British artists' suppliers, 1650-1950 - N
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 email@example.com.
*Nathaniel Lionel Nathan 1881, Nathaniel Lionel Nathan & Co 1882-1883, Lionel Nathan & Co 1884-1900, Lionel Nathan & Co Ltd 1901-1904. At 5a Diana Place, Euston Road, London 1881-1887, 6 Diana Place 1888-1904. Artists' canvas manufacturers and colourmen.
Lionel Nathan & Co advertised in The Year's Art as'English and French Artists' Canvas Manufacturers and Colourmen, trademark Kangaroo’, listing prepared canvases by size and price, mill boards and academy boards (1884, and subsequently), advertising oil colours in collapsible tubes (1888-98), ‘Aprés Vous’ artists’ canvas boards (1897-8), 'Nathan’s Artist Canvas Hand Made on Hand Made Linen’, offering a sample book (1901). Their factory was located in Diana Place, off Euston Road, close to that of Rowney.
Lionel Nathan & Co Ltd was set up as a limited company in 1897 to carry on the business of a tobacco and cigar merchant, according to the business’s articles of association (National Archives, BT 31/7669/54747). It was said that Lionel Nathan had carried on such a business at 6 Diana Place for about 22 years. Two years later, Lionel Nathan agreed to sell his business as an artists’ materials manufacturer to Lionel Nathan & Co Ltd but by 1907 the company had ceased to trade (National Archives, BT 31/7669/54747; see also London Gazette 7 August 1908).
This business was perhaps a successor to Joseph Nathan who was supplying canvas from 7 St Swithin’s Lane EC in the early 1870s (information from Cathy Proudlove) and who was recorded as a picture dealer at this address in 1871. Joseph Nathan was listed at 39 Clifton Gardens in the 1881 census as Dealer in Fine Arts, age 43. His canvas mark has been recorded, 1871 (information from Cathy Proudlove).
Updated September 2012
*Robert R. Nelson 1840-1846, 1853-1876 (not in business independently 1847-1852), Alfred Nelson 1877-1904, Alfred Nelson & Son 1904-1918 or later. At 32 Nicolson St, Edinburgh 1840-1846,27 South Hanover St by 1853-1867, 19 South Hanover St 1868-1902, street renumbered 1902, 37 South Hanover St 1903-1918 or later. Stationers, booksellers, printsellers, artists’ colourmen, carvers and gilders.
Robert Renton Nelson (c.1816-1899) was in business in Edinburgh by 1840, trading as a stationer and bookseller initially, and then as a printseller, artists’ colourman and framemaker. He was followed by his nephew, Alfred (1851-1904), and by Alfred’s son, Thomas.
In successive censuses, Robert Nelson can be found with his wife Frances, in 1841 trading as a bookseller in Nicolson Square, in 1851 living at 106 Elm Tree Cottage, Causewayside, as a clerk (printseller and artist colourman), suggesting that he was not then in business independently, in 1861 as an artists’ colourman at 33 London St, in 1871 as an artists’ colourman at the Fountain, Lasswade, south of Edinburgh, in 1881 by now retired, still at Lasswade, and in 1891, remarried to a much younger wife, Isabella and living at 29 Woodburn Terrace, Edinburgh. Nelson’s death was recorded in 1899, when he was described as an artists’ colourman.
Alfred Nelson, Robert Renton Nelson’s nephew, took over the business in 1877 (Edinburgh Gazette 22 May 1877). He was born in October 1851, the son of Thomas Peacock and Eliza Nelson, and can be found living at home in the 1871 census as an artists’ colourman, age 19. In subsequent censuses he was recorded with his wife Jane and son Thomas, in 1881 as a colourman and picture framemaker, in 1891 as a colourman and printseller at 2 Alva St and in 1901 as a printseller, by now age 49, and 34 Henderson Road. He died in 1904, the business being carried on by ‘Son Thomas Nelson and Mrs Nelson' (Roberson ledgers, see Woodcock 1997). In 1913 it was listed as trading as Alfred Nelson & Son, printsellers, picture restorers, picture framemakers, carvers & gilders and artists’ colourmen. It shared an address with the Hanover Gallery in the early 20th century.
