British artists' suppliers, 1650-1950 - A

An online resource, launched in 2006, selectively updated twice yearly. Last updated March 2024. Contributions are welcome, to Jacob Simon at [email protected].

Resources and bibliography

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Updated September 2014, September 2018
Rudolph Ackermann 1794-1832, R. Ackermann & Co 1829-1855. At 7 Little Russell St, Covent Garden, London 1792, 96 Strand 1795-1797, 101 Strand (‘four doors nearer to Somerset House’) 1797-1827,96 Strand 1827-1857. Publishers, printsellers, stationers, manufacturers of watercolour paints.

Rudolph Ackermann (1764-1834) was born in Saxony. He trained as a carriage designer, settling in London in about 1787 (Ford 2018 p.14) and moving to Little Russell St in 1792 (Ford 2018 p.24). He opened his premises at 101 Strand in 1797 (Morning Chronicle 27 November 1797). He was naturalized as British by Act of Parliament, 1809 (Parliamentary Archives, House of Lords, HL/PO/PB/1/1809/49G3n45). His portrait is attributed to Abraham Mouchet, c.1811-20. He received a royal appointment as superfine watercolour manufacturer to the King in 1823 (Ford 2018 p.265). This account is indebted to John Ford’s work, both his earlier book, Ackermann 1783-1983, the Business of Art (Ford 1983) and his new book, incorporating extensive additional research, Rudolph Ackermann & the Regency World (Ford 2018).

By 1800 or soon after, Ackermann had become the leading publisher of colour-plate books, decorative prints and fashionable periodicals. His ‘Repository of Arts’, as his premises at 101 Strand were known from 1798, became a feature of fashionable London life; the interior, 65 by 30 feet, height 24 feet, was depicted in a print after Augustus Pugin and Thomas Rowlandson, published in the first issue of Ackermann’s monthly magazine, The Repository of the Arts, January 1809 (repr. Ford 1983 p.46, Krill 2001 p.162; examples in Johnson Collection). These premises had formerly been the home of Shipley’s drawing academy. When his lease expired in 1827 Ackermann returned to premises the business had once occupied at 96 Strand, publishing a view of the exterior in The Repository of the Arts, June 1827.

Ackermann’s partnership with his son-in-law, Thomas Butler, was dissolved in 1829 (London Gazette 19 March 1830). The business became Ackermann & Co and was run by a partnership of his younger sons, George (1803-91) and Ferdinand (1813-60) with Henry Walton, and from 1832 with another brother, Adolphus (1810-58), as Ackermann announced in October that year (Ford 2018 p.322). Ackermann’s eldest son, Rudolph Ackermann junior (qv), set up in a similar line of business in 1825, concentrating on publishing sporting and military prints, at 191 Regent St. Ackermann & Co in the Strand faced financial difficulties in 1843. Ferdinand Ackermann left the partnership in 1853 and Henry Walton in 1855 (London Gazette 2 January 1855, 11 April 1856). The business closed in 1855. Its stock was sold in a series of sales from December 1855 until March 1857. George Ackermann then set up at 106 Strand in 1858 but emigrated to Chicago in 1859. Adolphus Ackermann also set up business close by at 15 Beaufort Buildings but committed suicide in 1858 when faced with bankruptcy proceedings (London Gazette 23 February 1858). Rudolph Ackermann junior continued in business in Regent St. The Ackermanns had accounts with Roberson, 1820-1904 (Woodcock 1997).

Rudolph Ackermann’s materials for artists: Ackermann began manufacturing and selling his own watercolours in 1800, using recipes deriving principally from a recent handbook by Constant de Massoul (qv) (Ford 2018 p.59). Some of his early trade cards described him as a colour manufacturer (e.g. Heal coll. 100.2). He bought colours from John Middleton (qv) but his principal suppliers were Ramsden’s, Yallop & Grace (qv) and Berger & Sons (qv) (Ford 1983 p.46). Some colours marketed by him were associated with his own name, such as Ackermann’s green and Ackermann’s yellow. Ackermann told a close German contact, Karl Boetigger, in 1804 that ‘My colours daily receive more acclaim and I can truthfully say that all the artists of this city and this country prefer them to those of Reeves and Newman’, later telling him, in 1817, that he and Newman were acknowledged as ‘the best colour preparers in England, and the difference from the others is like lead to silver’ (Ford 2018 pp.78, 214). He also reported in 1817 that he was now selling his watercolours in Leipzig and Munich.

Ackermann’s watercolours were stocked in Hull by W. Holdsworth (Hull Packet 1 February 1803), Edinburgh by Robert Hamilton (The Scotsman 29 December 1824) and in Manchester by Vittore Zanetti & Co, c.1804-11, by Zanetti & Agnew, 1822, and by Grundy & Fox, 1827 (Zanetti & Co’s trade card, Repository of Arts. Looking-Glass & Mirror Manufacturers, Picture-Frame Makers & Gilders; Pigot & Co’s Lancashire directory, 1822; Manchester Guardian 28 April 1827). Ackermann supplied pigment samples to George Field (qv) (Harley 1979 p.81), and subscribed to Field’s Chromatography, 1835 (Carlyle 2001 p.18 n.25). His honey watercolours and those of some other contemporary colourmen have been the subject of technical analysis (Townsend 2003 pp.141-3, fig.115,Ormsby 2005).

