miller 1828-1839, Charles Roberson 1840, Charles Roberson & Co 1840-1907, C. Roberson & Co Ltd 1907-1987. London. Artists' colourmen and picture restorers.

Roberson's became known for picture restoration, being listed as picture liners from 1853, and later advertising testimonials from artists such as William Holman Hunt, 1897, George Clausen, 1899, and T.S. Cooper, as publicised in their catalogues (e.g. Artists Colours Materials, c.1931-2, p.iv). For fuller details of this business, see British artists’ suppliers on the National Portrait Gallery website.

John Roberts, see Henry Turner Broome

Roe, see Joseph Wright of Derby

George Roller, Tadley, Basingstoke by 1890-1941, also 2 Onslow Place, SW 1911-1914, Park Cottage, Pelham St, London SW7 1920-1936 or later. Portrait painter, picture restorer, advertisement designer and magazine illustrator.

George Roller worked for many years for John Singer Sargent, his exact contemporary. He has been described as ‘Sargent's friend, model and restorer' (Richard Ormond and Elaine Kilmurray, John Singer Sargent: Portraits of the 1890s, 2002, no.311).

Major George Conrad Roller (1856-1941) was born in Clapham, the eldest son of Frederick Roller, a German-born general merchant, naturalised British, and his Welsh wife, Eva Eyton. George Roller led a very varied career. As a horserider, he hunted in the 1880s and 1890s. As an artist and illustrator, he occasionally exhibited at the Royal Academy, 1890-1904, and also designed sporting advertisements for Burberrys for many years as well as illustrations for magazines. As a soldier he served in both the Boer War and World War I. He also served as a London magistrate and a hospital governor. In 1887 Roller married Mary Margaret Halliday, and they had a son, George Trevor, and a daughter, Miriam. Following his wife's death in 1908, he married Emily Kirk Craig in 1910. In the 1911 census, he was described as a painter artist working on his own account at home, 2 Onslow Place. He died age 84 at Tadley, Basingstoke, in 1941. His obituary marked his achievements both as a soldier and as a picture restorer (The Times 9 January 1941).

George Roller posed for John Singer Sargent in 1891, and apparently knew him still earlier in Paris, where they both studied art. He was identified by Sargent as the appropriate person to varnish his Earl Curzon in 1914 (Royal Geographical Society). Roller repaired Sargent's Henry James (National Portrait Gallery), slashed by a suffragette at the Royal Academy in 1914 (G. Trevor Roller, 'A Few Reminiscences of a Picture Restorer', Chambers Journal, February 1935, pp.107-9, describing this repair as one of his father's greatest successes). He was asked by Sargent in 1925, shortly before his death, to reline his George Macmillan (Society of Dilettanti).

Following Sargent's death, Roller prepared the artist's work for the Royal Academy memorial exhibition in 1926; his studio was ‘full up with his paintings', he told the director of the National Portrait Gallery in 1925 (National Portrait Gallery records, RP 1767). At this time he also framed and restored Sargent's Portrait of a Child for Violet Garrard. He is also said to have prepared Sargent's work for a posthumous sale at auction.

In June 1925 Roller made a presentation to the Royal Academy's Committee on Preservation of Pictures on how he cleaned pictures and the principles on which he based his work (Brooks 1999 pp.174, n.15, 224, n.104, quoting the Royal Academy Archive, 506A).

George Roller's brother, John Harold Roller (b.1859), known as Harold Roller, also knew Sargent and seems to have photographed some of his work. He married Nettie Huxley (1863-1940), daughter of Henrietta Anne and Thomas Henry Huxley, in 1889. They were recorded in Weybridge in the 1901 census but she apparently spent most of her time travelling in Europe with her daughter, supporting herself as a singer.

Sources: ‘Major George Conrad Roller', Who's Who in Art, 2nd ed., 1929; Richard Ormond and Elaine Kilmurray, John Singer Sargent: The Later Portraits, 2003, nos 569, 610, 612 (for his work on Sargent paintings, described above); 'Major George Roller - a Tadley hero', Tadley and District History Society project news, no.8, June 2005, pp.1-3, kindly communicated by Michael Roller.

