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British picture framemakers, 1600-1950 - K

An online resource, launched in 2007, selectively updated twice yearly. Last updated March 2022. Contributions are welcome, to Jacob Simon at [email protected].

Introduction Resources and bibliography

[KI] [KN]

Contributed by Edward Town, January 2017
Jeremy Kellett (Killett, Kylett)(fl. 1622; d. in or before 1641), St Olave Bermondsey, London 1620, St Martin-in-the-Fields 1622-1631 and subsequently. Joiner and picture framemaker.

A joiner of St Olave Bermondsey and later St Martin-in-the-Fields, who married a woman named Catherine. His parentage is unknown, but there were other joiners with the same family name living in the parish of St Olave Bermondsey in the second half of the 16th century, most notably the Citizen and Joiner, Robert Kellett (c.1534-1612). The first record to Kellett is found in the parish register of St Olave Bermondsey with the baptism of his son James on 31 October 1620 (London Metropolitan Archives, P71/OLA/009). Shortly afterwards, Kellet moved to the parish of St Martin-in-the-Fields in Westminster, where the parish register records the baptisms of his daughters Cecelia (8 December 1622), Elizabeth (14 January 1626/7), Elizabeth (3 July 1629) and his twin sons Balthazar and John (9 January 1630/1), and the burials of Cecilia (25 August 1625), James (7 September 1625), Alice (21 January 1626/7) and Balthazar and John (24 January 1630/1) (Kitto 1936, see Sources below).

In 1631 Kellet collaborated with the joiner Peter Penson in the furnishing of St Paul Covent Garden for the Earl of Bedford, for which he was paid the substantial sum of £272.12s.8d (LMA E/BER/CG/E/07/10/1, f.41). Perhaps in recognition of this work, he had possession of a plot of land partly in Covent Garden and partly in Long Acre where St Martin’s Lane meets Long Acre, the boundaries of which were the subject of a disagreement heard at the Court of Chancery in October 1638 (National Archives, C78/370 19).

A bill for work from 16 June to 6 August 1633 in the Account Book of Nicholas Stone records that Kellett was paid £1.6s for a ‘grete picture frame’ ten feet one inch long and 4 feet 11 inches wide, ‘with gret scrues and a handell to them’, along with another picture frame five feet and a half by three feet two inches wide, for which he was paid 10s and which were supplied to William Paston at Oxnead Hall in Norfolk (Spiers 1919, pp.96-7, see Sources below). He also supplied a ‘great case’ to carry these frames in. These frames were for paintings by George Portman (fl. 1626; living 1639) of a Landscape of London (£7 plus £2 for gilding the frame), and ‘a little landskip with perspective’ (£2.10s plus 8s for gilding the frame).

Nicholas Stone junr records in his diary that Kellett travelled with Nicholas Stone senr, Stone’s wife, Stone’s cousin Gabriel and his wife, Mr and Mrs Hearne and Nicholas Stone junr to Gravesend on 29 March 1638. The next day the party went to Chatham where Nicholas Stone junr left the party (Spiers 1919, p.158). Nicholas Stone senr’s will of 30 January 1640/1 stated that he owned a house in the possession of Katherine Kellett widow, in the parish of St Martin-in-the-Fields.

Sources: John V. Kitto (ed.), The Register of St. Martin-in-the-Fields London 1619–1636, vol. 66, Harleian Society Registers, 1936; Walter Lewis Spiers, ‘The Note-Book and Account Book of Nicholas Stone’, Walpole Society, vol.7, 1919.

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

See British artists' suppliers on the National Portrait Gallery website.

Updated September 2014
Daniel Kennedy
, Lisle St, Leicester Square, London, 1806-1812, 7 Old Lisle St (also listed as New Lisle St) 1811, 51 Rathbone Place, Oxford St 1813-1817, Castle St, 1814-1820, Lisle St 1819-1824. Carver and gilder.

A little-known business, which advertised looking glasses, manufactured on the premises and, for artists, 'a large assortment of plain and ornamental picture frames in the various sizes of canvas' (The Times 19 December 1815, 4 January 1816). Kennedy is perhaps the Daniel Kennedy who married Ann Moore in 1804 and had seven children between 1805 and 1820, christened at St Anne Soho. He can found in Lisle St, 1806-12 and 1819-24, and apparently in Castle St, 1814-20, according to rate books and land tax assessments. He was not the only man of his name in London and further research is required. At this stage it is not possible to link him with the Daniel Kennedy in Brook St, 1788 and 1795, and there is some doubt as to whether he was in Castle St or Rathbone Place.