Ackermann’s magazine, The Repository of Arts, 1809-28, helped promote his business. He marketed his products actively, as his numerous trade cards confirm (Banks coll., Heal coll.), as do three other early pieces of trade literature: his trade catalogue, 1801 (List of Ackermann’s Superfine Water Colours, appended to A Treatise on Ackermann’s Superfine Water Colours; with directions how to prepare and use them, etc, 24pp, University of London Library), and two handsome illustrated trade cards or sheets, one dated 1799 (Victoria and Albert Museum, repr. Krill 2002 p.156), the other a broadsheet with prices, with engraving by Maria Cosway, 1 May 1802 (Superfine Water Colours, repr. Fox 1992 p.329; Johnson coll). This broadsheet advertised watercolours in boxes and single cakes, vellum paper, crayon and chalk papers, crayons, chalk, camel hair and sable brushes, ivory for miniatures, stumps, porte-crayons, various coloured and fancy papers, varnish etc. Ackermann advertised his ‘wove writing and drawing papers of the finest quality’ (trade card, c.1803, repr. Ford 2018 p.44). Reflecting his commitment to lithography, he offered ready prepared ‘lithographic stones, of all dimensions, just received from Germany’ to artists and amateurs in 1822 (Ford 2018 p.258).

In 1824 Ackermann announced the opening of his black lead pencil manufactory (Ford 2018 p.275). Three years later Thomas Uwins, an artist who had once worked for Ackermann, requested pencils from Ackermann’s to be sent out to him at Naples, explaining, ‘I brought out a large stock of pencils, but I gave them away so freely, both in France and Italy, with the laudable intention of circulating Ackermann’s reputation, that they are now come to an end.’ (Uwins 1858 p.392).

An artist’s colour box made by Ackermann’s, dating to 1827 or soon after, with a plaque indicating that it belonged to Emily Brontë, was offered at auction in 2009 (Sotheby’s, English Literature, 17 December 2009 lot 76). She also owned a sketchbook with the label inside front cover, ACKERMANN & Co/ Repository of Arts / -96 Strand, and so 1829 or later (Brontë Parsonage Museum, see Christine Alexander and Jane Sellars, The Art of the Brontës, 1995, p.389).

Ackermann & Co’s materials for artists, from 1830: It has been suggested that Rudolph Ackermann did not deal in colours for oil painting, directing customers to Middleton (Whitley 1928(1) p.155). It has also been suggested, on the evidence of the lack of surviving marked canvases, that he did not deal in canvas. However, the business’s product range widened after it became Ackermann & Co in the late 1820s on Rudolph Ackermann’s retirement. Ackermann & Co’s label from 96 Strand advertised ‘Prepared Millboards, Panels, Canvass, and Bladder Colours’ (repr. Katlan 1992 p.455). Examples of this label on white or green paper can be found on Nicholas Condy's A Fish Stall in Plymouth Market (Christie's 22 November 2006 lot 64) and on his three small panels, A Yacht and a Norwegian Coaster in a Storm and two others (Sotheby’s 19 November 2013 lot 59). Ackermann & Co were publishing prints after Condy in 1843. An example of a canvas marked with Ackermann & Co’s stamp is Eduard Magnus's Felix Mendelssohn, 1845 or later (Bodleian Library, information from Dana Josephson, April 2012). For illustrations of Ackermann & Co’s canvas stamp and panel labels, see the guide, British canvas, stretcher and panel suppliers’ marks: Part 2, A to D.

Ackermann & Co’s colours were stocked in Glasgow by J. & M. Finlay in 1837 (see British picture framemakers), in Paris by J. Panier in 1839 (S. Bottin, Almanach du Commerce de Paris, 1839) and the business’s pencils, watercolours and colour boxes in Quebec in 1833 and 1841 (Levenson 1983 pp.41-2).

In a trade catalogue, c.1840, Ackermann & Co’s product range extended to some materials for oil painting but not to canvas. It included Ackermann’s superfine watercolours, Macpherson’s colours for miniature painting, prepared drawing pencils, vellum drawing paper, coloured crayon papers, London drawing boards, superfine Bristol boards, Bristol mounting boards, superfine crayon boards, improved solid sketch books, sketching portfolios, camel hair pencils and other brushes, bladder colours for oil painting, prepared millboards for oil painting, prepared paper for sketching in oils, hog hair brushes for oil painting, chalks for drawings, crayons, porte-crayons and stumps for chalk, and sundry articles, together with various publications, drawing books, lithographic stones and zinc plates (List of the most essential Requisites for Artists and Amateurs, 11pp, appended to George Barret, The Theory and Practice of Water Colour Painting, 1840, copy in British Library, 1044.k.11).

Ackermann & Co’s advertisements in The Art-Union featured the ‘Photogenic Drawing Box, for copying objects by means of the sun’ (April 1839 p.53, May 1839 p.77), ‘moist colours for out-door sketching’, ‘block sketch books’, Macpherson’s colours (June 1839 p.94), ‘vitrified silica medium’ (September 1841 p.145, with letter referring to this advertisement October 1841 p.164; for this medium, see Carlyle 2001 pp.120-1). James Baker Pyne records using R. Ackermann & Co’s boracic Silex medium as a vehicle for several paintings in 1840, including Littlehampton Pier, Arundel Castle, sold to George Field (qv), and Nant Mill (Pyne’s Picture memoranda, V&A National Art Library, MSL/1947/1562).