Spiridione Roma, 15 Titchfield St, London 1774, 20 Goodge St 1775, 38 Goodge St 1777, 11 Queen Anne St East 1778, Golden Square before 1786, 58 Charlotte St, Portland Place to 1786. Decorative and portrait painter, picture restorer.

Spiridione or Spiridone Roma (d.1786) spent his later years in England, working as a decorative and portrait painter, and also as a picture restorer. He was born in Corfu and came to England soon after 1770, according to anecdotes in the Gentleman's Magazine in 1789, the most significant early account of his life. He was a member of the Greek Church. He exhibited at the Royal Academy, 1774-8. His wife Margaret died at their house in Queen Anne St East in 1778 (Gazeteer and New Daily Advertiser 19 January 1778), leaving him with two daughters and a son.

Roma died of apoplexy in 1786, on 15 June, rather than in 1787 as sometimes stated, as is evident from a probate inventory of the estate of ‘Spiridion Roma', widower of St Marylebone, deceased, submitted to the court in August 1786 (National Archives, PROB 31/755/698). A notice concerning demands on his estate appeared in the press in March 1787, when he was described as late of Charlotte St, Marylebone (The World and Fashionable Advertiser 13 March 1787). At his death he is said to have had the appearance of a man of 50 years, which might suggest that he was born in the 1730s.

As a painter of interiors, Roma undertook work at The Vyne, Hampshire, in the 1770s, ornamenting the upper walls of the chapel with a perspective of fan vaulting and Gothic tracery painted on canvas at a cost of £363.13s. He also painted a ceiling, The East Offering its Riches to Britannia, for the East India Company's Office in Leadenhall St in 1778 (Croft-Murray 1970 p.270).

Restoration work: As a restorer, he worked extensively for city companies including the Drapers, the Goldsmiths and the Fishmongers.

For the Drapers' Company, perhaps in 1776, he cleaned various paintings including portraits of ‘Mary Queen of Scots', whole lengths of William III, George I, George II when Prince of Wales, Sir John Sheldon and Kneller's Sir Robert Clayton and a half length of Henry FitzAlwin (Gentleman's Magazine). He also painted portraits of John Smith, the Company's clerk, for which he was paid £31.10s in 1777, and Thomas Bagshaw, the upper beadle (B.W., ‘Pictures at Draper's Hall', Gentleman's Magazine, vol.48, 1778, p.585). It is said that he added a window and a castle to the so-called Mary Queen of Scots. Roma advertised that, following his work at the Drapers', he proposed to publish a print of the portrait of Mary Queen of Scots, which would be engraved by Bartolozzi, also stating that he had ‘discovered a Method of cleaning and restoring to their original Perfection any Painting no otherways damaged than by Time', claiming that he had been ‘successfully employed on Paintings belonging to several public Societies' (Public Advertiser 1 January 1777).

Following his work for the Drapers, Roma was employed by the Goldsmiths. This led on to a major task in 1779-80, the repair of eight portraits of Kings and Queens and 19 full-lengths of the Fire Judges in the Guildhall, at an estimated cost of £109.6s (Vivien Knight, The Works of Art of the Corporation of London, Cambridge, 1986, p.5, n.14). For the royal portraits, he estimated £5 each, but claimed additionally for restoring that of George I which was in ruinous condition having been reduced to ‘many scores of pieces' subsequent to his having provided an estimate. For the Fire Judges he estimated £3.3s each for ‘cleaning, repairing and perfectly restoring' the portraits, ‘and finishing them as new', but he also claimed for lining them. As a result, he was involved in a long dispute with the Corporation respecting payment, publishing a pamphlet in 1780, The Case of Mr. S. Roma Respecting the Business Done by Him for the Corporation of London in Cleaning and Restoring Their Pictures &c. and the Money Due to Him for the Same (example in Guildhall Library).

He put forward a scheme to repair the paintings in the dome of St Paul's. He also worked for the Fishmongers whose paintings he put in order not long before his death.

