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British picture framemakers, 1600-1950 - E

An online resource, launched in 2007, selectively updated twice yearly. Last updated March 2020. Contributions are welcome, to Jacob Simon at [email protected].

Introduction Resources and bibliography

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Henry Eade (d.1784),see William Saunders

*John Eckford 1811-1828, John Eckford & Son 1826-1828, Charles J. Eckford 1826-1843. At 17 Water Lane (or Water St), Blackfriars, London 1811-1834, 48 Lothbury 1826-1828, 23 Fleet St 1833-1834, 45 Fleet St (‘corner of Mitre Court’) 1835-1843. Carvers and gilders, looking glass and picture framemakers, picture dealers and restorers.

This business was carried on over two generations. It was founded by John Eckford (c.1771-1840). His son, Charles John Eckford (1795-1845), entered into a short-lived partnership with him in the mid-1820s, before taking over the business. Another son, Henry George Eckford (1807-93), traded as a picture dealer (see British picture restorers on the National Portrait Gallery website). Another individual, also named John Eckford, probably unrelated, traded as a carver and gilder in the Soho area from about 1838 (see below).

John Eckford seems to have begun business as a printseller at Crown Court, Salisbury Square in 1802, and it was at Crown Court that his son, Henry George, was born in 1807. John Eckford, sometimes listed simply as Eckford, took out insurance with the Sun Fire Office on 17 Water Lane, Brideswell Precinct, later described as 17 Water St, New Bridge St, as carver and gilder and picture framemaker, on six occasions from 1814 to 1832. He also insured other properties (DEFM).

Like many of his contemporaries, Eckford was a customer of the specialist composition ornament maker, George Jackson (qv), 1813-8, who made some frames for him and also supplied him with composition ornament for picture frames (Jackson account book, V&A Archive of Art and Design, AAD/2012/1/2/1). Jackson used one of Eckford’s own designs in supplying another maker as can be seen from his use of the term ‘Eckfords pattern’ in his account book in 1816.

In 1825, Eckford attended a meeting of more than fifty master carvers and gilders who resolved to resist the demands of journeymen for an increase in wages (The Times 30 June 1825). Eckford was also active as an art dealer: in an illuminating case in the Court of Exchequer, he was prosecuted for illegally importing foreign pictures (The Times 12 July 1824).

By 1826 the business was operating as John Eckford & Son but two years later the partnership between John and his son, Charles John, as carvers, gilders and picture dealers, of Water St, was dissolved (London Gazette 12 December 1828), with Charles John carrying on the business. John Eckford was buried at Norwood Cemetery, age 69, on 22 October 1840. In his lengthy will dated 5 June and proved 29 October 1840, John Eckford, gentleman of Panton Place, Walworth, referred to his various freeholds and a leasehold, appointing as executors his son, Henry George Eckford, picture dealer, and his son-in-law, George Gull.

Charles John Eckford was born in 1795, the son of John and Sarah Eckford, and was christened at St James Clerkenwell the same year. He and his wife, Maria, had several children, including Edwin and Frederick. He was listed in the 1841 census as a carver, age 45 (ages were rounded down to the nearest five in this census), with sons Frederick and Edwin, age 15. He was imprisoned for debt in 1843 (London Gazette 10 November and 12 December 1843). His death at Liverpool was announced in 1850, naming him as Charles Eckford, late of Fleet Street, age 55 (The Times 23 February 1850).

Like Charles M’Lean (qv), who operated from a few doors further along at 15 Fleet St, Charles John Eckford advertised extensively, offering to clean and restore old paintings and to supply rich ornamented picture frames at very similar prices to M’Lean (The Art-Union March 1840 p.47, May 1840 p.87; see Simon 1996 p.137). He claimed that his business had been established in 1792 (The Art-Union January 1842 p.18). He offered a printed 'Sheet of Drawings with numerous elegant Patterns', which would be sent anywhere in the country (example, 1840, British Museum, Dept of Prints and Drawing, I & J Smith/British XIXc Imp., repr. British Museum collection database); he used this sheet to advertise that he worked for the Corporation of the City of London, the Goldsmiths’, Stationers’ and Weavers’ companies and also for St Bartholomew’s, Bridewell and Bethlem hospitals and Sion College. He was paid £391.12s.6d for repairing and regilding frames for doors, mirrors and pictures at the new Goldsmiths’ Hall in 1835 (Roscoe 2009).

Sources: DEFM; London Metropolitan Archives, Sun Fire Office policy registers, vols 461, 480, 487, 491, 531. For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.