Sources: Maxted 1977 (for the firm’s addresses); Ford 1983; Fox 1992; Proudlove 1996; Krill 2002 pp.156, 162-6; Ford 2018. For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.

Updated September 2018
Rudolph Ackermann junior, 191 Regent St, London from 1825, named the Eclipse Sporting Gallery from 1829, trading as Rudolph Ackermann after his father’s death in 1834. Publisher, printseller, manufacturer of watercolour paints.

Rudolph Ackermann senior (qv) began business in the Strand in the 1790s as a publisher, printseller, stationer and manufacturer of watercolours. By 1815, he had given his eldest son, Rudolph Ackermann junior (1793-1868), responsibility for manufacturing the business’s watercolour paints (advertisement insert for Repository of Arts, vol.14, July 1815, kindly communicated by John Ford). In 1825 he helped his son set up in business at 191 Regent St. Rudolph junior came to concentrate on publishing sporting and military prints. His business was continued by his son, Arthur Ackermann (1830-1914), becoming Arthur Ackermann & Son Ltd in 1906, moving to Bond St in 1912. It was acquired by Peter Johnson in 1991 to become Ackermann and Johnson Ltd (Proudlove 1996) but from 2008 it has traded as Arthur Ackermann Ltd.

Rudolph Ackermann junior sold his own watercolour paints (a paintbox is repr. Ford 1983 p.101). He described himself as 'Manufacturer of Superfine Water-Colours, To their Majesties and the Royal Family' in an 1837 catalogue which included watercolours, drawing papers and block sketch books (appended to John Cawse, The Art of Painting Portraits... in Oil Colours, 1840, copy in British Library, 786.i.29). Ackermann watercolours feature in the 1896 catalogue of a leading Dusseldorf firm (Preis-Liste von Stephan Schoenfeld, 1896, 288pp). The Ackermanns had accounts with Roberson, 1820-1904 (Woodcock 1997).

For an illustration of this business’s canvas label on board, see the guide British canvas, stretcher and panel suppliers’ marks: Part 2, A to D.

Sources: Ford 1983especially pp.99-101; Proudlove 1996; Krill 2002 pp.156, 162-6. For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.

Added May 2017, updated March 2021
John Adams, 73 Woodgrange Road, Forest Gate, Essex, now London E7, by 1890-1891, 135 Woodgrange Road 1892-1903 or later. Picture framemaker and artists’ colourman.

John Adams (1853-1920?) was born in Bethnal Green. He married Alice Revans Bruce in Bethnal Green in 1881 and they moved from there to Forest Gate in 1886 or 1887 as is clear from their children’s birthplaces. He was listed as a framemaker, age 37, at 73 Woodgrange Road, Forest Gate, in the 1891 census, and at 135 Woodgrange Road in the 1901 census as an employer working at home. By then his eldest son, John, was age 16. For a recent account of the history of Woodgrange Road, see E7 Now & Then: A wander down Woodgrange Road in 1900 - West Side, accessed 6 February 2021.

The full extent of Adams’ activities is revealed in his entry in the 1890 Essex Post Office directory, where he describes himself as ‘Wholesale & retail picture frame, artists’ stretcher frame, drawing board & looking glass manufacturer & artists’ colourman’. He supplied canvas to artists on the evidence of his canvas stamp, which reads: J ADAMS,/ Artists’ Material & Fine Art D[epot?]/ 135, WOODGRANGE ROAD/ FOREST GATE, E.

Probably soon after 1903 he gave up business in Forest Gate. He can be found in the 1911 census, now in Wolverhampton trading as a confectioner with his wife, Alice, and two sons, Albert and Augustus (who feature in the 1901 census). He may possibly be the John Adams of Harbourne, Birmingham, who died in 1920, with probate granted to his widow, Alice.

For an illustration of this business’s canvas stamps, see the guide British canvas, stretcher and panel suppliers’ marks: Part 2, A to D.

Added September 2017
Robert Addison, Hanover St, Long Acre, London 1756-1799, The Golden Head, Hanover St 1767, 16 Hanover St 1770-1799. Cabinet maker, organ builder, lay-figure maker, artificial limb and medical support instrument maker and truss maker.

Robert Addison (d.1799) appears to have been a man of considerable ingenuity. Starting as a cabinet maker, he turned his attention to organ building, lay figures, artificial limbs and other support contraptions and finally to truss making. He was trading in Hanover St, Long Acre, from 1756, as evidenced by Westminster rate books. In testimony as a witness in a case at the Old Bailey on 25 June 1788, he stated: ‘I live in Hanover-street, Long-acre, No. 16, a private house; I have kept a house there above thirty years.’ (Old Bailey proceedings, see Central Criminal Court). It has not proved possible to trace his birth or marriage but he had a son, John, as we know from his will, possibly the John Addison, son of Robert and Mary Addison, who was christened in 1767 at St Martin-in-the-Fields (IGI).

Addison took out insurance at the Golden Head in Hanover St, Long Acre, as a cabinet maker, organ builder and upholder in 1767 when it was recorded that he had a brick and timber workshop shed and yard behind his house (London Metropolitan Archives, Sun Fire Office policy registers, 178/249981).

