British picture framemakers, 1600-1950 - W
An online resource, launched in 2007, selectively updated twice yearly. Last updated March 2020. Contributions are welcome, to Jacob Simon at [email protected].
Aug. Walker (occasionally as Augustus Walker),118 New Bond St, London W from 1897-1922, trading as Walker’s Galleries by 1908, Walker’s Galleries Ltd by 1928-1962. Artists' colourmen, art dealers, picture framemakers, subsequently fine art publishers.
See British artists' suppliers on the National Portrait Gallery website.
James Walker, 15 Duke St, Edinburgh 1845-1851 (in 1851 listed as his home), Assembly Rooms, George St 1851-1854, 36 Hanover St 1857-1860. Picture liner and cleaner, carver and gilder.
See British picture restorers on the National Portrait Gallery website.
William Wall, Oxford, see Robert Archer
Contributed by Edward Town
**Henry Waller, London by 1595, parish of St Martin in the Fields by 1621, died 1622. Joiner.
Henry Waller was born in Cartmel, Lancashire and in his will made 19 January 1621/2 and proved 29 January 1621/2 he bequeathed £5 to both the church and the school of the village where he was probably educated (National Archives, PROB 11/139). Because the Joiners’ Company accounts only survive from the year when Waller died, there is no record of his membership in the Company, but a bequest of £5 to the poorest members of the Company can probably be taken as evidence for his participation in guild life. Whatever the case, he was one of the most eminent and successful joiners in the country, and his will gives a good sense of the wealth that a practicing craftsmen at the top of his profession could accrue. At his death his workshop was manned by two ‘servants’ or journeymen, John Whitton and Thomas King, who, together with his nephew, the joiner, Nicholas Reade (qv), were left all of Waller’s tools and all of his timber, boards and walnut – a choice commodity. As is apparent from his will, Waller owned numerous residences in St Martin-in-the-Fields, a parish where he served as vestryman.
He and a ‘James Waller’ perhaps his brother or possibly his father had been jointly granted the post of Joiner to the Privy Chamber in around 1595, following the death of William Jasper, at a wage of 12 pence a day (National Archives, SP 12/255/61). He appears to have held this position all his life, although it was not mentioned in his will. In 1605 he was paid by the exchequer for a Billiard board, twelve foot long and four foot broad, with a walnut frame (National Archives, LC 5/37 f.323, LC 9/94 f.74). In the financial year from Michaelmas 1605, i.e. 29 September 1605, Waller received payment from James I's Great Wardrobe for various joined wares including chairs of various sizes, a canopy, seven carved cartouches (which were gilded by the Serjeant Painter, John de Critz), and importantly three 'Machinis' or frames for pictures at six shillings each (National Archives, LC 9/94 f.69).
In 1607 Waller was paid by the Lord Treasurer, Thomas Sackville for ‘worke done and ware delivered’ at both Knole and Dorset House, for which he was paid £4.12s. At another occasion, Waller was paid by Sackville for providing a money chest for Thomas Bridges, one of the Lord Treasurer’s secretaries (Kent History and Library Centre, U269 A1/1).
Significantly, in February 1611/12 he was paid twenty shillings by Robert Cecil, for a frame given to Sir Walter Cope at Holland House (see Sources below). The frame had been painted in the workshop of John de Critz (qv). Later in 1613, Waller was paid for a host of joined furnishings for the wedding trousseau of Princess Elizabeth prior to her marriage to the Elector of Bohemia. The royal warrant for payment to Waller lists a series of items including chairs, necessary stools, a screen with a lion carved at the top, a folding walnut table, along with the timber and board to make cases to pack the furniture in for transit (British Library, Add. MS 5750, published in Archaeologia, vol.26, 1836, pp.380-94).
Sources: Hatfield House Archive, box G/13, 'To one waller a Joyner uppon his bill for make a fram for a pickure given to Sr Water Cope xxs’. Hatfield House Archive, box U/75: recto, ‘John de Creete his bill for painteinge and giltinge a greate frame for a pickture for my Lo: Cranbo: which is set upp at Kensington Receipt Sum xls received this xij day of October 1611 James Manucij'; verso, 'It[e]m for painting, gilding and rebesking all over a greate frame beeing 8 foote long and 6 foote brode for a pictur of the Right Honorable the Lord of Cranburn, whiche is sette up at Kingsinton £2-0-0, [signed] Walter Cope’.