Trade as a colourman: Nelson advertised in 1853 that he had just received from Mr Newman, Soho Square, London, ‘a complete assortment of his Water Colours, in Moist and Hard Cakes; Brushes, both Sable and Hog Tools, and Drawing Pencils’, also advertising as an agent for Roberson’s oil tube colours (Caledonian Mercury 23 June 1853). The Nelson business had an account with Roberson, 1853-1908, initially trading asRobert R. Nelson, and subsequently as Alfred Nelson, Mrs A. Nelson & Son and A. Nelson & Son (Woodcock 1997).
Nelson’s canvas stamp can be found on Joseph Noel Paton's The Indian Boy's Mother, said to date to c.1849, with 27 Hanover St address (Christie's 22 November 2006 lot 227), Joseph Farquharson's Cottage in a rural landscape, c.1871 (Christie’s, Edinburgh, 27 October 2005 lot 94, also bearing a Roberson label) and James Drummond’s Baroness Burdett Coutts and her companion Mrs Brown, Edinburgh, 1874, stamped around oval: ROBERT R. NELSON 19 HANOVER ST, EDINBURGH. and within oval: STATIONER/ ARTISTS’ COLOURMAN/ AND/ PICTURE FRAME/ MAKER (Christie's 15 December 2010 lot 43, in original frame with thistles).
In his early years, William McTaggart had an account with Nelson, from whom he purchased colours, canvas and stretcher, palette knife and mahlstick and also borrowed or hired a child lay figure in 1859-60 (Lindsay Errington, William McTaggart, 1835-1910, exh.cat., National Gallery of Scotland, 1989, p.20).
Updated March 2014
G. & I. Newman, Little Chelsea; Bridge Row, Ranelagh, Chelsea 1785-1787.Colour makers.
George Newman paid rates at Bridge Row in 1785 and 1787. The other partner in this short-lived business, G. & I. Newman, remains to be identified. There is no demonstrable connection with James Newman (see below). Nor is there evidence to make a connection to the partnership between Josiah and George Newman, leather sellers, at Holborn Hill, which was dissolved in 1797 (London Gazette 30 January 1798).
The business used its trade card, with added manuscript date 1786, to advertise as ‘G and I. NEWMAN, COLOUR MAKER'S,/ And Preparers of Superfine Water Colours, Superior to any ever yet Invented/ in this Kingdom, & warranted to Stand on Paper, Silks &c, &c for/ a Century from 7s/6d to 5 Guineas Pr. Box. Also make Blue and Green/ Verditer. Likewise beg to Recommend their much Approved Trans/ parent Yellow Lake, Crayon Pencils Equal to the Swiss. Liquid/ Colours in Bottles, Indian Ink of the finest Quality,/ all kinds of Colours Oil or Water may be had/ Wholesale & Retale & 20Pr. Cent cheaper than in/ London, at their Manufac.ry Little Chelsea (amended in pen to:) Bridge Row Ranelagh/ NB their Prepar’d Colours in Boxes may be had/ in every Principal Town throughout England…’ (Banks coll. 89.25).
Updated September 2014, January 2017
*James Newman 1784-1933, James Newman Ltd 1933-1959. At Gerrard St, London by 1784, 17 Gerrard St 1785-1801, 24 Soho Square 1801-1937, 33 Soho Square 1937-1938, 6 Great Marlborough St 1938-1940, 178 Kensington High St, W8 1941-1959. Factory in George Yard, rear of Soho Square 1800-1937. Artists’ colourmen.
One of the leading businesses of the late 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries. Early trade cards, dating to the period from 1785, establish James Newman (c.1757-1835) as successor to Lawrence Smith (qv) of Princes St, who was possibly his grandfather. These trade cards specify his product range (see below), including colours made by Reeves. Newman, or more probably his father, apparently also named James, is known to have been active as a ‘pencil maker’ from Princes St, Leicester Fields as early as 1774 when one of the artists exhibiting at the Society of Artists annual exhibition, the engraver, Monsieur Letteret, gave this as his address in the exhibition catalogue.