According to the Gentleman's Magazine in 1789, Roma was also employed late in life by Lord Egremont and members of the nobility, collectors and amateurs of painting. His probate inventory (see above) lists debts totalling £132 due to him from 20 customers, listed as follows: Sir Elijah Impey at £23.5s, Mrs Musters 2s.6d, Sir Thomas Dundas £14.14s, Mr Hickey of St Albans St £18.18s, Mr Hickey junr, Jermyn St £8.8s, Lady Burgoigne 15s.6d, Mr Kenrick £1.1s, Mr Jenning £16.16s, Mr Sheppard £29.8s, Mrs Harcourt £4.19s.6d, Mr Price, Kings Mews £4.4s, Mr Ellicott, Bedford Row £1.1s, Colonel Goldsworthy £3.3s, Dr Lockman 5s, Mr Brody £1.11s.6d, Lord Malton 5s and Lord Frederick Campbell £3.3s.

Roma advertised in 1786, ‘S. Roma presents his most respectful compliments to the Nobility, Gentry & others who honoured him in Golden Square & as many eminent artists expressed a great desire to see the very capital & large picture by Claude de Lorraine, when cleaned, he thinks it proper to inform them that it is to be delivered to its owner on the first day of March next, & that in the meantime it may be seen in its present revived state every day from this time, Sundays excepted, from the hours of 12 to 3 on each day, at No 58 Charlotte Street, Portland Place, where he hopes also to exhibit other proofs of his ability as a Cleaner & Preserver of pictures & print.' (‘Press Cuttings from English Newspapers', vol.1, p.286, dated 9 February 1786, V&A National Art Library, PP.17.G).

Sources: 'Anecdotes of Spiridione Roma', Gentleman's Magazine, vol.59, August 1789, pp.701-3; Croft-Murray 1970 p.270; Cathal Moore and Christine Sitwell, ‘Spiridione Roma at The Vyne', Apollo, vol.147, April 1998, pp.25-9. For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.

John Rorke by 1839-1886, John Rorke & Sons 1885-1914, John Rorke & Co 1915-1927 John Rorke & Co Ltd from 1928. In Lambeth, London 1839-1886, Westminster 1871-1895, Fulham Road SW3 from 1892. Wood letter manufacturer for shop fronts from 1850, carver and gilder from 1862 and from 1910, picture dealer from 1880, gilders and decorators from 1886, picture restorers from 1889. This business was carried on over several generations but it was only in the 1890s that it undertook picture restoration. Its stencil as picture restorers reads, ‘ESTABLISHED 60 YEARS / JOHN RORKE & SONS / PICTURE RESTORERS / 17a GT GEORGE STREET / WESTMINSTER / OPPOSITE WESTMINSTER ABBEY' (example found on stretcher of Thomas Hudson, Sir Edmund Isham, 6th Bart, Magdalen College, Oxford, exh. Thomas Hudson 1701-1779, Iveagh Bequest, Kenwood, 1979, no.9). The business was at 17a Great George St, Westminster from 1887 until 1895. For fuller details of this business, see ‘British picture framemakers' (forthcoming edition) on the National Portrait Gallery website.

Robert Rose, 19 Old Brompton Road, South Kensington, London SW7 1946-1953. Picture cleaner and restorer, picture framemaker.

Robert Rose used his trade label to advertise, ‘ROBERT ROSE/ Picture Cleaner & Restorer/ Every Description Of/ Framing, Carving & Gilding/ 19 OLD BROMPTON ROAD/ South Kensington Station, S.W.7/ KEN. 6466' (example on red paper on stretcher of Sir William Beechey's John Carr, National Portrait Gallery). He was perhaps related to Augustus George Rose who traded as a picture liner, restorer and cleaner from 23 Pelham St, 1915-38 or longer.

The Royal Collection

Not included here since institutional histories are outside the scope of this directory, but see Oliver Millar, ‘Caring for The Queen's Pictures: Surveyors Past and Present', in Christopher Lloyd, The Queen's Pictures: Royal Collectors through the Centuries, 1991, pp.14-27; Ian McClure, ‘History of Structural Conservation of Panel Paintings in Great Britain', in Kathleen Dardes & Andrea Rothe (eds.), The Structural Conservation of Panel Paintings, The Getty Conservation Institute, 1998; Christopher Lloyd, 'Care and Conservation of the Collection', in Jane Roberts (ed.), Royal Treasures: A Golden Jubilee Celebration, 2002, pp.45-61; Oliver Millar and Alan Donnithorne, ‘The Royal Mount: 250 years of mounting practice in the British Royal Collection', in Judith Rayner et al., Art on Paper: Mounting and Housing, 2005, pp.3-12.