William Waters (active 1722-d.1767?), The King’s Arms, Pall Mall, London 1731, The Queen’s Arms, Pall Mall 1743. Picture framemaker, carver and gilder, picture cleaner and liner.
A prominent framemaker patronised by the Crown, William Waters worked for some considerable patrons, including Queen Caroline, the Duke of Montagu, Earl Fitzwalter, Lord Glenorchy and Charles Wyndham.
‘Mr. Waters at the King’s Arms in Pall Mall’ was among those selling a newly published print in 1731 (Daily Post 2 February 1731). William Waters seems to have retired in 1743 when he was described as ‘Framemaker to her late Majesty’ at the time a sale was announced, to be held at the Queen’s Arms in Pall Mall in 1743, of his household furniture, pictures, stock and tools in trade (Daily Advertiser 2 November 1743); the sale also included his entire stock of mahogany, rosewood, Virginia walnut and other woods, in planks and veneers, wainscot, looking-glass plates and carved and gilt picture frames. Waters is possibly the Mr Waters, carver and gilder of Long Acre who died in 1767 (St James's Chronicle 26 November 1767).
Waters charged for frames for the royal residences of St James’s, Kensington, Kew and Richmond, 1734-5 and 1737-8 (DEF, vol.3, p.31, as William Walters), including £60.3s for picture frames and cleaning, repairing and fixing pictures, and a further £26.1s.9d for small picture frames and cleaning and mending pictures.
Waters was paid £3 for making a frame for the 2nd Duke Montagu in 1722 (Mason 1992 p.94). ‘Mr Waters the frame maker' was employed by Charles Wyndham, later 2nd Earl of Egremont, in 1735 and 1742 (Jackson-Stops 1980 p.1030). He worked for Lord Glenorchy, later 3rd Earl of Breadalbane, 1733-43 (National Archives of Scotland, GD112/21/77-8, Breadalbane muniments), charging £1.5s for repairing and regilding an old half-length frame in 1740 and also making various charges for restoring pictures, including 10s for ‘a Stretching frame Cloth & lining your Lordships picture a half length’ (GD112/21/230/33).
As Mr Waters or Wm Waters he received payments from Benjamin Mildmay, Earl Fitzwalter, of Moulsham Hall, Essex, of £2.2s for a gilt picture frame for Kneller’s oval Duke of Schomberg in 1729, £18.10s for table and glass frames in 1732, £28.7s for unspecified work in 1735 and £2.19s.6d for a gilt frame at 3s.6d a foot for a horse picture, Childers, in 1739 (A.C. Edwards, The Account Books of Benjamin Mildmay, Earl Fitzwalter, 1977, pp.104, 188-90). The Dictionary of English Furniture Makers erroneously ascribes this work at Moulsham to William Walters, rather than Waters, and identifies a further order for frames in 1741-2.
William Waters should not be confused with Charles Jervas’s servant of this name (information from Caroline Pegum, April 2009), who witnessed payment in 1713 for a portrait of Charles Fox (see Millar 1995 p.526, item XIII). Nor should he be identified with William Waters Esq of St James’s, whose collection of paintings was advertised for sale posthumously within a few days of the framemaker’s sale (Daily Advertiser 25 October 1743). Nor with William Waters, joiner, of Whitechapel who put out as apprentices one son, also William Waters, in 1741, and another, William Edward Waters in 1766.
For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.
Edward F. Watson, 2 Poland St, Oxford St, London 1830-1831, 49 Poland St 1833-1837, St James's Gallery of Art, 201 Piccadilly 1838-1877. Picture dealer and picture restorer, artist, carver and gilder.
See British picture restorers on the National Portrait Gallery website.
**Gervas Wells, 38 Piccadilly (‘opposite St James’s Church’), London by 1767-1792 or later. Carver and gilder, picture framemaker.
This carver and gilder is named as Gervase Wells in the Dictionary of English Furniture Makers but in contemporary newspapers he advertised as Gervas Wells. He may have been born in about 1728 (IGI). He appears to be the individual who married Elizabeth Evans at St George Mayfair in 1753. They had nine children between 1757 and 1772, the older ones christened at St James Piccadilly, 1757-65, and perhaps the younger as well. He remarried in 1784, described as a widow of the parish of St George Hanover Square, to Mary Rogers.