James Newman, pencil maker, was in business at 17 Gerrard St by the time he took out an insurance policy on 25 June 1785 (London Metropolitan Archives, Sun Fire Office policy registers, 328/506170). Initially, he shared his premises with Dedric Smith, coach lantern maker, possibly a relative. In 1784 Newman was listed in Gerrard St as brushmaker (Bailey’s Western Midlands directory), in 1785 as hair pencil maker and dealer in colours (Bailey’s British directory) and in 1789 as pencil maker and colourman, a description which was repeated on his very elegant trade sheet designed and engraved in stipple by Giovanni Vitalba and published 24 January 1794 (Banks coll. 89.24*; later example with Soho Square address, 1803, Heal coll. 89.106). In 1801 Newman advertised his removal to 24 Soho Square (Morning Chronicle 25 April 1801). By about 1800 or 1801 George Blackman (qv) was advertising with the claim that he had been tutor to James Newman. James Newman took out further insurance policies at 24 Soho Square, and sometimes for adjacent properties, from 1809 to 1831 (London Metropolitan Archives, Sun Fire Office policy registers, vols 328, 448, 453, 465, 476, 483, 488, 493, 509, 516, 528).
James Newman was one of three businesses singled out in 1811 by the drawing master and flower and landscape painter, John Cart Burgess, as having brought watercolours to the greatest perfection, the other two being Reeves & Woodyer and Smith, Warner & Co (qv) (John Cart Burgess, A Practical Essay on the Art of Flower Painting, 1811, p.32). ‘In my opinion’, Burgess wrote, ‘Mr Newman may justly claim a pre-eminence over all other colormen’, singling out certain colours made by Newman as peculiarly excelling those of other manufacturers: Red Lake, Indian Red, finest Ultramarine, English Smalt (‘never ground sufficiently fine for use, except by Mr. Newman’), Antwerp Blue, Gamboge, Indian Yellow, Constant White (‘the only one that I have found durable’), Sepia and Vandyke Brown. In the same year, 1811, another commentator, Paul Sandby’s biographer, while attributing the improvement in watercolours to John Middleton (qv), described them as ‘now brought to so great perfection by Reeves, Newman, and others’ (Monthly Magazine 1 June 1811, see Burlington Magazine, vol.88, 1946, p.146).
Newman’s colours were stocked by William Jones (qv) before 1819, by Zanetti & Agnew in Manchester in 1822 (Pigot & Co’s Lancashire directory), by Robert Hamilton in Edinburgh in 1824 (The Scotsman 29 December 1824), by Grundy & Fox in Manchester in 1827 (Manchester Guardian 28 April 1827) and by J. & M. Finlay in Glasgow in 1837 (see British picture framemakers on this website). Newman supplied pigment samples to George Field (Harley 1979 pp.79-81; colour samples repr. Harley 1982 pl.2, 3), and subscribed to Field’s Chromatography, 1835 (Carlyle 2001 p.18 n.25). As to Newman’s suppliers, the business had an account with Roberson, 1820-1908 (Woodcock 1997), and made large and repeated payments to Lewis Berger (qv) (Berger 1910 p.10, referring to Newman's now lost bill books). A framed sign in gouache in the Museum of London is evidence of an appointment to the Princess of Wales, presumably dating to about 1815.
A dispute with Henry Joseph, a rival firm situated at 14 Soho Square close to Newman’s premises, led to an assault and prosecution in 1840 (The Scotsman 21 October 1840); Joseph’s business at 14 Soho Square was on the market in 1848 (The Times 29 November 1848).
James Newman, the founder of the business, died in 1835 at the age of 78, and was buried at St Mary Paddington Green on 28 September that year, the funeral being conducted by the rector of St Anne Soho. Newman left a very lengthy will, proved 14 November, in which he referred to his son James. This son is presumably the James Newman who was recorded at 26 Soho Square in the 1831 census, as a colourman, age 26, together with Richard Newman, age 19, also a colourman. The partnership between James Newman and Richard William Newman, trading as James Newman at 24 Soho Square, was dissolved on 31 December 1849 (London Gazette 18 October 1850). The later history of the business is described below.