John Eckford 1838-1874. At 9 Little Compton St, Soho 1838-1839, 59 Greek St 1840-1847, not listed 1848-1850, 8 Rose St, Soho 1851-1874. Carver and gilder, framemaker, picture dealer and restorer.

John Eckford (c.1801-1867) was born in Scotland, according to census records, and appears to be unrelated to the John Eckford who died in 1840 (see above). In the 1841 census Eckford was listed as a carver and gilder, living in Somers Town, in 1851 as a master carver and gilder employing three men, age 49, living in Camden Town with nine children including a son, John, age 20, also a carver and gilder, in 1861 as age 60, living in Kentish Town with two sons James Robert, age 22, and Jeffrey, age 18, both carvers and gilders. He would appear to be the individual of this name who died in the Pancras district age 66 in 1867. However, directory listings at 8 Rose St continue to record John Eckford, perhaps his son, until 1874, after which the name was replaced by that of James Robert Eckford.

Added September 2019
Adam Elder, High Church parish, Edinburgh 1807, 37 North Bridge 1811-1813, 12 Greenside Place 1815, 1818-1826, 1827-1831, 9 Greenside St 1816-1818, 16 Greenside Place 1832, house 9 Greenside Place 1821-1829. Carver and gilder, print publisher, picture restorer.

Adam Elder was probably born in the 1780s. He should not be confused with the more or less contemporary Edinburgh silversmith of the same name (1791-1829). Described as a carver and gilder of High Church parish, Edinburgh, he married Janet Elder of St Andrew’s parish, daughter of Peter Elder, shoe maker, in 1807. She died in December 1828, described as age 37, the spouse of Adam Elder, carver and gilder and Freeman, from 9 Greenside Place, described as the mother of 11 sons and six daughters (New Scots Magazine, January 1829, p.104).

Although described as a ‘Freeman’, Elder was not an Edinburgh burgess. He was made bankrupt in 1826 (London Gazette 11 April 1826). As a result, his stock was advertised for sale by auction at 12 Greenside Place in June 1826 (The Scotsman 14 June, 28 June 1826). Featured in the sale were pier and chimney glasses, convex mirrors and dressing glasses, German and British plate glass, paintings and prints, picture frames, gold leaf, moulds and composition ornaments, fancy articles and drawing materials, canvas, brushes and colours. The bankruptcy papers summarily list his stocks of the above materials, including prepared canvas to the value of £6 and 16 prepared boards valued at 10s; these papers also refer to pattern frames (National Records of Scotland, CS236/E/5/1).

Elder appears to have gone on trading from 12 Greenside Place after his bankruptcy, unless this be his son of the same name. He used his invoice paper in 1827 to advertise mirrors of all sizes, drawing paper and materials, and paintings laid down on new canvas, cleaned and repaired (National Records of Scotland, NG3/5/23/38).

Adam Elder had a son by the same name and it is presumably this son, described as a carver and gilder of Green Side St, St Andrew’s parish, who married Helen Johnstone of the same place and parish in 1829. Adam junr, carver, gilder and print seller, can be found at 61 Princes Street in 1832. A carver and gilder by the name of Adam Elder can be found in the 1841 census, age given as 45 (ages were rounded down to the nearest five in this census) which may, or may not, relate to either father or son. The elusiveness of this family in available Church of Scotland records may suggest that they were nonconformist or catholic.

Elder’s suppliers: Elder’s bankruptcy records contains much information on those of his suppliers left unpaid at the time of his bankruptcy in 1826 (National Records of Scotland, CS236/E/5/1). Details of some of these suppliers are given here by location, and then by the size of the debt rounded down to nearest pound. In London: Shakespeare, Reed, Wainwright & Co, plate glass works, £622; Wilcoxon & Harding, looking glass manufacturers, £146; Gabriel Riddell, stationer, £92; Thomas and George Keat, brush makers, £85; George Jackson (qv), composition and ornament maker, £78; Yallop & Grace, oil and colourmen, £65; Rowney & Forster, colourmen, £48. In Birmingham: Thornley Son & Knight, varnish makers, £200. In Newcastle: Robert Cook, gold beater, £94. In Edinburgh: James Bell, deceased, wright, £220; John Mackay? framemaker, £65; John Watson, framemaker, £65, Wilson & Taylor, wrights, £59; John Bowie, linen manufacturer and draper, £29. For Yallop & Grace and Rowney & Forster, see British artists' suppliers on this website.