‘Gerves Wells’, gilder of St James Westminster, took an apprentice, Lawrence Dunn, for a premium of £21 in 1768. Gervas Wells, carver and gilder of Piccadilly, was made bankrupt in 1775 (London Gazette 11 November 1775) but continued to trade from 38 Piccadilly, advertising in 1777 a new invention of cleaning pictures, prints, books and manuscripts, ‘let them be ever so old, changed yellow, or spoit with flies… without hurting the impression of the finest print or drawing, of the tenderest colours’ (Public Advertiser 17 April 1777). He took out insurance with the Sun Fire Office for £1500 in 1784 and £2100 in 1787 but this appears to have been mainly for property not utilised in the business, including houses at 2, 3 and 4 Bolton St (DEFM). Described as a Venetian blind maker, Wells took further apprentices, William Jefferys for £20 in 1789 and John Wilson for £5 in 1792.
Framing work: Wells advertised in 1767, ‘Carving and Gilding and Picture frame making on the lowest Terms, by reason it is all executed by my own Family’, also offering to frame and glaze prints and drawings in a variety of new patterns (Public Advertiser 12 August 1767). He advertised Venetian window blinds and kept a stock of pier frames, oval glasses and girandoles in ‘new Patterns, in the present Taste’ (St James’s Chronicle 26 July 1768).
For the 4th Duke of Gordon, Wells undertook framing and related work costing £25.14s.10d in 1765 and £15.12s in 1774 (National Archives of Scotland, GD44/51/466/3(13), GD44/51/475/14(20), Gordon Castle muniments, reference kindly supplied by Helen Smailes). More specifically, in 1765 Wells supplied seven gilt frames with Italian mouldings, 4½ ins wide, apparently for 50 x 40 ins pictures, made up of 128 feet at 3s.6d a foot, at a cost of £22.8s, and three black and gold frames for large pictures, made up of 64 feet at 10d a foot. In 1774 he supplied an Italian frame with foliage inside and loose beads at 5s.6d a foot, a three-quarters frame in burnished gold at 4s.6d a foot and a pair of frames, the tops round, with loose beads and grass, gadroons and fluting(?) at 3s.6d a foot.
Wells supplied nine picture frames to Alscot Park, Warwickshire, in 1769 at a cost of £10.19s.6d and two large frames to Burton Constable, Yorkshire, in 1771 for £16.18s (DEFM). Two artists used his premises (or possibly those of James Wells, see below) as an accommodation address for exhibitions at the Society of Artists and may have been customers: Thomas Miles in 1767-8 and George Sykes in 1773.
Sources: DEFM, referring to London Metropolitan Archives, Sun fire policy registers, 324/499478, 342/527913, 373/580074.
**James Wells, near the Angel in Piccadilly, 1765. Carver and gilder.
James Wells is included here for his advertisement for ready-made frames for prints by certain artists, namely William Hogarth and William Woollett. He advertised in the following terms: ‘JAMES WELLS, carver and gilder, and black frame maker, near the Angel in Piccadilly, has great variety of frames of different patterns, ready made for Mr. Hogarth’s work, Mr. Wollet’s, and for the prints of the siege of the Havannah; where subscriptions are taken in; and they may be seen framed and glazed, with great variety of capital prints framed and glazed, and unframed, fit for furniture, as is now the taste, at the lowest prices, for ready money’ (Gazeteer and New Daily Advertiser 27 May 1765).
There is no evidence of a relationship with Gervas Wells (qv), who also traded from Piccadilly.
Ernest Walter Wesson (1873-1951), see A.E. Burling
Updated March 2016, September 2018
Charles Henry West 1895-1947, Charles H. West Ltd 1948-1960. At 115 Finchley Road, London NW4 1895-1901, 117 Finchley Road 1902-1960. Picture framemaker and artists' colourman.
Charles Henry West (1867-1929) can probably be identified with the individual born 23 November 1867 and christened at St Leonard Shoreditch on 16 February 1868, the son of Henry West, a publisher in Hackney, and his wife Helen. In the 1891 census he was listed in the Hackney household of his father when he was described as a stationer’s assistant. By 1892 Henry West was trading from 115 Finchley Road as a stationer and picture framemaker.
