British artists' suppliers, 1650-1950 - K

A selective resource, 3rd edition October 2011 (*revised entry, **new entry). Updated selectively twice yearly, last updated January 2017. Contributions are welcome, to Jacob Simon at jsimon@npg.org.uk.

Resources and bibliography Introduction



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Updated March 2014
Robert Keating
(died 1758),The White Hart, Long Acre, London 1717-1758. Artists' colourman.

Robert Keating can be found in Long Acre in rate books, 1717-58. He took out insurance as a colourman on 15 July 1717 on his goods and merchandise in his dwelling house next to the White Hart in Long Acre, and again on 16 June 1743 to a total of £1000 on his household goods in his dwelling house and his utensils and stock at the White Hart in Long Acre. He was nominated by the printseller Michael Hennekin to be one of the two executors of his will, along with the cabinet maker John Bersellar, in December 1722. He married Dorothy Orde on 1 January 1734 and died in 1758. In his will, made 10 February 1746, with codicil 26 February 1746, and proved 14 September 1758, he made modest bequests, referring to his ‘very extravagant’ two eldest sons, Robert and James, and left half the residue of his estate to his wife Dorothy and the other half to be divided between his youngest son John and his daughter Katherine. Keating was succeeded in business by Nathan Drake (qv).

Artists’ materials: In 1730 Keating advertised his paints for the export market (London Evening Post 15 October 1730, see Iain Pears, The Discovery of Painting: the growth of interest in the arts in England, 1680-1768, 1988, p.251 n.36). The advertisement provides one of the first detailed descriptions of commercially available artists’ colours and is worth quoting at length:

‘To Limners, Fan-Painters, &c. Whereas it is well known that there has always been a great Deficiency in the World in Relation to several Colours, and more especially the Green, there are now, (after several Years Labour) discover’d the following curious ones, viz

1. A fine Green, not inferior to Ultramarine in its kind, for Body, Beauty and Duration, fit for Painting and Glazing, and therefore nam’d Green Ultramarine; This Green will likewise serve for Water, and for printing Metzo Tinto, or Cairo Oscuro Prints, is a good Dryer, and not dearer in Price than the best lake.

2. A good Purple without Mixture, for Water.

3. A light Sky (for Water), call’d Cyanus.

4. A Colour call’d English Yellow, useful both in Oyl and Water, surpassing the best Brown Pink.

All to be had at Mr. Keating’s Colour-Shop at the White Hart in Long-Acre. Where speedily will also be had,

5. Another curious Green for Water only.

6. A Colour to be used instead of Gall-Stone.

7. A fine Purple for Oil and Water both, as rich of its kind as Prussian Blue, lasting, and a good Dryer.

8. A Rich Orange Colour, call’d Aurora, for Water.

9. Another warm Colour for Water, of a Yellowish Hue, call’d Russer.

And as there is a greater Want of these Colours Abroad than at Home, Merchants and others may be supplied with any Quantities for Exportation.’

Keating is mentioned in R. Campbell’s The London Tradesman in 1747, ‘This Gentleman deals in all Colours for the House Painter, but his chief Business consists in furnishing the Liberal Painters with their fine Colours. A painter may go into his Shop and be furnished with every Article he uses, such as Pencils, Brushes, Cloths ready for drawing on, and all manner of Colours ready prepared, with which he cannot be supplyed either in such Quality or Quantity in any or all the shops in London. He is himself an excellent Judge of Colours, and has no mean Taste in Painting’.

’Mr Keating’ was dealing with Catherine Read in the supply of two canvases on straining frames for oil paintings in March 1755 (National Portrait Gallery, Robert Tull ledger, see Simon 1996 p.143). He also supplied colours, canvases and straining frames to Alexander Clerk, April 1755 (transcription on file at Scottish National Portrait Gallery; another account is receipted by John Keating).

Sources: London Metropolitan Archives, Sun Fire Office policy registers, 6/8719, 66/95200, information from Richard Stephens from Museum of London index, 2011; London Metropolitan Archives, AM/PW/1725/34, for Hennekin’s will, in 'The art world in Britain 1660 to 1735,' at http://artworld.york.ac.uk; accessed 14 December 2012; Whitley 1928, vol.1, p.332. For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.

Edward Kebby, 48 Taylor’s Buildings, Islington Road, London 1799, 61 Newgate St 1801-1803.Watercolour preparer.