In February 1769, soon after the foundation of the Royal Academy, Addison was asked to make a layman for the Academy having ‘the Motions of the Human Body, and to be compleat in every respect’ at a price of about £80 but not to exceed £100 (see Jane Munro, Silent Partners: Artist and Mannequin from Function to Fetish, 2014, p.51; with thanks to Richard Stephens for drawing my attention to the Royal Academy Council minutes). Several academicians examined the skeleton of the layman and proposed some changes, in particular in the supporting stand, as reported to the Academy’s Council in November 1769. The figure was ready two years later and was inspected in January 1772. The Academy’s council valued it at £90, a sum that Addison accepted after some consideration (Royal Academy Council minutes, 11 January 1772, kindly communicated by Richard Stephens). Almost 20 years later Addison proposed to the Academy that he should supply a female lay-figure but this was turned down (Munro, p.51).

Addison was known for making artificial limbs, as early as 1766, when the surgeon William Bromfeild ordered an artificial leg for the actor, Samuel Foote (Ian Kelly, Mr Foote's Other Leg, 2012, p.244). He also worked for Josiah Wedgwood, who recalled in 1788, ‘My first wooden leg was made by Mr. Addison, lay figure maker in Hanover street, Long acre: this was about 18 years ago...’ (Correspondence of Josiah Wedgwood 1781-1794, 1906, vol.3, p.70, Wedgwood to Dr Darwin).

In 1776 Addison advertised his artificial arms and legs with joints, his instruments to support and straighten weak or bended joints and other instruments to relax stiff joints, various other machines, fracture splints and steel spring trusses (St James’s Chronicle 3 February 1776 and other issues).

Anderson took an apprentice, James Roe, 1773 (National Archives, PRO IR 1/27, f.165). He appears in Westminster poll books in 1774 and 1780 as a cabinet maker and in 1784 and 1788 as a truss maker, always in Hanover St. He termed himself a truss maker when he took out cover with the Sun Insurance company for 16 Hanover St on 24 July 1787 (London Metropolitan Archives, 349/533517) and he again used the term, calling himself a truss maker of Hanover St, when making his will, dated 16 February and proved 30 October 1799 (PCC wills). He left his estate to his son, John.

Robert Addison should not be confused with the upholsterer and cabinet maker of the same name who, described as late of Duke St, near Oxford Road, was declared bankrupt in 1776 (London Gazette 21 September 1776). Nor should he be confused with the mason of the same name, also resident in Westminster.

Added March 2013, updated March 2020
Emilio Aickelin, Via 22 Marzo no. 2378, Venice. Retail artists' supplier, stationer, etc.

Continental suppliers used by British-based artists when abroad are treated in summary detail in this resource. Emilio Aickelin was originally from Württemberg in southern Germany. He and his wife, Berta, fell in love with Venice on their honeymoon and subsequently settled there, opening a shop selling articles for artists. Aickelin’s wife continued the business, which became a meeting place for artists, including Emma Ciardi and Alessandro Milesi (information kindly supplied by Bruna Aickelin through the Galleria Il Capricorno, Venice, February 2013). With Giuseppe Biasutti (qv), Aickelin was one of two artists’ suppliers listed in Venice in John Murray’s Handbook for Travellers in Northern Italy in 1897.

Emilio Aickelin’s trade card, inserted in a copy of Lefranc & Cie’s trade catalogue, Fabbrica di Colori e Vernici, 1902, advertised Winsor & Newton’s artists’ materials, writing materials, ‘articoli per belle arti’, among many other products (reproduced in John Singer Sargent’s suppliers of artists’ materials).

Further research is required into the history of this business. A related or successor business, Aickelin & Terni, traded from S. Marco, Merceria dell’Orologio 297. It used its trade label, perhaps dating to the 1920s or 1930s, with ARS in large letters, to advertise in English and German, ‘Oil Paintings, Water Colours, Post Cards and Venetian Souvenirs’ (Picture Frame labels blog at, accessed 20 January 2020).

Materials used by artists from Britain: Louisa Starr Canziani used small panels from Emilio Aickelin for two of her Italian views, dated to 1875-7 but perhaps rather later (both Birmingham Museums Trust). They are The Village of Cairate, Lombardy, stamped inside a rectangle with angled corners: ‘Venezia – Venedig’ (above palette), ‘Via .. [M]…. [2]37[8]/ in Nächster Nähe Bauer-Grünwald’ (below palette), ‘EMILIO AICKELIN/ WINSOR & NEWTON’S ARTISTS MATERIALS/ WRITING MATERIALS/ ARTICOLI PER BELLE ARTI/ …/ …/ …/ VENEZIA/ Via 22 MARZO/ N. 2378/ …’ (within palette) and Fountain in a Garden, Cairate, stamped within palette containing a tree-like device: ‘EMILIO AICKELIN/ Via 22 Marzo N. 2378/ VENEZIA’ (photographs courtesy of Cathy Proudlove). The latter stamp is very similar to that on a panel by the Australian artist, E. Phillips Fox, Venetian boats, 1906-7, stamped within a palette: EMILIO AICKELIN/Via 22 Marzo N. 2578/VENEZIA (National Gallery of Victoria).