Charles Henry West took over his father’s premises at 115 Finchley Road in 1895, when his father would have turned sixty. In censuses, in 1901 Charles Henry West was living at 179 Belsize Road, his father-in-law’s house, where he was listed as an artists’ colourman, born Hackney, age 33, and in 1911 at 54 Alexander Road, Hampstead, as an art dealer and picture framemaker, and employer, with his wife, mother, two daughters and Orpah Stroud, age 26, an assistant in the business.
West acted as an agent for Cambridge colours, 1897, made by Madderton & Co Ltd (see British artists' suppliers on this website), and had an account with the artists' suppliers, Roberson, 1899-1908 (Woodcock 1997). At his death at the age of 62 in 1929 he left effects worth £6703, with probate granted to his widow, Alice Emily West. It is not clear how the business was carried on thereafter but in 1948 it began trading as a limited company. By 1962 the business was being run by Reeves as a branch of Clifford Milburn Ltd from 311 Finchley Road (The Artist April 1962; for Milburn, see British artists' suppliers on this website).
Framing work: As an artists' colourman, picture framer and gilder, West advertised ‘Power-driven machinery’ and offered 'Vans to all Exhibitions' (The Year’s Art 1903). In 1934, he advertised as 'Artists' Colourman, Exhibition Agent, Frame Maker', reproducing a view of his picture frame showroom (The Artist, vol.7, March 1934), and claiming, ‘The framing of your R.A. picture will provide no problem if placed in the hands of Chas. H. West, who has specialised in this class of work for the past 50 years. He holds very large stocks of mouldings of all descriptions, and a vast number of frames of all sizes for selecting purposes’.
In April 1940, the Ministry of Information obtained quotations from three firms, Alfred Stiles & Sons (qv), J. Tanous (qv) and C.H. West, for the framing of works by official war artists, the contract going to Stiles (Simon 1996 p.135).
West’s label as a picture framer can be found on several portraits by Reginald Grenville Eves, including Sir Frederick Pollock, c.1926 (National Portrait Gallery, label on stretcher), Sir Frank Robert Benson, 1927 (Theatre Museum, see Ashton 1992 p.129), William Reid Dick, 1933 (Scottish National Portrait Gallery; a Spanish-style frame) and Earl Jellicoe, 1935 (National Portrait Gallery). Philip de László recommended West in 1935 to Sir Max Bonn who wanted his father’s picture cut down and reframed (National Portrait Gallery, De László archive, 057-0114).
Artists’ materials: West's canvas mark as an artists’ colourman can be found on John Collier's George Smith, 1901 (National Portrait Gallery), Charles Henry Sims’ The Fountain, 1908, stamped: CHAS H. WEST,/ FINCHLEY ROAD (Tate; for Sims, see below), Arthur Streeton’s Nasturtiums, 1912, stencilled: C.H. WEST/ 115, FINCHLEY ROAD/ N.W. (National Gallery of Victoria), Philippe Ledoux's Sir William Reid Dick, exh.1934, with stretcher rather than canvas stamp, and R.G. Eves's Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, 1935 (both National Portrait Gallery), Stanislawa de Karlowska’s Berkeley Square,c.1935, oval stamp (Tate, see ‘The Camden Town Group in Context’, research project, at www.tate.org.uk) and David Bomberg’s Sunlight and Flowers, 1940s (Sotheby’s 10 March 2005 lot 1).
For illustrations of this business’s canvas marks, see British canvas, stretcher and panel suppliers’ marks. Part 6, O to Y on this website.
Charles Buchel used West’s labelled academy boards for three theatre scenes in 1914, Herbert Beerbohm Tree as Shylock, Herbert Beerbohm Tree as Othello and Herbert Beerbohm Tree as Macbeth (all Theatre Museum, London, see Ashton 1992 pp.109-12) and obtained canvas from him for Marguerite Radclyffe Hall, 1918 (National Portrait Gallery).
Charles Henry Sims obtained many of his supplies from West as his local colourman, including canvas (see above) and the occasional prepared watercolour board, e.g. for Study of Mother and Sons, c.1906, with West’s label on reverse, as can be seen from the Sims collection at Northumbria University (Jane Colbourne, A critical survey of the materials and techniques of Charles Henry Sims, Northumbria University, PhD thesis, 2011).
Emanuel Horwitz’s drawing, Stacy Aumonier, 1926, was drawn on one of West’s prepared watercolour boards (National Portrait Gallery, the board now detached, Ass. Items 2777). Lucian Freud used a sketchbook from West in the 1940s (National Portrait Gallery).