Edward Kebby advertised that he had been apprenticed to Thomas Reeves, and had been his principal assistant (Morning Post and Gazeteer 25 July 1799; see also Whitley 1928, vol.2, p.362). In the same advertisement, he featured his superfine watercolours, made at his manufactory at 48 Taylor’s Buildings, claiming that the principal part of his life had been devoted to manufacturing watercolours. He was listed in Kent’s directory from 1801 until 1803 as a superfine watercolour preparer. In 1803, his partnership with William Hudson junr as watercolour makers and fancy drawers of Newgate St was dissolved, with William Hudson carrying on the business (London Gazette 15 February 1803). Edward Kebby was perhaps related to James George Kebby, umbrella manufacturer, who traded from premises in the Strand from 1789 until his death at the age of 56 in 1818 (The Times 11 February 1818).

In 1800, Edward Kebby’s superfine watercolours were advertised as the choicest in England, in boxes at 10s.6d, £1.1s and £5.5s, by Skill, purveyor general and oilman, 15-16 Strand (trade catalogue, Banks coll. 89.36*, with added date 1800, information from Jenny Bescoby, 1 August 2007).

*George James Keet, 88 Renshaw St, Liverpool 1848-1859, 90 Renshaw St 1850-1864, 92 Renshaw St 1856-1864, 85 Renshaw St 1858. Also at Bold St Arcade 1848, Roscoe Arcade 1848-1853, 1860. Stationer, engraver and artists’ colourman.

George James Keet (1820-68) was christened at St Nicholas Liverpool in 1825. In 1848 he advertised as a stationer, stocking Rowney’s drawing pencils, canvas, brushes, drawing paper and every requisite for painting, and giving his address as 88 Renshaw St and Bold St Arcade (Liverpool Mercury 7 July 1848). He later claimed that his business had been established in 1846 (Liverpool Mercury 19 August 1859). He had an account with Roberson, 1850-64 (Woodcock 1997). He advertised in partnership as Goodwin & Keet, photographic rooms, 1858-1860 (e.g., Liverpool Mercury 13 February 1860). In the 1861 census, Keet was listed as a stationer and colourman, age 40, together with his wife and five children. He was made bankrupt in 1865, when described as photographic artist, stationer, engraver and artists’ colourman, of 184 Vine St, and of 90 Renshaw St, Liverpool (London Gazette 17 January 1865). He was followed at 88 Renshaw St by Henry Jeffreys (qv) (information from Cathy Proudlove). George James Keet died, age 48, in the St Pancras, London district in 1868.

Keet’s labels have been recorded on works dating to 1850, 1857 and 1861, for example on Robert Tonge's Cheshire Landscape, millboard, 1850 (Sudley, Liverpool, see Bennett 1971). The watercolour artist, Alfred William Hunt, used four sketchbooks supplied by Keet in the late 1850s (Ashmolean Museum, see Newall 2004 pp.173-8). Henry Keet, perhaps related, was listed at 117 Great George St, Liverpool, as a stationer, bookseller, artists’ colourman and photographic artist in 1868.

Kemp & Co, 9 Holden Terrace, Pimlico, London SW 1877-1889,203 Victoria St SW (‘adjoining Victoria Station’) 1890-1937, 28 Buckingham Palace Road SW1 1937-1940. Kemp & Co (Victoria) Ltd, 28 Buckingham Palace Road 1941-1991 or later, no longer listed 1998. Artists' colourmen, carvers and gilders, fine art dealers, artists' brush manufacturers; by 1991 picture cleaners and restorers.

The business and its predecessors had accounts with Roberson, 1873-1908, firstly in the name of John Capes (qv), who occupied the premises from 1873 to 1876, then as Kemp & Co (Woodcock 1997). Kemp & Co advertised their celebrated sable and hog-hair brushes (The Year's Art 1901), later describing the business as having supplied leading members of the profession for 45 years (The Year's Art 1914), perhaps alluding to the establishment by 1871 of George Bowden (qv) at 9 Holden Terrace who preceded Kemp & Co and John Capes at this address. Several canvas marks have been recorded from the 1870s to the 1890s (information from Cathy Proudlove).

Edward Sherard Kennedy, Walton House, Walton St, Brompton, London SW. Genre painter.

Edward Sherard Kennedy (c.1837-1900) had accounts with Roberson from various addresses in London, Brighton and Kent, 1861-1900 (Woodcock 1997). He was listed at 24 Westbourne Terrace in the 1881 census as Artist Painter, age 44, born in Camberwell. His stencilled canvas mark appears in association with a mark of George Rowney on a painting of c.1888.

*Kennedy & Francis, 17 Oxford St, London 1886-1890. Artists’ colourmen.