Newman’s early product range and links with artists: Newman’s trade card, with added manuscript date 1785, advertised his business as 'NEWMAN,/ Successor to Mr. Smith,/ N.17, Gerrard Street/ SOHO./ Pencil & Brush/ MAKER./ NB Reeves's Colours/ Black Lead Pencils’ (Banks coll. 89.24, repr. Staples 1984 p.15). A slightly later card, reproduced as frontispiece to various 20th-century Newman catalogues, advertised, ‘Painting /JAMES NEWMAN,/ No. 17 Gerrard Street, Soho, London./ Successor to the late Mr. Lawrence Smith/ respectfully acquaints the lovers of the polite Art, the Public in general,/ that he prepares and sells,/ Colours in Cakes, Pots, Bladders & Spirits, single or in Boxes compleat/ for Oil & Water, also fine soft Crayons, Hair Black lead, and Crayon/ Pencils, Badger, Fitch, Hog, and Camel hair tools, which he flatters/ himself are superior to any yet offered, being all manufactured under/ his immediate inspection./ Likewise all sorts of Drawing paper, Italian, French & English Chalks,/ Easels, Pallets, Knives, dry Colours of all kinds, curious Saucers for Colours./ and every other Article for Drawing & Painting.’ (Heal coll. 89.105). The wording of this trade card is followed, in abbreviated form, in a newspaper advertisement of 1787, advertising ‘colours in cakes, pots, bladders, and spirits, which will be found superior to any yet offered; also makes and sells fine soft crayons, hair, black lead, and crayon pencils, and every other article for drawing’ (The Times 5 May 1787).
The business dealt with many well-known artists in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. It was used by Richard Cosway, who ordered a particular blue pigment 'from old Newman' (George Williamson, Richard Cosway, R.A. and his Wife and Pupils, 1897, p.91) and by Richard Wilson (T. Wright, Some Account of the Life of Richard Wilson, Esq R.A., 1824, p.75, but note that Wilson died in 1782). Both Cosway and Wilson may have dealt with Newman’s father. Newman provided anecdotes on Wilson to George Field (Gage 2001 p.65 n.38). Other early customers include William Theed the elder, who wrote home to his father from Rome in 1792 requesting him to obtain black lead pencils, colours, palette knives and hogs hair brushes from Newman’s (Paul Mellon Centre, Brinsley Ford archive, RBF/1/713), Francis Wheatley, who was in debt to Newman in 1797(Farington vol.3, p.860), the 3rd Earl of Egremont, 1800-2 (Petworth House Archives PHA/7558, 8024, 8064, 10491) and John Holland, Joseph Wright of Derby’s friend, who took some of his brushes in 1805 (Barker 2009 p.213 n.124).
Newman’s customers in the first half of the 19th century included the miniaturist, John Smart who purchased materials to the value of £19.8s.8d, 1803-8 (Foskett 1964 p.35), the draughtsman and miniaturist, William Wood, who used Newman’s light silk paper in 1809 (V&A National Art Library, MSL/1944/436), Samuel De Wilde who purchased pencils and paper in August 1810 (typescript of De Wilde diary, 1810-11, National Portrait Gallery), George Chinnery who remarked on the nature of Newman’s vermilion, 1814 (Harley 1982 p.128), J.M.W. Turner who wrote ordering canvas and powder colours in 1827 (A.J. Finberg, The Life of J.M.W. Turner, R.A., 2nd ed., 1961, p.303; Gage 1980 p.108), John Linnell, a customer 1817-40, who ordered a range of artists’ materials including colours, e.g., his account for £2.17s.4d dated 16 September 1825 (John Linnell Archive, Fitzwilliam Museum, see also Linnell 1994 p.42), Thomas Uwins who requested cakes of burnt umber and lamp black to be sent out to him at Naples in 1827 (Uwins 1858 p.391), Andrew Plimer, who had a few Newman colours in his studio at his death in 1837 (George Williamson, Andrew & Nathaniel Plimer, 1903, p.67) and Samuel Palmer who was a regular customer, describing Newman’s in 1865 as ‘a most reliable place for water colours’ (Lister 1974 p.735); he wrote from Rome in 1838 requesting Linnell to obtain cakes of Newman's orange vermilion mat (Lister 1974 pp.114, 119) and between 1857 and 1872 mentioned their thick imperial white paper in his correspondence, as well as various boards including London Board, sketchbooks of whitey-brown paper and cedar colour-boxes (Lister 1974 pp.525, 527, 652, 735, 864).