For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.
Charles Wharton (d.1753) is best known for his impressive trade card, dating to the early 18th century. It describes him as a picture framemaker and offers picture frames, in gold, lacquered or black, maps and prints (ready-framed) and paintings on glass (repr. Heal 1972 p.192; Johnson Coll. Trade Cards 24 (67).
Charles Wharton’s apprentice, Robert Toothaker, ran away in June 1724, according to a newspaper advertisement in which Wharton was described as living in ‘Queen-Strete in the Park, Southwark’ (Weekly Journal 5 September 1724, information from Richard Stephens, February 2010; Toothaker died in 1735, described in his will as a mariner, late a picture framemaker). Wharton died in 1753 and was buried on 4 March that year at St Saviour, Denmark Park, Southwark, when he was described as a picture framemaker.
For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.
Benjamin Wheatley, see Doig, Wilson & Wheatley
James Whittle (d.1759), see Samuel Norman
Added September 2017
Thomas A. Wilmurt 1850-1890, Thomas A. Wilmurt & Son 1890-1899. At 718 Broadway, New York 1850-1853, 622 Broadway 1854-1862, 650 Broadway 1862-1864, 706 Broadway 1864-1866, 54 East 13th Street 1866-1899. Frame maker.
Thomas A. Wilmurt (c.1821-1909) is included here for his work for John Singer Sargent. He advertised that his business had been established in 1848 (National Academy Notes including the Complete Catalogue of the Spring Exhibition, 1889, accessed through JSTOR; other similar adverts). In the 1860s and 1870s he lived with his family at 88 Grove St (see ‘The Second Empire Charmer at No. 88 Grove Street’ at http://daytoninmanhattan.blogspot.co.uk/2011/01/second-empire-charmer-at-no-88-grove.html). In the 1880 US census Thomas M. Wilmurt (the initial is unclear) was described as age 60, born New Jersey, occupation ‘Picture Frame Factory’, married with four sons and a daughter, ranging from 15 to 26 years old, all born in New York. He advertised in catalogues of the Society of American Artists. Described as Thomas Ashmore Wilmurt his death was recorded in Manhattan in his 89th year in April 1909 (New York Times 19 April 1909).
Framing work: Wilmurt advertised in 1889 that his business had been established in 1848 (National Academy Notes including the Complete Catalogue of the Spring Exhibition, accessed through JStor); he was then offering 'Picture Frames, Mirrors, Etc, Etc' singling out his 'Artistic Designs in Gold, Bronze, Hard Woods, Etc'.
Wilmurt was used for framing or packing pictures by various artists including the landscape painters, Alexander Wyant in 1866 and Jervis McEntee in 1873-88 (Archives of American Art Journal, vol.12, no.4, 1972, p. 5, vol.8, now.3/4, 1968, p.20, accessed through JStor; online at www.aaa.si.edu/collections). Many of Asher B. Durand’s landscapes in the New York Historical Society bear Wilmurt’s label from 54 East 13th St and therefore later than the works themselves (Katlan 1987 pp.334-5). More particularly, he framed various paintings for John Singer Sargent during his visit to New York in 1887-8, including portraits, Mrs Benjamin Kissam (Biltmore House, North Carolina) and William Jay II (John Jay Homestead, Katonah, New York), see Jacob Simon, ‘John Singer Sargent and the Framing of his Pictures’, in Richard Ormond and Elaine Kilmurray, John Singer Sargent: Figures and Landscapes, 1914-1925, Complete Paintings, vol. IX, 2016, p.61).
Thomas Wilson, see Doig, Wilson & Wheatley
Updated March 2014, March 2020
John Woodburn from 1782?, 1786, 1797-1811, Allen Woodburn 1813, 1818 (as a gilder), Messrs Woodburn, also known as Woodburn brothers 1817-1836, Samuel Woodburn 1826-1827, Samuel & Allen Woodburn 1836-1853. At Broad St, parish of St James Piccadilly, London 1782-1786, 42 Dean St 1790-1792, St Martin's Lane 1797, 112 St Martin's Lane 1799-1853. Picture and old master drawing dealers, print dealers and publishers, picture framemakers, occasional picture restorers.