John Singer Sargent used watercolour paper from Emilio Aickelin for Sky, c.1907, a laminate on board (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, see S.L. Herdrich and H.B. Weinberg, American drawings and watercolors in the Metropolitan Museum of Art: John Singer Sargent, 2000, p.294). It is worth mentioning a sketchbook by Claude Monet with Aikelin’s delightful label (Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris), a label which is also found on the stretcher of Monet’s Venice paintings, San Giorgio Maggiore, 1908 (National Museum of Wales, A2488, information from Kate Lowry, March 2013) and Venice, Palazzo Dario, 1908 (Art Institute of Chicago, see Monet Paintings and Drawings at the Art Institute of Chicago | Cat. 45 Venice, Palazzo Dario, 1908

John Airey, Keswick, see Brookman & Langdon

Added September 2023
Daniel Alder 1829-1855, Daniel Alder & Son 1855-1861. At 89 High St, Cheltenham 1833-1842, 8 Montpellier Avenue, Cheltenham 1840-1841, 1 Promenade, Cheltenham 1841-1861. Stationer, bookseller, printseller, toy seller and artists’ supplier.

Daniel Alder, the son of Thomas and Martha Alder, was baptised at Prestbury in Gloucestershire in 1798. He married Mary Ann Bice at All Souls, Marylebone, London in 1826. In census records he can be found as a stationer at 1 Promenade in Cheltenham. In 1841 with his wife Mary and eight children, in 1851 as employing two men and two boys, with his wife Mary Ann, a teacher of drawing, his son George, age 23, and nine younger children, and in 1861, now described as a bookseller and stationer, with his wife and five children, including a son, Daniel, age 23, stationer assistant. He died age 65 in 1863.

Alder advertised in 1833 that he had opened premises at 89 High St in Cheltenham for the sale of stationery, prints, materials for oil painting, watercolours and miniatures, with drawings let out to copy, also offering instruction in oil painting, watercolours, drawing and sketching (Cheltenham Chronicle 7 February 1833). He took out a lengthy pre-Christmas advertisement in 1840 from 89 High St and 8 Montpellier Avenue, Cheltenham, featuring his stock of drawing materials but more especially his collection of works of art, annuals and Christmas presents, including illustrated works, pocket books and almanacs, also offering book binding and instruction in drawing by his wife (Cheltenham Chronicle 3 December 1840).

In 1842 Alder advertised his removal to 1 Promenade, referring to his selection of articles for stationery, the fine arts, school literature, etc, especially his stock of toys (Cheltenham Looker-on 26 March 1842). Later the same year he advertised as a bookseller, stationer and printseller, featuring his stock including English and French stationery, drawing materials, also drawings by the best masters for sale or hire (Cheltenham Chronicle 15 December 1842). He continued to advertise in this way in 1843, again offering instruction in watercolours and drawings by his wife (Cheltenham Examiner 22 November 1843). Various members of the family offered drawing classes in subsequent years. By 1852 he was claiming that his business had been established in 1829 (Cheltenham Chronicle 1 January 1852). His son, George Edward Alder, advertised the opening of his photographic rooms at his father’s address in 1854, where heliotype portraits could be seen (Cheltenham Looker-on 24 June 1854).

In 1855, Alder’s son, John, joined the business. For the next two years, Daniel Alder & Son’s advertising extended to perambulators; the business being described as stationers, dressing case, work box and desk maker, importers of foreign toys and fancy goods (Cheltenham Examiner 19 September 1855). Daniel partnership with his son, John, trading as Alder & Son, stationers, booksellers, toy merchants and fancy good repository, was dissolved in 1861 (London Gazette 17 September 1861), with Daniel continuing in business and John setting up at 20 Promenade Villas with a stock of fancy goods, toys, archery and cricket, etc (Cheltenham Examiner 16 October 1861). Daniel’s wife died shortly thereafter and he himself fell ill (Cheltenham Examiner 27 November 1861). Further, both he and his son were bankrupted at this time (London Gazette 26 November 13 December 1861). Immediately thereafter two other sons, George and Daniel junr set up as a stationery and fancy depot at 20A Promenade Villas, announcing that a photographic studio and gallery would be added to the premises (Cheltenham Examiner 11 December 1861). The father, Daniel, died in January 1863 (Cheltenham Examiner 21 January 1863).

A subsequent partnership between George Edward and Daniel junr trading as Alder Brothers, fancy stationers and photographers, at 20 Promenade Villas, Cheltenham, had an account with Roberson, from this address, 1862-5 (Woodcock 1997). The partnership was dissolved in 1865 (London Gazette 15 September 1865), with George Edward Alder continuing to trade as a photographer at this address.

Trade in artists’ materials: Artists’ materials formed only a part of the Alder business. Daniel Alder, followed by Daniel Alder & Son, had an account with Roberson, 1830-65, from 25 Winchcomb St, Cheltenham, and then from High St and Promenade (Woodcock 1997). In 1855 Alder & Son advertised artists’ materials including drawing papers, prepared canvas for oil painting, oil colours in tubes, varnishes, watercolours in tubes, cakes and cups, drawing pencils, brushes etc (Cheltenham Examiner 19 September 1855). Alder’s trade label, perhaps dating to c.1841-55, reads, ‘From D. Alder’s Establishment for water and oil colours, materials for drawing, painting, &c. 1, Promenade, Cheltenham (repr. British canvas, stretcher and panel suppliers’ marks. Part 12, England outside London on this website).