Much later Newman’s advertised that they had been supplying various artists for over 150 years, amongst others Constable, Cotman, David Cox, Creswick, Crome, De Wint, Etty, Copley Fielding, Hoppner, Pugin, Turner and Varley (Who's Who in Art 1934, information from Cathy Proudlove). William Etty’s watercolour box in the Royal Academy collection contains a few Newman watercolour cakes as well as numerous made by Winsor & Newton (exh. From Academy to Arcadia: Studies of the Nude by William Etty RA and Thomas Stothard RA, Royal Academy, 2005, case 5a, see An introduction and guide to the display).
The mid and later 19th century: The 19th-century history of the James Newman business remains to be traced in detail. At the end of the century, W.F. Mills was described as Newman's 'present proprietor' in a book on the history of Soho (J.H. Cardwell, Two Centuries of Soho: its institutions, firms and amusements, 1898, p.160). William Frederick Mills (c.1820/6-1900) appears in censuses as born in London, living in Chelsea, in 1881 as a colourman, age 55, and in 1891 as an artist’s colour manufacturer, age 68. He died on 2 January 1900 (London Gazette 20 March 1900), reportedly at the age of 80, in the Chelsea district.
Newman’s products were widely traded in the mid-19th century. In Edinburgh their watercolours were stocked by Alexander Hill (qv), and subsequently by Robert R. Nelson (qv), according to his newspaper advertisement in 1853, and by Marsh and Beattie (qv), who advertised a wide range of Newman products in their trade catalogue of about 1853. In Paris their colours seem to have been more widely stocked than those of any other London business in the decades from the 1830s, including by J. Panier (1830-44), St Maurice Cabany, c.1832 (Magasin de papiers, Fabrique d´encres, pp), Lonchampt & Macle (1838-9), Dutfoy jeune (1839-42), Auguste Flagoutier (1839), Lefranc frères (1842-4), Binant (1850-74), A. Giroux & Cie (1844-56, as ‘seules dépositaires de Newman de Londres’), Tolle (1862-75, as ‘seules dép[ositaires].’) (Clotilde Roth-Meyer, Les Marchands de couleurs à Paris au XIXe siècle, PhD thesis, Université Paris Sorbonne, 2004; S. Bottin, Almanach du Commerce de Paris, 1838, 1839; Didot freres, Annuaire Général du Commerce ... Paris, 1852, 1860; see also Giroux in this Resource). In Brussels at H. Remy & Soeur, 1844 (Remy & Soeur, invoice, 7 August 1844, see Delcampe.net). In the United States their products were stocked in New York by Bourne’s Depository of Arts (trade catalogue, 1830, see Katlan 1992 p.314), Edward Dechaux (trade catalogue, 1860, see Katlan 1992 p.321) and Goupil & Co (trade catalogues, 1854, 1857, see Katlan 1992 pp.347, 349) and in Philadelphia by Carey & Lea in 1824 (Philadelphia in 1824: or, a brief account of the various institutions, 1824, advertising section p.16, accessed through Google Book Search).
Newman advertised drawing materials, including ‘Imitation Creswick Paper’ and John Parry’s diagonal sketching box in the Art Journal Advertiser (numerous issues, including January 1851, January 1853 and March 1854). The business published very occasional instruction manuals, which included catalogues of their products, for example, The Principles and Practice of Harmonious Colours… Especially as Applied to Photographs on Paper, Glass, and Canvas, 1859 (copy in British Library, 787.d.58). Some of these catalogues may be viewed using Google Book Search. The business advertised in The Year's Art: ‘The “Slow Drying” Moist Colours, for the field or the studio’ (1880), later described as ‘Slow-Drying Tube Moist Water Colours’ (1883), ‘Black and White. The most brilliant Black with Body Colour for Process Work’ (1895), a new drawing paper for artists and artists’ watercolour tablets (1896), and ‘useful new shades in Hand-made Tinted Paper for Water Colour Painting' (1914).
A large number of Newman marks have been recorded on boards and canvases from the 1850s onwards. An early example is a work by Boyce, 1857, stencilled on a prepared board (information from Cathy Proudlove). Examples from the 1880s include George Reid’s Sir Henry Frere, 1881 (National Portrait Gallery), John William Waterhouse’s The Lady of Shalott, 1888 (Tate), Charles Napier Kennedy's Neptune, 1889 (Walker Art Gallery, see Morris 1996) and Yeend King's From Green to Gold, exh.1889 (Walker Art Gallery, see Morris 1996). The watercolour artist, Alfred William Hunt, used several Newman sketchbooks, mainly in the 1870s (Ashmolean Museum, see Newall 2004 pp.173-8). John Brett recorded using Newman’s colours, 1884-1892 (Lowry 2001 p.40).