The business was set up by John Woodburn (c.1750-1823), who married Frances Klema (or Clama) Palmer at St Clement Danes in 1775. Woodburn was probably in business in Broad St by 1782 when first recorded in rate books. He was certainly in business as a picture dealer by 1786 when named as a buyer at the sale of Noel Joseph Desenfans (Getty provenance index). He can be found in the rate books in Dean St in 1790 and he was presumably the publisher of a print from 42 Dean St in 1794 (see British Museum collection database). Woodburn was recorded in 1799 as a ‘picture warehouse’, and was presumably Woodburn the dealer mentioned by the artist Joseph Farington in his diaries in 1797 and 1801 (Farington, vol.3 p.876, vol.4 p.1511). John Woodburn died in March 1823 at the age of 72.
Woodburn's business was continued by his children, of whom Samuel is best known. He has been described by Frits Lugt as the principal art dealer of his period, working in association with his brothers William, Allen and Henry ('four highly respectable brothers', according to the draughtsman, John Thomas Smith in 1828). Lugt provides the best summary account of Samuel Woodburn's dealing activities and his posthumous sales (Lugt 1921 pp.483-5).
Samuel and Allen Woodburn were among John and Frances Woodburn’s many children born over the space of twenty years, and christened at St Martin-in-the-Fields or St Anne Soho. Samuel Woodburn (1783-1853) was in business publishing prints by 1811. His considerable activities as a leading print dealer and as a print publisher have been the subject of recent studies by Antony Griffiths and Simon Turner. Samuel Woodburn assisted in the assembly and then the dispersal of Thomas Lawrence's superb collection of Old Master drawings. His portrait by Lawrence is in the Fitzwilliam Museum. In the 1841 census, Allen and Henry Woodburn were both listed as picture dealers at 112 St Martin’s Lane, while Samuel was recorded in Park Lane. Samuel died in 1853, his age given as 67, at 184 Piccadilly.
Sir Charles Eastlake, in evidence to a parliamentary committee in 1853, when questioned about William Woodburn, thought that ‘his brother, the late Mr. Samuel Woodburn, was an excellent connoisseur of drawings; but it was considered that, of all the family, the best connoisseur in pictures was Mr. William Woodburn.’ (Report from the Select Committee on the National Gallery, 1853, p.435).
Framing and other work: The earliest evidence for the business’s framing activities comes from payments by Sir John Soane in 1808 for frames and glass costing £13.16s.6d (Sir John Soane’s Museum Archive, journal no.5, Soane’s account, 19 October and 24 December 1808; see also Dorey 1997 p.30 n.44).
The younger brother, Allen Woodburn (1786-1851), seems to have been responsible for the framing activities of the business. His frame label, with the main text within a central oval and an image of a frame in each of the four outer corners, describes him as, 'A. Woodburn, Picture Frame Maker & Gilder, No. 112 St Martin's Lane, Charing Cross. NB. Paintings, Prints & Needlework neatly Framed and Glazed. Old Frames Regilt' (found on Nathaniel Hone’s General Lloyd, Fitzwilliam Museum, part of Lord Fitzwilliam's founding collection in 1816; information from David Scrase, March 2007). The label can also be found on three J.M.W. Turner frames at the Tate (information from Adrian Moore, June 2019). Turner’s gallery frames were sometimes swapped around in his lifetime or in the aftermath. These labelled frames belong to the period, 1809-12, and on the available evidence housed Fishing upon the Blythe-Sand, Tide Setting, exh.1809, and still house Harvest Dinner, Kingston Bank, exh.1809, and St Mawes at the Pilchard Season, exh.1812 (Tate, N00496, N00491, N00484).
Woodburn employed both Thomas Jackson (qv) and his son George Jackson (qv), 1812-7, for the supply of ornament in compo and for ornamenting frames, as is discussed in more detail in the next section. Here, the focus is on Woodburn’s work for artists and collectors.
John Linnell dealt with one or another member of the Woodburn family, in 1817 purchasing coloured paper from Samuel Woodburn, in 1818 agreeing to purchase a carved frame for £2.5s in June and exchanging a ‘Picture of Sunset’ for various frames in December (Linnell noted that Samuel Woodburn came to see his pictures), in 1819 buying two small frames from Henry Woodburn for 15s and in 1821 and 1823 paying Allen Woodburn’s account (Fitzwilliam Museum, Linnell account book, MS 20-2000, and journal, MS 6-2000; subsequent account books remain to be studied).