The following artists and restorers in this directory undertook restoration work for the Royal Collection or members of the Royal Family: John de Critz and his son, Thomas 1630s, Jerome Lanier 1630s, Symon Stone 1666-72, Henry Peart from 1672, Parry Walton from 1679, Henry Cooke, 1690s, Peter Walton from 1701, Chambers 1730s? at Holyrood, Joseph Goupy for Frederick, Prince of Wales, 1735-53, John Anderson for Frederick Prince of Wales, 1747-9, John Griffier for Frederick Prince of Wales, Isaac Collivoe for Frederick Prince of Wales and George III, Stephen Slaughter 1748-65, George Simpson 1793-1816, William Seguier 1818-32, John Bentley 1855, John Peel 1856, Raffaelle Pinti 1861-7, George Morrill 1862-5, Seguier & Smart 1862-79 (royal warrant to 1915), Henry Merritt 1864, F. Haines & Sons from 1882, Stanley Kennedy North 1930-4, Horace Buttery 1934, 1946-55, William Drown 1950, William Freeman & Son 1950-75. This is a provisional listing, which it is hoped to extend in the next edition of this directory.

Helmut Ruhemann, Berlin to 1933, 2 Golden Square, London W1 1934-1939, 3 Golden Square 1939, The Dower House, Avening Court, Gloucestershire 1940, 37 Queen's Grove, London NW8 1946-1964, 63 Blenheim Terrace NW8 1967-1969. Picture restorer.

Helmut Moritz Ruhemann (1891-1973) was one of the leading picture restorers of his generation. Born in Berlin, he studied painting at Karlsruhe, Munich and Paris, and during World War One at the Prado, Madrid. He practised as a freelance picture restorer from 1921, including for the Berlin art dealer, Paul Cassirer, before becoming chief restorer in 1929 at the Kaiser Friedrich Museum, Berlin. There he promoted the use of x-rays as an analytical tool and favoured the complete removal of old varnish in cleaning pictures, in contrast to the more conservative approach of some of his contemporaries. He left this position following political changes in Germany in 1933 and later that year came to England where he already had clients among leading London art dealers, Duveen, Agnew's, Colnaghi's and Sabin's. He and his son Rainer Hans Ruhemann were naturalised in 1940 (London Gazette 14 June 1940). Towards the end of his career, Ruhemann published his most substantial work, The Cleaning of Paintings, 1968. He was made a CBE in 1968 (London Gazette 20 December 1968).

Ruhemann restored paintings for the National Gallery from 1934. He worked on paintings evacuated to Wales from the National Gallery and Tate Gallery in 1939. He was appointed restorer at Glasgow Art Gallery, 1942-4. He lectured at the Courtauld Institute of Art from 1934 and was lecturer in charge of the Technology Department at the Courtauld, 1946-51. He was appointed consultant restorer at the National Gallery in 1946 and Chief Restorer until 1972.

Ruhemann established a considerable reputation. He was one of two immigrant restorers identified by the Earl of Crawford, a trustee of various museums, in a letter of 1944 to James Mann, Keeper of the Wallace Collection, concerning the insistence of the newly founded Association of British Picture Restorers that members be British-born subjects, ‘I object on principle to this dead set against foreigners, particularly when the foreigners include such men as Yssep and Ruheman, who in their way are I suppose streets ahead of any English restorer' (National Archives, AR1/244). Subsequently, the National Gallery's director, Philip Hendy, described him as 'a new kind of restorer, for he had no secrets and he had instead a longing to share his knowledge' (Ruhemann 1968 p.22).

Helmut Ruhemann's cleaning methods, which favoured complete varnish removal, were criticised by another immigrant picture restorer, Johannes Hell (qv), and led to public controversy in 1946 about pictures in the National Gallery collection during which the artist, Sir Gerald Kelly, a trustee of Dulwich Picture Gallery, attacked the National Gallery's approach to cleaning pictures. Philip Hendy expressed his opinion to his Board of Trustees in November 1946 that the controversy was ‘largely the result of Hell's antagonism to Mr Ruhemann (Runeberg 2005 p.355).