Marked supports from the 1890s and subsequently include Charles Wellington Furse’s John Murray, c.1891 (National Portrait Gallery), John Gilbert’s A Venetian Council of War, 1891-2, marked beneath three feathers: NEWMAN. SOHO SQUARE. LONDON (Manchester Art Gallery), Walter Sickert’s George Holyoake, exh.1892 (National Portrait Gallery), Arthur Tomson's Piping down the Valleys Wild, exh.1892 (Walker Art Gallery, see Morris 1996), John Singer Sargent’s Mannikin in the Snow, c.1891-3 (Metropolitan Museum of Art, see Katlan 1987 p.283), Frederick Sandys’ James R. Bulwer, 1894 (Inner Temple, London, see Elzea 2001 pp.280, 340), William Charles Estall’s The Sheepfold, by 1897 (Manchester Art Gallery), Philip Wilson Steer’s The Toilet of Venus, 1898 (Tate), The Falls, Richmond, Yorkshire, 1903 (National Gallery of Victoria, Australia, see Payne 2007 p.51), Sunset, 1913 (Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, MA, see Lees 2012 p.751), Painswick Beacon, 1915 (Tate, see Hackney 1999 p.126) and Self-portrait, 1920 (Fitzwilliam Museum). As well as using Newman’s canvas on occasion, John Singer Sargent used a sketchbook supplied by Newman, 1918 (Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge see Stewart 2000 p.34), and appears to have used Newman moist colours in tubes; eight out of 15 colours surviving in his studio were supplied by Newman (Marjorie B. Cohn, Wash and gouache: a study of the development of the materials of watercolor, Fogg Art Museum, 1977, p.66).
The 20th century: A glimpse of the business in 1934 towards the end of its life may be had from an article, ‘Grinding Colours by Hand’, describing the shop and the factory to the rear (The Times 24 August 1934). On entering one found, ‘the counter, bearing pyramids of sketch-books and sheaves of brushes’, and ‘a monster paint box built of ebony and inlaid silver for the Crystal Palace Exhibition’, in the back premises, ‘Stacks of dusty China palettes… endless reams of paper’, and in the factory, made up of washing-room, grinding-room, drying-room and filling-room, ‘every process necessary to the preparing of artists’ colours was being done by hand’.
The firm held royal appointments to Edward VII 1901-10, George V 1921-4 and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother 1950 (Katlan 1992 p.461). The business was carried on as a partnership between Edward Frederick Chapman (b.1857) and Charles Osborn Cooper (1869-1943), trading as James Newman, until this partnership was dissolved in 1933 and the business reconfigured as James Newman Ltd (London Gazette 25 April 1933). It is said to have been purchased by Reeves, 1936, and its identity retained (Goodwin 1966 p.43). It was obliged to move from 24 Soho Square when the building was demolished in 1937 and then to move again in August 1938 to allow for expansion, according to their trade catalogue which included a photograph of the demolished premises together with views of the workshops (Catalogue. Artists’ Colour Manufacturers, c.1938, 99pp). By 1941 it was trading from Reeves’s premises at 178 Kensington High St. Newman’s was advertising from this address in 1951, as was Reeves (The Artist, vol.41, May 1951), but the premises were rebranded as Clifford Milburn Ltd (qv) by 1960. In 1951 Newman’s directors were L.C. Simmons, Noel Simmons and R.H. Harrison (see letter heading, example in Victoria and Albert Museum Archive, MA/1/R502).
In a trade catalogue of c.1905-8, Newman’s advertised a wide range of products under their own name, and also pencils of English and continental manufacturer, made by various firms, French figures in walnut on articulated skeletons, various English and French drawing papers etc (Artists’ Color Manufacturer. Catalogue, 151pp, copy in British Library, 7871.ee.18). The main items featured in Newman catalogues of c.1910 and c.1950 have been listed elsewhere (Katlan 1992 pp.352-3). In the 1930s, the firm advertised the ideal easel for outdoor painting and Newman's own best make tripod stool (The Artist, vol.7, June 1934). ‘We grind our colours by hand’, reads an advertisement with four illustrations of the process (Art Review 1935).