Edward Allen (d.1854), see Edward Powell

Updated March 2022
William Allen 1778-c.1820, William Allen & Sons 1819-1825, M.H. & J.W. Allen 1825-1831, Mark Allen by 1832-1862, Mark Allen & Co 1863-1879 or later. At 88 Dame St, Dublin 1778-1786, 32 Dame St 1786-1835, 62 William St 1836-1837, 84 Grafton St 1838, 12 Lower Ormond Quay 1840, 12 Westland Row by 1845-1879 or later. Map and printseller, print publisher, later also looking glass warehouse, photographer by 1879.

William Allen (d.1825) was a leading Dublin map and printseller, who succeeded the printseller, Richard Bushell, at 88 Dame St. He was also an occasional publisher of caricatures and mezzotints from 88 Dame St (see, for example, BM Satires nos 5542-3, J. Chaloner Smith, British Mezzotinto Portraits, vol.3, 1880, p.1045, vol.4, 1882, pp.1470, 1478, and British Museum collection database). Allen’s trade label from 32 Dame St, his later address, with a shield set between putti, advertised his business as a ‘MAP & Print Warehouse’.

Allen was an early agent for Reeves’s new cake watercolours. In 1781 he advertised, ‘Drawing Materials of all Sorts... Oil Colours ground and tied in Bladders, Water Colours in boxes, shell and drops. Black Lead and Hair Pencils, very fine Indian Ink, Paletts, Palett Knives, Ivory's for Miniature, Crayons, Port Crayons, Chalks, coloured, natural and Blue Paper, English and French Papers for drawing on... also Messrs. Reeve’s genuine new-invented Cake Colours... for which they received the premium from the Royal Society of Arts in London, to be had in Boxes... and in single Cakes, one shilling and one penny each. Messrs. Reeve’s Letter appointing Allen their Agent in Dublin, for vending their Colours, may be seen at his Shop.’ (Dublin Evening Post 15 December 1781).

Allen continued to stock drawing and artists’ materials, advertising in 1789 ‘imported good black lead pencils, also fine wire wove drawing papers'. Also in 1789, he advertised artists' materials in an illustrated drawing book which he published (The Student's Treasure: A New Drawing Book, Dublin, 1789). He was later listed in the catalogue of Smith, Warner & Co (qv), London, as stocking their artists’ materials, c.1811-12.

William Allen died in 1825. He was succeeded by his sons, M.H. & J.W. Allen. The subsequent business of Mark Allen, later Mark Allen & Co had an account with Roberson, 1832-69 (Woodcock 1997). J. William Allen advertised his Repository of Fine Arts in 1835 (Dublin Evening Packet 20 June 1835).

Sources: Mary Pollard, A Dictionary of Members of the Dublin Book Trade 1550-1800, 2000, pp.6-7, to which this account is indebted; Laurence Worms and Ashley Baynton-Williams, British Map Engravers: A Dictionary of Engravers, Lithographers and Their Principal Employers to 1850, 2011, p.17 (for William Allen’s date of death and the identification of partnership changes as occurring in 1825 and 1831); Wilson's Dublin directories, 1802, 1820, and other directories. For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.

John Allnutt, Clapham. Wine merchant and art collector.

John Allnutt (1773-1863) made a present to John Constable of three sorts of Ultramarine brought from France, 1825 (Cove 1991 p.507; Beckett 1966 pp.84-5).

Updated March 2021
Albert Alston, 9 Grimshaw St, Burnley, Lancashire by 1892-1896 or later, 52 New Bond St, London W 1906-1908, 36 Albemarle St 1907-1908, The Alston Gallery, 310 Regent St 1908-1919. Artists’ materials dealer. From 1920 photographic materials dealer, 50 South Moulton St W1.

The Alstona painting technique (‘Alston's Method of Crystoleum’) was aimed at the recreational market (‘women of cultivated tastes’ are specifically identified in their advertising). As early as 1892 Albert Alston published a catalogue from Burnley, Lancashire, describing his method (Alston’s New Process of Crystoleum Painting, see Carlyle 2001 p.29 n.8); this method presumably related to one promoted by A. Caspar’s Original Crystoleum Company in about 1882 (Carlyle 2001 p.27; 2nd ed. of Alberta Caspar’s publication, c.1883, copy in British Library, YA.1996.a.9755).

Albert Alston (1859-1902) was listed in the 1881 census as a schoolmaster’s assistant, age 21, born and living in Ribchester, Lancashire. He left Ribchester for Burnley in 1884 (Preston Guardian 13 September 1884). He married Martha Proctor in Burnley in 1889. He was described in 1896 as a teacher of bookkeeping, shorthand, typewriting, painting in oil and water, crystoleum painting etc (P. Barrett & Co’s General & Commercial Directory of Burnley). In the 1901 census he can be found in Burnley as a schoolmaster, age 41, with his wife, Martha, and two daughters. He died in Burnley in March the following year leaving effects worth only £68. His wife Martha came to London some time before 1906 and promoted the business. In the 1911 census she was listed in Willesden, London, as Alstona Painting Dealer and employer, together with her two daughters.

Materials for the technique were advertised in The Year's Art (1908-12). Alston’s catalogue and instruction book (Guide to Alston Painting, January 1910, 3rd ed., 68pp) described the process as a method of transferring a photographic print onto a convex glass, and then rendering it transparent, thus forming a basis for the painting, the object being to so execute the painting, that, when finished, no trace of the photograph may be discerned.