The business had an account with Roberson, 1885-7 (Woodcock 1997). It advertised as ‘China Painters’ Depot and General Art Store’ (The Artist, vol.7, January 1886, p.32) and as 'The Only Complete Art Store' (The Year's Art 1887-8).Previously it had traded asKennedy & Brown, china dealers and artists’ colourmen, by 1881 until 1885, when the partnership between Edward Thomas Kennedy and Arthur Brown was dissolved (London Gazette 16 October 1885).

**Kensington Fine Art Society c.1893-1921, Kensington Fine Art Society Ltd 1921-1930. At 26 Alfred Place West (now Thurloe St), South Kensington, London, 1893-1930.

The Kensington Fine Art Society in Alfred Place West went through various transformations. Initially, it was closely associated with the artist, Goldsborough Anderson, of The Studios, Thurloe Square. Nominally acting on behalf of the Kensington Fine Art Society but apparently on his own behalf, Anderson sold his interest in the Society to the short-lived Artists’ Alliance Ltd, which was incorporated in December 1893 but which was wound up voluntarily in January 1895 (National Archives, BT 31/5743/40201). Anderson transferred to the Artists’ Alliance Ltd the goodwill and stock-in-trade of the Kensington Fine Art Society’s business as fine art publishers, printsellers, framemakers and dealers in artists’ necessaries, taking a majority holding in the new business, in which the artist Charles W. Mitchell was one of six other shareholders.

It is worth noting that the premises at 26 Alfred Place West had previously been occupied in 1892-3 by another short-lived business, the artists' colourmen and fine art publishers, John Kingham & Co (qv) and that the Anglo-American Art Color Co Ltd (qv) claimed to have a depot at these premises in 1893.

By 1896, Marcel Ruet was in occupation. He continued to use the Kensington Fine Art Society name. He sold ‘KFAS’ marked canvas on occasion and an example is Adrian Jones's Merry Gal, 1900 (Walker Art Gallery, see Morris 1996). The Kensington Fine Art Society’s premises were also used for showing works of art, apparently in the 1890s and certainly between 1918 and 1926 (Google Book Search for Kensington Fine Art Society).

Marcel Ruet, or to give him his full name Pierre Marie Marcel Ruet, traded as a dealer at Soho Square and in Victoria St in the first half of the 1890s, and thereafter from Alfred Place for about 25 years, returning to France in the mid-1920s. He was recorded in Alfred Place as fine art publisher in 1896, as artists’ colourman in 1905 and as a picture framemaker in 1914. In 1921 he sold the business for £2000 plus a shareholding in the newly formed company, Kensington Fine Art Society Ltd, a business which traded until wound up voluntarily in 1930 (National Archives, BT 31/26697/175832, BT 34/4682/175832). In the documentation for the new company, he was described as a fine art dealer, and the scope of the new business was widely drawn, including as colour printers, stationers, publishers, booksellers, printsellers and dealers in and manufacturers of picture frame, mounts and artists’ materials. The Medici Society Ltd and two of its directors were the largest shareholders after Ruet himself. After the Kensington Fine Art Society Ltd was wound up, the Medici Society Ltd took on the premises at 26 Alfred Place West (renamed Thurloe St in 1938), and still trades there.

For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.

**Wilfred C. Kimber 1922-1941, 1946-1966, W.C. Kimber (Successors) Ltd 1967-1969. At 105 Great Russell St, London WC1 1922, 36 Bedford Place, London WC1 1922-1924, The Etchers’ Stores, Tankerton Street Works, Cromer St,WC1 1924-1941, 1946-1950, 25 Field St, King’s Cross Road, WC1 1951-1962, 24 King’s Bench St, SE1 1963-1969. Etching materials supplier, from 1946 printing press maker.

Wilfred Charles Kimber (1879-1961), son of Richard Godsell Kimber, held some shares in his father’s business, Hughes & Kimber Ltd (qv), until the company’s demise in 1909. He married in 1905 in the Lambeth district and was listed in the 1911 census as an engineer manager, printing machinery and materials, age 32, living in West Norwood with his wife and two daughters. He died age 82 in the Lambeth district in 1961.