James Newman was one of five businesses, including Winsor & Newton, George Rowney, Reeves & Son and C. Roberson, acting together as Associated Colour Merchants, which signed an agreement in 1916 with J. Barcham Green & Son to produce a range of papers for them, watermarked ‘A.C.M.’ and the words ‘Watercolour Paper England’ (Barcham Green 1994, p.35).
Marked supports from the 1900s to the 1920s include Arthur Cope’s Sir William Harcourt, 1904 (National Portrait Gallery), William Nicholson’s Tenterden, 1908, canvas laid on board, labelled: From/ Newman’s/ 24, Soho Square./ London. (Sotheby’s 18 November 2014 lot 126), William Rothenstein’s William Michael Rossetti, c.1909, and John Cooke’s Marquess Curzon, 1914 or after (both National Portrait Gallery), Alfred Munnings’ A Patrol in France, 1918 (Sotheby’s 10 December 2014 lot 63), Ambrose McEvoy’s Sir Johnston Forbes-Robertson, 1919 (Christie's South Kensington 6 September 2006 lot 75), Elliott Seabrooke’s Landscape, 1922, marked: NEWMAN; SOHO SQUARE, LONDON (Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery, Leeds, see Diaper 2012 p.99), James Bolivar Manson’s Michaelmas Daisies, c.1923 (Tate, see ‘The Camden Town Group in Context’, research project, at www.tate.org.uk) and Dora Carrington's Julia Strachey, 1925 (Sotheby's 28 June 2006 lot 9). Frances Hodgkins mentions Newman as a supplier of paint, probably at some time after 1906, and may also have bought their paper (Larsen 2009 p.5).
Marked supports from the 1930s and 1940s include Albert Rutherston’s The Pump, Nash End, 1931 (Tate, see ‘The Camden Town Group in Context’, research project, at www.tate.org.uk), Philip Steegman’s The Chinese Chef (Portrait of Hing), 1932, board (Sotheby’s 10 May 2012 lot 118), Lady Martin, 1935, and Sir Alec Martin, 1935 (Tate, see ‘The Camden Town Group in Context’, as above), and Paul Nash’s The Archer (Southampton Art Gallery), Encounter of Two Objects, 1937 (Christie’s South Kensington 15 November 2006 lot 97), Totes Meer (Dead Sea), 1940-1 (Tate), Landscape of the Moon’s First Quarter, 1943 (private coll.), Landscape of the Brown Fungus, 1943, and Landscape of the Vernal Equinox, 1943/44 (both National Galleries of Scotland, information from Owen Davison, October 2016). There are papers relating to the supply of canvas and oil canvas paper to Nash, 1940, in the Tate Archive (TGA 7050/887-894).
Other customers included the Spanish artist, Joaquin Sorolla, who in 1910 ordered colours and requested canvas samples (letter, 6 March 1910, Museo Sorolla, Madrid), Gluck who obtained tubes of hand-ground oil paints from Newman’s, 1913-36 (Souhami 2000 p.258), and Edward Bawden, who used their watercolour paints (see Robert E. Wynne-Jones, A Historical Investigation into the Watercolour Paper and Pigments used by… British War Artists during the Second World War, IIC poster 2002).
Added September 2013
Richard Bowden Newsom, 14 Wellington St, Borough, London 1834-1837, oilman and artists’ colourman; 7, 8 and 9 Leyland St, Vauxhall 1837, candle maker and preparer of canvas and mill boards for artists; 9-10 Leland St, Lambeth 1839 candlemaker and colourman. Post-1839, see below.
Richard Bowden Newsom (1806-80) led a varied career over many years in retailing and manufacturing. He was christened on 22 January 1806 at St Mary Scarborough, the son of Joseph Newsom and Sarah Maria, née Bowden. He was apprenticed in 1820 to his father, a grocer and tallow chandler of St Albans, Hertfordshire, and a Citizen and Cordwainer of London, and was admitted in 1827 to the freedom of the Company of Cordwainers. His father set up as a tea dealer in the Borough in 1823.