For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.

*H. Reeve Angel & Co 1912-1921, H. Reeve Angel & Co Ltd 1922-1971. At110 Fenchurch St, London EC 1912,15 New Bridge St EC 1913-1918, 9 Bridewell Place EC4 1918-1964, 14 New Bridge St 1965-1971. Papermakers’ agents.

H. Reeve Angel initially shared premises with Frederick George Angel & Co, starches and chemicals, at 110 Fenchurch St. He advertised as sole United Kingdom representative for ‘Desvernay & Cie. Grandsons and Successors to Conte & Cie., Paris’, featuring their crayons, pencils, etc; also Canson papers (The Year's Art 1914). The business advertised over many years as sole representative for J. Whatman papers, ‘As used by the foremost artists for more than a century and a half’ (The Studio 13 April 1923; see also The Studio December 1950).

Henry Reeve Angel (1873-1934) was born in Richmond, Surrey, in 1873. In census records, Harry Reeve Angel, as he was known, was listed in 1901 in Mitcham as a Commercial Traveller Paper trade, and in 1911 in Streatham as a paper merchant with his wife and three children. He is said to have established his own business in 1908, initially as United Kingdom agents for a Finnish newsprint company. He died at 9 Bridewell Place in 1934, leaving an estate worth the considerable sum of £43,771.

In 1974, Reeve Angel International merged with W. & R. Balston and the brand name Whatman was incorporated to form Whatman Reeve Angel Ltd.

Updated March 2020
The Anglo-American Art Colour Co Ltd 1890-1894, The Art Colour Co 1895-1901. At St Stephen’s Avenue, Uxbridge Rd, Shepherd's Bush, London W by 1892-1896, Anchor Works, 5-7 Johnson St, Notting Hill Gate 1897-1901. Artists’ materials manufacturers.

The Anglo-American Art Color Co Ltd was formed in 1890 ‘to carry on the sale of colors, paints, varnishes, oils and all other materials… employed in the color trade and generally the manufacture and sale of artists’ materials’ (National Archives, BT 31/4854/32209). At the same time, Henry Conrad Sanders (1849-1914), a partner in H.G. Sanders & Son (qv), collapsible tube manufacturers, sold his patents for ‘improvements in boxes or cases chiefly designed for holding collapsible tubes’ to the Anglo-American Art Color Co Ltd, of which he was the principal shareholder.

The business advertised in 1893 as manufacturers of the finest artists' materials, London, Paris, New York and Melbourne, referring to their depot at 26 Alfred Place West, adjoining South Kensington Station (The Year's Art 1893, where Kingham & Co (qv) was also advertising from the same address in Alfred Place). The business does not feature in Katlan’s directory of New York artists’ colourmen and supply firms (Katlan 1987).

The Anglo-American Art Color Co Ltd was wound up voluntarily, as a result of a resolution passed in June 1893, with Henry Conrad Sanders as liquidator (London Gazette 20 June 1893, 22 May 1894; National Archives, BT 34/716/32209 for liquidation papers). The most significant payment made in winding up the business, £606.15s, was to H.G. Sanders & Son in July 1893; there were also payments to Lewis Berger & Sons (qv), G.H. Saunders (qv) and Tillyer & Co (see under John Sherborn).

The business’s stock-in-trade, plant, fixtures, goodwill etc were sold to Henry Richards of Shepherd’s Bush, and presumably formed the basis for the successor business, which advertised from 1895 as the Art Colour Co (The Year's Art 1895-7), featuring Kensington Art Oil Colours in 1896 and 1897. Arthur Harrison was recorded as manager in 1892 and 1896. The business was listed as ‘The Art Color Co. (late Anglo-American)’ from 1895. Its canvas mark took the form of a double oval, lettered in the outer ring ‘ART COLOR Co LONDON W’, and in the centre ‘Anchor Works Johnson St’ (Proudlove 1996), see illustration in the guide British canvas, stretcher and panel suppliers’ marks: Part 2, A to D.

For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.

Artists Alliance Ltd, see Kensington Fine Art Society

Artists’ Color Manufacturing Co,
see C.F. Maret & Co Ltd

Updated September 2017, restructured May 2023
Giovanni Arzone, London by 1828, 54 Dean St, Soho 1830-1837, 5 Hyde St, Bloomsbury 1838, 35 Lisle St, Leicester Square 1838-1839, also at other addresses (see below). Manufacturing artists’ colourman.

Giovanni Arzone (d.1841) was a leading maker and wholesale supplier of Ultramarine in the 1820s and 1830s. ‘John Arzone’ married Maria Grant at Holy Trinity, Coventry, in August 1829. While in Dean St, London, Giovanni and Maria Arzone had three children christened at St Anne Soho, a son, Giovanni in 1830, and two daughters, Joanna in 1832 and Maria in 1834, both of whom died young. Giovanni Arzone, artists’ colourman, late of 5 Hyde St, Bloomsbury, and formerly of 54 Dean St, Soho, then of Praed St, Paddington, and of Cumming St, Pentonville, then of 8 Grove St, Lissson Grove, was subject to procedures as an insolvent debtor in 1838 (London Gazette 23 January 1838).