Framing, publishing and restoration work: Adam Elder was also a print publisher. His early publications includes mezzotint portraits by Charles Turner after Henry Raeburn, 1813-5. Later he sometimes published in cooperation with Colnaghi in London and Finlay (qv) in Glasgow.

Adam Elder repaired pictures for the University of Edinburgh in 1816 (Duncan Macmillan, The Torrie Collection, 1983, p.4). The Royal Institution in Edinburgh used Elder for picture framing work, 1821-9, paying him £50 in 1826 and further sums subsequently (National Records of Scotland, NG3/2/1; see also NG3/5/16/11, 14, NG3/5/23/38, NG3/5/51). The Royal Scottish Academy employed him, 1827-31 (information from Robin Rodger).

Elder’s bankruptcy papers provides a list of those owing him money in 1826 (National Records of Scotland, CS236/E/5/1). Just a few names are picked out here, focusing on larger debts (rounded down to the nearest pound) and readily identifiable names (additional details in brackets from Edinburgh directories): Hugh William Williams (landscape painter), £70; William Brodie of Brodie, £67; Lord Minto, Minto House, £40; Francis Wright (wholesale jeweller), Princes St, £33; Mr. Hamilton per Queen St ballrooms, £28; Sir John Hope, bart, £27; Mr. Simpson, painter, £24; Lord Caithness, £21; Lord Meadowbank, £18; Lord Ruthven, £14; Robert Miller, bookseller, £13; Miss Patrickson (portrait painter and teacher of drawing), King st, £13; Lady Shaw Stewart, £12; Captain Sandilands, Walker St, £11; Sir John Dalrymple, bart, £10; Mr Finlay, Castle Mains, Douglas, £10.

William Emmett (active 1660, died 1693?), London. Carver.

William Emmett (c.1640/1-1693?) was the son of the master bricklayer, Maurice Emmett, and older brother of Maurice Emmett junr (c.1646-94), Master Bricklayer in the Office of Works (Colvin 2008 p.358). He received his freedom as a member of the Joiners’ Company in 1660. At the age of about 30, he married Jane Browne at St Margaret Westminster on 12 October 1671 (N. Davenport, ‘A Note on the Emmetts’, Wren Society, vol.14, 1937, p.xxiii; see also Roscoe 2009). He was described as Sculptor to the Crown before Grinling Gibbons, but in fact may have been no more than acting deputy for his uncle, Henry Phillips, to whom he had been apprenticed (Vertue vol.1, p.129; Colvin 1976 p.29, see also Beard 1981 p.258). He was a carver in wood and stone, rather than a picture framer, but in the course of his work for the royal palaces at St James’s, Whitehall, Hampton Court and Kensington, 1680-93, he provided various picture frames.

At St James’s Palace, Emmett carved a 'ritch picktur frame wrought with flowers' to go over the altar of Queen Mary of Modena’s little oratory in 1680, as well as picture frames for the five overdoors in her bedroom; he also provided embellishments to the principal altar in the Queens’ Chapel (Colvin 1976 pp.234, 248).

At Whitehall Palace, he supplied picture frame mouldings to go over chimneys and doors in various rooms in 1685 and 1686 (Wren Society, vol.7, 1930, pp.98, 104, 114, 115, 121). For the Vane Room, he supplied a 'picture frame over the Chimney with 2 E[nrichments] oak leaves & acorns' at 2s.6d a foot, total £2.10s, perhaps a bunched leaf frame, and for the lobby by the Vane Room, a further four picture frames for overdoors. For the Privy Gallery Drawing Room over the chimney, he provided mouldings with two enrichments, 'twisted leaves & flowers and husks', at 3s a foot, total £5.12s.6d, and for the Queen's Great Bedchamber two overdoor frames with 'twisting leaves, flowers & husks' at £5.9s.2d.

At Hampton Court in 1690, he provided a 'large Italian picture frame moulding with 3 enrichments over 2 chimneys' for Queen Mary’s Water Gallery at £8.5s.8d, as part of a much larger commission over several years costing as much as £918 (Wren Society, vol.4, 1927, pp.25, 44, see also p.52).

At Kensington Palace, he supplied Italian moulding for a picture frame with two enrichments over the chimney in the Council Chamber in 1690 and picture framing over two doors in the Gallery, with four enrichments, raking leaves and husks in 1691, as well as other picture framing (Wren Society, vol.7, 1930, pp.153, 157, 178, 181).