Updated March 2020
John Kesson 1872, Kesson & Macdonald 1873-1877, John Kesson 1877-1915 or later. At 7 Flourmill Brae, Aberdeen 1872, 53 St Nicholas St 1873-1880, 28 Diamond St 1881-1915 or later. Carvers and gilders, picture framemakers.

John Kesson (c.1840-1921) came from a modest background and may have lost his father at an early age since he appears as a boy in the 1851 Aberdeen census in the household of his grandmother, Jane Kesson, a cow feeder, and in the 1861 census as a cabinet maker, age 21, living with his mother, Margaret Kesson, a servant. He may have been related to James Kesson, book canvasser, listed in Aberdeen in the 1870 Post Office directory. John Kesson can be traced in Aberdeen in later censuses: in 1871 as a cabinet maker, age 31, in 1881 as a carver and gilder employing five men and four boys, in 1891 as a carver and gilder and in 1901 as a picture framer, born Aberdeen, with a wife and two children, including a son, John E. Kesson, age 20. His will was proved in 1921, with an estate of £5386 (National Records of Scotland, SC1/36/184, accessed through ScotlandsPeople; see also The Scotsman 19 May 1921).

John Kesson was first recorded in business in 1872 at 7 Flourmill Brae, going into partnership the following year with Robert Macdonald, trading as Kesson & Macdonald at 53 St Nicholas St. On their trade label, Kesson & Macdonald described themselves as 'Carvers & Gilders, Looking Glass, Picture Frame and Cornice Manufacturers', also offering artists' colours and drawing materials, pictures cleaning, regilding etc. This partnership was dissolved in August 1877 (Edinburgh Gazette 31 August 1877). The business had an account with the artists' suppliers, Roberson’s, 1873-1908, trading as Kesson & Macdonald and then as John Kesson, from 53 St Nicholas St and 28 Diamond St (Woodcock 1997). Kesson advertised his removal to Diamond St in 1881 (Aberdeen Journal 23 March 1881).

The business framed various portraits by Sir George Reid (Simon 1996 p.177), including Samuel Smiles, 1870s (National Portrait Gallery, label of Kesson & MacDonald), William Forbes Skene, 1888, Samuel Smiles, 1891, and Prof. David Masson, 1896 (all Scottish National Portrait Gallery, label of John Kesson, information on Masson from Keith Morrison), as well as Dr Edmond of Kingswell, 1889 (Aberdeen Journal 3 December 1889). John Kesson supplied the frame for Robert Brough’s Kathleen, 1898 (Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums, label of John Kesson, information from Jennifer Melville) and Arthur Melville’s A Street Scene, from 28 Diamond St (see Simon 1997 p.431).

For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.

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

See British artists' suppliers on the National Portrait Gallery website.

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

See British artists' suppliers on the National Portrait Gallery website.

*Thomas Kingham 1796-1808, Thomas Kingham & Son 1808-1828. At Long Acre, London 1796-1797, 2 Long Acre 1799-1828. Painter and gilder.

Thomas Kingham (c.1750-1817) can be identified with the individual of this name, the son of John Kingham deceased, who was apprenticed to Edward Crace of the Painters’ Company in 1764 (Webb 2003 p.38). He may be the Thomas Kingham whose wife, Mary, gave birth to eight children between 1779 and 1795, christened at St Martin-in-the-Fields, including Thomas (b.1784) and George (b.1788). Thomas Kingham, painter, took out insurance with the Sun Fire Office from 2 Long Acre in 1812, and it was presumably his son of the same name who took out insurance in 1818 and 1825 (London Metropolitan Archives, Sun Fire Office policy registers, 459/867099 & 871009, 477/940959, 504/1031004). Thomas Kingham of Long Acre died in 1817, age 67, and was buried at St Martin-in-the-Fields on 11 December that year. In his will, made 3 December and proved 30 December 1817, Thomas Kingham ‘the elder’, painter and gilder of St Martin-in-the-Fields, named his sons as George and Thomas.

Like many of his contemporaries, Kingham was an occasional customer of the specialist composition ornament maker, George Jackson (qv), who supplied him with composition ornament to decorate a frame in 1816 (see Jackson account book, V&A Archive of Art and Design, AAD/2012/1/2/1).

Kingham framed the Raphael cartoons at Hampton Court in Maratta frames, probably for George III, for £500 at an uncertain date (W.H. Pyne, The History of Royal Residences, vol.2, 1819, pp.77-8). He carried out work repairing and regilding picture and mirror frames at Hatfield House, Hertfordshire, at a cost of more than £150 in 1804 (DEFM). An earlier framemaker, also Kingham, worked from Long Acre, claiming to be framemaker to George III in 1763 (Heal 1972 p.100).

For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.

Martin Knapp (d.1845?),see Bielefeld & Knapp

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



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