Following Arzone’s appearance as an insolvent debtor, he appears to have tried to establish a trade outside London, advertising in Bradford that his colours were available from Chevalier Anthony Bernasconi de la Barré at 20 Darley St, Bradford (Bradford Observer 21 March, 28 March, 11 April 1839). He described himself as from Milan, Rome, Paris and London, a colourman to artists, and claimed to have ‘a splendid assortment of the most brilliant genuine Ultramarine, manufactured and prepared by himself… from the finest Oriental Lapis-lazuli’. He went on to denigrate the ‘ficticious French Ultramarine, which becomes black after being exposed to the atmosphere’. He offered ultramarine in different qualities, watercolour boxes, cake colours including Harding’s tints, ‘Mineral Grey for Oil’ prepared only by himself from lapis-lazuli, French brushes and pencils including Conté crayons, black lead pencils, colour pencils and black Italian chalk pencils, powder colours, easels, primed cloths, prepared panels and millboards. Examples of his watercolour cakes are illustrated at The Virtual Museum of Watercolor.

Arzone died in January 1841 and his wife Maria, age 34, two months later. It would seem that the Arzones were poisoned, according to a report in the medical literature of the time, ‘either from the slow inhalation of the fine powder used in the preparation of colours, or from their introduction into food through want of cleanliness’ (Alfred S. Taylor, On poisons in relation to medical jurisprudence and medicine, Philadelphia, 1848, p.51, accessed through Google Books, based on a report, unexamined, in Medical Gazette, vol.30, p.326). To quote, ‘The family, consisting of the father, mother, and three children, were in good health up to the evening of December 30, 1840. On January 1, 1841, the father, a manufacturer of colours, was suddenly taken ill with griping pains and purging, which never ceased until death…. He died on the 20th January…. The lungs and pleura presented strong evidence of inflammation sufficient to account for death. The three children, as well as the mother, after suffering from somewhat similar symptoms, died… The symptoms and appearances were in some respects compatible with the hypothesis of chronic poisoning. There was no doubt that he employed the arsenical cobalt ore… in the preparation of a kind of ultramarine; and possibly, as it was suggested at the time, impalpable dust in the preparation of this substance may have given rise to the symptoms’.

Trade as a colourman: From the ledgers of Charles Roberson & Co, then trading as Roberson & Miller, it is clear that Arzone was a significant supplier of ultramarine, supplying some £120 of Ultramarine to the business in 1828-9, among other transactions (Hamilton Kerr Institute, MS 148-1993). Arzone held a purchase account with Roberson from 30 April 1829 to 31 October 1839 (Woodcock 1997). These accounts require more detailed exploration to gain a fuller understanding.

Arzone supplied colours, including ‘extremely fine’ ultramarine, to the American painter, John James Audubon, in Britain in 1830, as is apparent from Audubon’s correspondence with his engraver, Robert Havell junr (Howard Corning, ed., Letters of John James Audubon 1826-1840, 1930, vol.1, pp.121, 123-4). Arzone was a subscriber to George Field’s Chromatography, 1835.

Arzone provided colours to the picture restorer, Charles George Danieli, in 1839, including ultramarine and madders to the value of 11s (City of Westminster Archives Centre, Acc. 1396/6; for Danieli see British picture restorers - D on this website).

Following Arzone’s death, Thomas Miller (qv), formerly of Roberson & Miller, but by now trading independently, claimed to have bought up all Arzone’s remaining stock (The Art-Union, January 1843, p.4).

Atherstone, Nottingham. Supplier of Brown Lake.

Benjamin West told Joseph Farington of the excellence of the Brown Lake made by Atherstone of Nottingham, 1813 (Farington vol.12, p.4389). Atherstone may be connected with Thomas Atherstone, silk-dyer and trimmer, or Hugh Atherstone and Son, silk-dyers, both listed in the 1815 Nottingham directory.

For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.

Added May 2023
John Ayres, 99 Chapter St, Vauxhall Bridge Road, Westminster, London by 1841-1854, 2 Albion Terrace, Grosvenor Road, Thames bank, London SW 1855-1876. Watercolour manufacturer, by 1858 artists’ colourman.

John Ayres (c.1816-1876) was a watercolour manufacturer. In the 1841 census he can be found in Chapter St in Westminster, age 25 (ages were rounded down to the nearest five in this census), occupation given as ‘art’, with Mary, age 60, possibly his mother. In 1844 he married Sarah Harvey of 15 Catherine St, Strand, at St Marylebone, when he was described as a water color manufacturer, age 29, with his father John described as an artists’ colorman and her father as Joseph Harvey, clothier. It was perhaps her brother, also Joseph Harvey (qv), who traded as a colourman at 15 Catherine St. In the 1871 census John Ayres was at 2 Albion Terrace, an artist, age 54, born Middlesex, with his wife Sarah, also 54, born Bradford, Wilts, and two lodgers. Ayres died at 2 Albion Terrace in April 1876, described as an artist colourman, with administration of his effects, worth under £800, granted to his widow, Sarah.

An example of one of Ayres’s watercolour cakes, marked J. AYRES/ LONDON, is illustrated in J. Duncan Macdonald, Early Water Colour Boxes, 2016, p.102.

Found a mistake? Have some extra information? Please contact Jacob Simon at [email protected].

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