At the National Gallery, among works treated by Ruhemann were Titian's The Tribute Money in 1937 (Penny 2008 p.260), Tintoretto's St George and the Dragon in 1963 (National Gallery Technical Bulletin, vol.3, 1979, p.3) and Jacopo Bassano's The Good Samaritan in 1968 (Penny 2008 p.16). He also was asked to line Van Gogh's Sunflowers (National Gallery) for the Tate Gallery during the war (Ruhemann 1968 p.46).

At the Wallace Collection, Ruhemann cleaned the fresco fragment, Luini's Head of a Girl in 1937 (Ingamells 1985 p.305). For Samuel Courtauld, he cleaned Renoir's La Loge (Courtauld Institute) in 1939, referring to the help he had received from National Gallery staff and Sir Kenneth Clark and the need to record darkened retouchings by UV photography before removing them and retouching in non-darkening paint (British Library, Add.MS 52434 f.17). For Glasgow Art Gallery, he cleaned Titian's Christ and the Adulteress in 1952-3 (H. Ruhemann, ‘The cleaning and restoration of the Glasgow Giorgione', Burlington Magazine, vol.97, 1955, pp.278-82).

Ruhemann also worked on country house collections in Scotland, Ireland and England, including at Kinnaird Castle, Clandeboye, Holkham Hall and Lowther Castle (Ruhemann 1968 p.46).

Helmut Ruhemann's archive has recently been acquired by the Hamilton Kerr Institute. There are also private papers in the National Gallery Archive (NG29/1-55). Both archives are worthy of further study.

Sources: Helmut Ruhemann, The Cleaning of Paintings, 1968, especially his 'Autobiographical and Historical Notes', pp.31-58; obituary by Martin Davies, The Times 10 May 1973; obituary by Norman Spencer Brommelle, Studies in Conservation, vol.18, no.2, May 1973, news supplement, pp.7-8; Harold J. Plenderleith, 'A History of Conservation', Studies in Conservation, vol.43, 1998, p.135 n.48; Runeberg 2005 pp.342-5, 353-6, 363-4. For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.

John Lewis Rutley 1811-1843 (with Thomas Rutley 1828), picture dealer, Mrs Mary Rutley 1843-1847, picture dealer, carver and gilder, Thomas Robert Rutley 1848-1876, picture dealer, John Lewis Rutley 1877-1914, picture dealer and picture restorer, by 1879 also picture galleries, known as the Reynolds' Galleries 1882-1908. At Covent Garden Market, London 1811, 65 St Martins Lane 1816-1822, 5 Great Newport St 1820-1914.

The business was started by the first John Lewis Rutley (d.1839), possibly the son of Lewis Rotely, who married in 1782. John Lewis Rutley is documented as a salesman and fruiterer in Covent Garden market in 1811 (Holden's directory), moving into picture dealing the same year when recorded buying actively at picture sales (Getty provenance index). As John Rutley, picture dealer, he took out insurance from 65 St Martins Lane in 1816 (Guildhall Library: Records of Sun Fire Office, vol.471 no.919674). It was not until about 1820 that he moved into the premises at 5 Great Newport St, where Sir Joshua Reynolds (qv) once lived. In 1828 the business was listed as Thomas and J.L. Rutley, but it is not clear whether this Thomas was his brother or a son. In Robson's directory, the business was given in 1831 as ‘Gallery & private rooms for the sale of pictures & works of art on commission'. In the Post Office directory, the business was listed as John & Louis Rutley from 1839 to 1841, possibly in error for John Lewis Rutley.

John Lewis Rutley had seven children between 1803 and 1814, the first four and the last christened at St Martin-in-the-Fields, the other two, born in 1808 and 1812, christened at St Paul Covent Garden. In his will, as Picture Dealer of Great Newport St and of Greenwich, made 18 October 1836 and proved 16 April 1839, he named as beneficiaries his wife Mary, daughters Elizabeth Rutley and Ann Rutley Dixon, wife of James Dixon, and sons Thomas Robert, Robert and James. There was a fire on the adjoining premises in January 1840 (The Examiner 12 January 1840, Morning Chronicle 15 January 1840). It was Mary Rutley (c.1772-1858) who carried on the business, described in 1839 as carver and gilder and proprietor of Gallery for the sale of pictures, until her son, Thomas Robert, took over in 1848.