At Chelsea Hospital in 1687 William Emmett was paid some £212 for his work, including £2.8s for 16 feet of picture frame for the chapel altarpiece at 3s a foot, together with cherubim heads and clouds over the altarpiece at £8, and in the Governor's parlour over the fireplace an elaborate, deeply undercut carved trophy surround, made up of military armour and weapons, ‘painfully wrought, finding Limewood’, with the royal cipher JR, at a cost of £30 (Wren Society, vol.19, 1942, pp.74, 77; for payment, see William A. Shaw (ed.), Calendar of Treasury Books, 1685-1689, 1923, p.1847).

Subsequently, his nephew, the amateur engraver and architectural draughtsman, William Emmett (1671-1736), engraved a series of views of St Paul’s Cathedral (Edward Croft-Murray and Paul Hulton, Catalogue of British Drawings: XVI & XVII Centuries, British Museum, 1960, p.304 for various Emmetts).

Sources: Beard 1981 p.258, where his dates are given as fl.1641-1700; Roscoe 2009 (with an extensive list of works). For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.

Updated September 2015
A. Ercolani by1920, A. Ercolani & Son by1922-1930, A. Ercolani & Sons Ltd 1931-1938.At 27 Claremont Road, Walthamstow, London E17 1922, 22 Bloomsbury Road 1927, 29 Claremont Road 1930, 27 Claremont Road 1931-1934, Walthamstow Avenue E4 1935-1938. Picture framemakers and wavy moulding manufacturers, from 1931 cabinet manufacturers.

Abdon Ercolani (1864-1957), a picture framemaker, undertook some work for the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, making and repairing ebony frames and some veneered in red tortoiseshell, also devising a way of making oval frames of this sort, according to his son’s autobiography (see below). Abdon Ercolani moved to London in about 1897 in search of work, and was joined by his family in 1898. He can be found in census records in Walthamstow as a worker rather than an employer, in 1901 as a cabinetmaker, age 37, as born Sant’Angelo in Vado (in the province of Urbino), and in 1911 as a manufacturer of wavy mouldings, living at 27 Claremont Road. Evidently he was born in about 1864 and moved to Florence by about 1896, according to the places of birth of his younger children as given in the 1901 census.

Abdon Ercolani applied for a patent for an ‘apparatus for producing undulated mould surfaces’ in 1910. It remains to be established when he set up in business independently but in any case it would seem to have been by 1922 when he supplied the frame for a picture now in the National Gallery of Victoria (see below). A. Ercolani & Son were listed as a wavy mouldings manufacturer in the telephone book in 1927 and 1930, but not in trade directories, while A. Ercolani & Sons Ltd were listed as cabinet manufacturers from 1931 to 1938. Abdon Ercolani would have been 65 in about 1929. Given that his death has not been traced in Britain, it is possible that he retired to Italy, leaving his sons to continue the business as cabinet manufacturers until the eve of the Second World War.

His son, Lucian Randolph Ercolani (1888-1976), did not work in framemaking or with his father but set up the Ercol furniture manufacturing business in the late 1940s and published an autobiography (A Furniture Maker: His Life, His Work and His Observations, 1975; for Ercol’s website, see, information from Judy Rudoe).

Framing work: When Dolman (qv) ceased business, the National Gallery’s Director, Sir Charles Holmes, turned to Ercolani to make some frames for the National Gallery, 1920-7, (National Portrait Gallery archive, NPG9/1/1/4-11). These frames were often in imitation tortoiseshell, including for Durer’s Father, 1920, and other early German and Netherlandish paintings, most of which have since been reframed. However, works by Jan van Eyck (NG 290) and Petrus Christus (NG 2593), both retain tortoiseshell frames with inner gilt moulding, which were possibly supplied by Ercolani (NPG9/1/1/6, 21 October 1922). The frame formerly on Geertgen tot Sint Jans’s Nativity at Night, has a circular label: A. ERCOLANI & SON./ 27, CLAREMONT/ ROAD,/ WALTHAMSTOW./ LONDON E 17. (information from Isabella Kocum, July 2015).

A. Ercolani & Son’s label from 27 Claremont Road, advertising the business as ‘Specialists in Waved Mouldings and Artistic Frames’, can be found on the reverse of the tortoiseshell ripple frame supplied in 1922 for Jan Steen’s Interior (National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, see Payne 2007 p.87). The business also supplied a wave moulded Dutch 17th-century style frame for the South Netherlandish Portrait of a Woman as Mary Magdalen (Chatsworth, see Nicolas Barker, The Devonshire Inheritance: Five Centuries of Collecting at Chatsworth, 2003, p.125).