Richard Bowden Newsom married Mary Wright in 1830 and they had eight surviving children. He traded from 14 Wellington St, Borough as an oilman and artists’ colourman from 1834 to 1837, and was specifically listed as an artists’ colourman in Pigot’s 1836 London directory. He was followed at this address by Frank Livett, oilman and artists’ colourman, in 1838. Newsom moved to 7, 8 and 9 Leyland St, Vauxhall, where he took out insurance as a patent wax candle maker and preparer of canvas and mill boards for artists in May 1837 (London Metropolitan Archives, Sun Fire Office policy registers, 564/1250680). In Pigot’s 1839 directory he was described as an artist, colourman and manufacturer of improved imperial wax and sperm candles, his last listing as a colourman.
His partnership with William Bayley the younger as goldbeaters at 79 White Lion St, Pentonville, and woodcutters in Hoxton, was subject to bankruptcy proceedings in 1860 (London Gazette 5 June 1860). Described as of Orpington, he was made bankrupt again in 1865, when in partnership with William Maslen and Thomas Tillam, gas apparatus manufacturers (London Gazette 7 February 1865). In census records he can be found in Lambeth in 1841, in Plaistow in 1851 as a ‘collector wine trade’ and in 1871 in Orpington as a retired grocer. He died in January 1880 at the age of 73, leaving an estate worth under £100.
Activities as an artists’ supplier: A porcelain watercolour palette once owned by J.M.W. Turner can be dated to the mid-1830s since it bears an oval printed label: R.B. NEWSOM/ 14 BOROUGH/ Requisites for/ Drawing & Painting. (Royal Academy, 03/7070).
Sources: John Edwin Brigg, Memorials of the families of Newsom and Brigg, Huddersfield, 1898, pp.40, 44-5.
Robert Norie, Edinburgh, see Taylor & Norrie
James Norton 1839, James L. Norton 1843-1847, Mrs Elizabeth Norton 1849-1919 or later, Norton Artists’ Supply Ltd by 1920-1930 or later, not listed 1935. At 52 High St, Deritend, Birmingham 1839, 119 New St 1843, 118 New St 1846-1858, 104 New St 1858-1863, 84 New St 1863-1866, 29 Paradise St 1866-1920 or later, 199 Broad St by 1925-1930 or later. Initially printsellers, then primarily artists’ materials suppliers.
James Lansdown Norton (c.1803-1848) married Betty Spencer in Birmingham in 1829. He was an agent for the Art-Union magazine in Birmingham in 1839 (The Art-Union, September 1839, p.141). He was listed in New St in Birmingham in the 1841 census as a printseller, age 38, with wife Elizabeth, age 39, and four children. As a print seller of Birmingham, he was made bankrupt in 1847 (London Gazette 9 November 1847). He died the following year. Elizabeth Norton, his widow, then took on this Birmingham printselling and artists’ materials business, and seems to have been followed by her three daughters, Sarah (1837-1916), Marianne (1838-1916) and Eleanor (1847/8-1934). Elizabeth Norton was trading as a printseller in 1852 and as an artists’ repository in 1858, a description still used for the business as late as 1912. The business moved premises several times, as it advertised, in 1858 to 104 New St as a consequence of the demolition of 118 New St, in 1863 to 84 New St, referring to its stock of artists’ drawing and sketching materials, fancy and general stationery, and to framing and glazing, and then in 1866 to 29 Paradise St (Birmingham Daily Post 5 May 1858, 27 June 1863, 6 March 1866).
The business had an account with Roberson, under the name of Mrs E. Norton, 118 New St 1855, later trading as Mrs Norton 1869-1908 (Woodcock 1997); the Roberson accounts note that E. Norton was the trading name of an 'Artists' Materials & Stationery' partnership, between Marianne Norton, Sarah Gough and Eleanor Bruckshaw, which was dissolved in 1888, but continued under the same name by Gough and Bruckshaw (London Gazette 7 February 1888). In the 1901 census Sarah Gough, age 64, was listed at 29 Paradise St as artists material dealer, with husband Francis Gough, age 66, printers compositor, and daughter Sarah, age 24, assistant in her mother’s business and a son age 21. Eleanor Bruckshaw withdrew from the partnership in 1906 (London Gazette 10 July 1906). Sarah Gough died in 1916 (London Gazette 11 July 1916).
Several marks and labels have been recorded, one dated 1903.
It is worth noting that James Lansdown Norton’s grandson, also James Lansdown Norton, founded the Norton Manufacturing Company for motorcycles in 1898.