Thomas Robert Rutley (1806-1885) was born in 1806 and was christened the following year at St Martin-in-the-Fields. He married Sophia Gale in 1835 at St Nicholas, Brighton. For their son, John Lewis Rutley junr, see below. Thomas Robert Rutley, picture dealer, and his family were recorded at 5 Great Newport St in the 1851 and 1871 censuses (he has not been traced in other censuses). He was made bankrupt in 1861, when it was reported that his debts would be paid in full (Morning Chronicle 26 April 1861). He held an account from 5 Great Newport St with the artists' suppliers, Roberson, in 1866 (Woodcock 1997). He was a partner in a business manufacturing mineral teeth and dentists' materials (London Gazette 6 March 1857, 27 February 1874). He retired by 1876 when the business was carried on by his son, John Lewis Rutley. He died at the age of 78 in 1885 in the Westminster registration district.

John Lewis Rutley junr (1836-1921) was born in 1836 and christened at St Paul Covent Garden. He married in the Wandsworth registration district in 1868. He was recorded in the 1871 census, living with his father, as a picture restorer, age 34, and in 1911 as a picture restorer, by now age 74, still living at 5 Great Newport St, with nine employees. He ran the business from 1877 until his retirement in 1914. He then sold his collection of pictures at Christies, and left 5 Great Newport St, as reported in The Times, which described him as ‘one of the most respected, as he is certainly one of the oldest, picture dealers in London' (The Times 17 April 1914). By 1915 he was living at 80 Belsize Park Gardens. He died at the age of 86 on 17 October 1921 (The Times 12 December 1921).

Restoration work: It was John Lewis Rutley junr who seems to have been the member of the family who regularly undertook picture restoration. Messrs Rutley, Picture Dealers & Restorers, worked for the National Portrait Gallery from 1866 until 1871, including cleaning, lining and varnishing Allan Ramsay's George III for £6 in 1866 (National Portrait Gallery records, Duplicates of Accounts, vol.1, pp.52, 74) and lining and restoring William Beechey's Sir Francis Bougeois, 1867 (Walker 1985 p.60). When estimating for work on Henry Raeburn's John Home in 1871, Rutley quoted £3 for relining, ‘slightly in excess of our usual charge for a ¾ portrait of the paint at the back of the canvas must be removed before relining (see also Ingamells 2004 p.260)., As the Reynolds' Galleries, Rutley sold a portrait, Anne Boleyn to the National Portrait Gallery in 1882.

Rutley undertook cleaning work for Sir John Soane's Museum in 1875, including three works by Canaletto, Riva degli Schiavoni looking West, A View in Venice with the Rialto and A View in Venice: The Piazza di San Marco, Hogarth's Election series, John Jackson's Sir John Soane in Masonic costume and his unfinished Mrs Soane, George Jones's The Royal Procession at the Opening of London Bridge, Thomas Lawrence's Sir John Soane, William Owen's Sir John Soane and his John and George Soane at the ages of 19 and 16, as well as relining Luigi Mayer's View of an Ancient Temple of Agrigentum in 1876 (all Sir John Soane's Museum, information from Hilary Floe and Helen Dorey).

His manuscript label, as the Reynolds' Galleries, can be found on the stretchers of some of the pictures he treated. There are examples dating to 1905 in the Suffolk Collection on Abraham Bloemaert's The Prodigal Son, and on two portraits, James II as Duke of York from the Peter Lely studio and Henry Bowes Howard, 11th Earl of Suffolk attributed to Jonathan Richardson (English Heritage, see The Suffolk Collection. Catalogue of Paintings, 1974, nos 28, 38, 47).

Another member of the family, Harold L. Rutley was active as a picture restorer at 128 Haverstock Hill in 1918, claiming that the business had been established over 150 years.

For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.

Noticed a mistake? Have some extra information? Who should be added to this directory? Please contact Jacob Simon at

[RE] [RI] [RO]