Sources: Lesley Jackson, Ercol: furniture in the making, 2013, p.9 for the father’s life dates. For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.

*Jordan & Evans 1801-1809, Evans & Jordan 1814-1825, Jordan & Evans 1822-1825, William Evans 1825-1850, William & Philip Evans 1851-1907. At 18 Silver St, Golden Square, London 1801-1883, street renamed and numbered 1883, 37 Beak St 1884-1907. Carvers and gilders, later also picture restorers.

This business was carried on at the same premises throughout the 19th century, firstly by William Evans in partnership with Nathaniel John Jordan (qv), then on his own, then by his two sons, William and Philip, most notably working for the Marquess of Hertford, and then into the third and fourth generations.

According to their late 19th-century frame label, the Evans business was established in 1798 (information from Edgar Harden). William Evans took out insurance with the Sun Fire Office on 18 Silver St, jointly with Nathaniel John Jordan, in January 1801 and January 1805, and the two men took out separate policies on the premises in 1819. The partnership was variously described as Jordan & Evans and Evans & Jordan. The partnership between Jordan and Evans at 18 Silver St was dissolved in January 1825 (London Gazette 11 January 1825), when Jordan moved to Charlotte St. William Evans, carver, gilder and picture framemaker, took out insurance on 18 Silver St with the Sun Fire Office in 1829. The business also rented 8 and 9 Silver St at £35 a year in 1865 (The Times 15 February 1865).

In the next generation, it is easier to trace Philip Evans than William, presumably his brother. Philip Evans (b. c.1812), his son, Philip William Evans (c.1834-1894), and his grandson, Philip John Evans (b. c.1865), were all listed in census records, primarily as picture restorers. In 1851 father and son were living in Lambeth, in 1861 at 14 Leicester St, Westminster, in 1871 the father was living on the business premises at 18 Silver St and was additionally described as a framemaker, and in 1881 the father was no longer listed and the son, Philip William was now included with his own son, Philip J. Evans, age 16, already listed as a cleaner and restorer. In 1891 Philip William was living on the business premises at 37 Beak St. He died in 1894, leaving effects worth £1435, with administration of his estate given to his son, Philip John Evans, picture restorer. This son was recorded in the 1901 census as a picture restorer at Nidd Hall, Yorkshire, where he was probably working. The business was followed at 37 Beak St in 1910 by H.J. Spiller (qv).

William Henry Evans (1828-1910?) was born and christened in 1828, the son of William Evans, carver and gilder of Silver St, and his wife Jemima, and the the eldest of seven children. Described as a gilder of 6 Museum St, he married Sophia Dalan at St George Bloomsbury in 1856. He was listed with Philip William Evans at 18 Silver St in 1876 (London Gazette 26 February 1876). In censuses, he appears in 1881 at 20 Elizabeth St as a framemaker, age 53, employing five men and a boy, and in 1891 and 1901 in Wandsworth with his wife Sophia, in 1891 as a carver and gilder and in 1901 as a retired picture restorer. He is probably to be identified with the William Henry Evans who died age 82 in Wandsworth in 1910.

Framing work: At Hertford House the 4th Marquess had almost a hundred pictures reframed in the late 1850s by W. & P. Evans using a standard fluted pattern with large acanthus mitre leaves somewhat in the French manner. Evans’s considerable bills are dated April 1857 (£258.6s) and February 1859 (£459.10s); the latter included a charge of £20 for 192 leaden and wood tablets and a credit for the sale of old frames (Simon 1996 p.202). It was Lord Hertford’s agent, the picture dealer, Samuel Mawson, who seems to have introduced him to this business, as Hertford’s letter to Mawson in April 1855 reveals, ‘I tried to find your frame maker & trotted up & down Silver St for that purpose. I found nothing but a very dirty street full of butchers & nothing like a framer.’ (Ingamells 1981 p.64; for Mawson see British picture restorers on the National Portrait Gallery website).

W. & P. Evans provided advice at Lincoln's Inn on Hogarth’s large painting, Paul before Felix, 1876-7, prior to its removal from the old hall; a new frame was then provided by Alfred Mucklow (qv) (Lincoln’s Inn Archives ref.C2a241 part 2, p.74, Treasurers’ Accounts, information kindly supplied by Josephine Hutchings, archivist, and Frances Bellis, assistant librarian).

Sources: DEFM, quoting Sun Fire Office records (London Metropolitan Archives, 419/712742, 431/772317, 483/962590, 521); Ingamells 1985 p.432, quoting Evans’s invoice for making fluted frames for pictures at Manchester House. For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.

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

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