When Kimber set up independently following the First World War, he focussed on etching and plate printing materials, copper plate presses and general artists’ materials. In 1924 he advertised that he was moving to the Tankerton Street Works in June, so that 'his Engineering Works, Paper Warehouse, Etchers’ Stores, and Offices may be conveniently grouped together' (The Studio, vol.88, July 1924, p.vi). In his price list published in September that year, he offered copper plate presses, polished copper and zinc plates, papers of various sorts, and tools and materials for etching, aquatint, mezzotint, wood engraving, lithography, illuminating and writing, sketching, painting in watercolour and in oil colour, and the Bromoil transfer process (Price List of Etching and Plate Printing Materials Copper Plate Presses, &c, 1924, 48pp).

Kimber published several catalogues between 1924 and 1932. He supplied his catalogues to the Long Island artist, illustrator and etcher, William Steeple Davis, in 1928 and 1930.

It is worth noting that Kimber’s younger brother, John Arnold Kimber (1887-1967), set up Process Supplies Service at 19 Mount Pleasant to supply process chemicals, together with Leonard Attewell Spencer (b.1889), who was in partnership until 31 December 1933 (London Gazette 23 January 1934). Thereafter, John Arnold Kimber traded as Kimbers Process Supplies Service, and then as Kimbers Supplies Service from 44 Clerkenwell Green in the 1940s and as Kimbers Etching Supplies Ltd subsequently. The business advertised its materials for artist engravers, lithographers, commercial designers and fine artists (The Artist’s Guide, 1951, p.xv; The Artist, vol.42, January 1952, p.xiv). Kimbers Etching Supplies Ltd was struck off the companies’ register in 1971 (London Gazette 25 March 1971).

For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.

Kimber, Taylor & Co, Kimber & Co, see Hughes & Kimber

Kimbers Process Supplies Service, see Wilfred C. Kimber

*Frank William King, 18 Cleveland St, Fitzroy Square, London 1880-1889, 24 Great Titchfield St from 1890. Artists’ colourman; picture framemaker from 1892.

Frank William King (b.1853) was successor to Henry Lassalle at 18 Cleveland St. He was listed in censuses at this address in 1881 as a cabinetmaker, age 28, and in Islington in 1911, still as a cabinetmaker. King’s canvas mark has been recorded, 1887 (information from Cathy Proudlove).

*H.S. King, 57 High St, Hampstead, London by 1904-1957 and later. Artists’ colourman, subsequently a bookseller and a stationer.

Henry Seymour King (1868-1936?), son of Henry King, may have been successor to William and Henry King, oil and colourmen who, by 1880 and until 1903, were successively at nos 44-45, 56 and 55 High St, Hampstead. In censuses Henry S. King can be found at 3 Pond St in 1881 and at 19 Pond St in 1891 and again in 1901 when described as a stationer, age 33, together with his two sisters. He had an account with Roberson, 1901-5 (Woodcock 1997). His canvas stamp can be found on C. Polowetski’s Israel Zangwill, 1909 (National Portrait Gallery), reading: H.S. KING,/ 57, HIGH STREET,/ HAMPSTEAD, N.W. By 1928 the business was trading as a bookseller and as late as 1984 as a stationer. He is possibly to be identified with Henry S. King, who died, age 68, in 1936 in the Hendon district.

Miss King, brushmaker, see Derveaux

*John Kingham & Co, 26 Alfred Place West, South Kensington, London 1892-1893. Artists' colourmen, fine art publishers, picture framemakers.

John Hester Kingham (c.1850-1926) was born in Newnham, Hampshire. In census records, he can be found in 1881 as a schoolmaster in Nettleton, Lincolnshire, in 1891 as an agent living in Willesden and in 1901 as a dairy agent in Willesden. At the age of 62, described as a dairy agent, he married Maria Mueller in 1912 in Willesden, where he died in 1926.

Kingham’s foray into artists’ materials was short lived. ‘Kingham & Co’ advertised artists’ materials from South Kensington including lay figures and easels on hire, artists' oil and water colours made by Roberson, Winsor & Newton, Newman, Reeves and Rowney, and, as sole proprietors, ‘the artists' sketching vest and hold-all... for protection from cold without impeding the free action of the arm’ (The Year's Art 1893). In the same year the Anglo-American Art Colour Co Ltd (qv) advertised a depot at this address, which was also the home of the Kensington Fine Art Society (qv) and then the short lived Artists Alliance Ltd, listed as artists' colourman in 1895. John Kingham & Co had an account with Roberson, August 1892 to July 1893, but was marked 'bankrupt' in their ledgers in 1893 (Woodcock 1997). John Hester Kingham, trading as Kingham & Co, was made bankrupt in July 1893 (London Gazette 21 July 1893).

Found a mistake? Have some extra information? Please contact Jacob Simon at jsimon@npg.org.uk.

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