John Constable had one of his paintings on sale through the business in 1818, as we find from a letter from Allen Woodburn to the artist (Beckett 1966 p.165). He is documented as using Woodburn for some picture framing and perhaps for other services between 1821 and 1831. In 1821 he was using ‘Mr Woodburns’ to pack pictures (Beckett 1968 p.65). On 10 September 1825 Constable noted in his journal, ‘I called on Mr. Woodburn – found my frame bill £65 which was more than I expected, but it was all right', and on 24 November he recorded, ‘I dined with Allen Woodburn in St. Martin’s Lane', adding on 6 December, ‘Two Mr. Woodburns called – Allen & Samuel – the “Gentleman”, for he really is.’ (Beckett 1966 pp.390, 412, 417). In correspondence with C.R. Leslie, perhaps in 1830, Constable referred to paying some old debts to Woodburn and others, and there is a payment of £50 in Constable's bank account to Woodburn on 3 September 1831 (Beckett 1965 p.26, Beckett 1964 p.167). Later, Samuel Woodburn called on Constable to act as an expert witness in a court case in 1835 (Beckett 1966 p.168).
In 1832, a Leicestershire collector and patron, Henry Payne, told William Etty of his taste for ‘fine old frames’ and how a few years previously he had acquired some of his carved frames from Messrs Woodburn and from the picture dealer, John Lewis Rutley (William Etty letters, York City Library; for Rutley, see British picture restorers on the National Portrait Gallery website).
The business also provided advice on picture restoration. In a letter to J.A. Stuart Mackenzie in 1822, Samuel(?) Woodburn wrote concerning the cleaning and repair of 13 pictures from Brahan Castle (National Archives of Scotland, GD46/17/60, Seaforth Papers).
Woodburn and George Jackson: Woodburn, sometimes spelt Woodbourn or Woodbourne, probably Allen Woodburn rather than one of his brothers, was a client of Thomas Jackson and of his son, George Jackson, both composition ornament makers, as can be seen from George Jackson’s account book, 1812-7 (V&A Archive of Art and Design, AAD/2012/1/2/1). Woodburn appears to have identified his frames by frame or order number, as Jackson sometimes records. This numbering can be used to make the tentative suggestion that Jackson worked on between 4% and 13% each year of the frames going through Woodburn’s order books.
On one occasion, on 22 August 1812, George Jackson carved moulds for his father, charging him for ‘Cutting the Sett of Moulds Compleat from Woodbourn’s frame’, listing all the parts, at a total cost of £8 (AAD/2012/1/2/1, p.21). This would have allowed this frame and its ornament to be reproduced, whether to meet an order from Woodburn himself or to enable Thomas Jackson to copy Woodburn’s frame and its ornament for his own use. Descriptions such as ‘Woodburns corners' and ‘Woodburns ogee bubble’ in the account books of another framemaker, John Smith (qv), from 1817 until 1828, suggest that Woodburn’s framing ornament was among those used by Smith for composition details for his picture frames, whether through George Jackson as a subcontracting supplier or in some other way (see also Simon 1996 p.140).
Woodburn used George Jackson to apply composition ornament to some of his frames, as is clear from Jackson’s account book, selectively quoted here (the punctuation has been added and some words spelt out to aid legibility):
- ’Ornamentg 2 frames with Smarts corners, Smarts m[i]ddles, Bowers foliage, filled in with flowers & vine and Shell oge on Slips’, for £5 on 25 May 1813 (an expensive order)
- ‘One half length frame ornamented Sibleys Corners, Smarts middles, Bowers foliage, filled in with flower and egg ovolo’, for £2.8s on 6 November 1813
- ‘orn[amentin]g 1 frame 90 [this is the frame number], Smarts corners & Woodbourns inside D[itt]o, Pratts Shells for D[itt]o, Bowers mid foliage [‘small’ deleted] from Corners & Vine from Centres, P Leaf & Egg’, for £1.2s.6d on 16 February 1816
- ‘1 frame, 10 ft 6, Cheq[uere]d & Orn[amente]d, Woodburns backsweeps, Derby Corners of…, Prat Shell & frill centre, Tusets [=Tousets] & Smiths flowers, vine from Corner & centre’, for £1.8s on 7 June 1817
As with the order book of John Smith (qv), another leading framemaker, ornament is identified using framemakers’ names, perhaps because the design originated with, or was in some other way associated with the particular maker. In any case, it would suggest that ornament was freely and rapidly exchanged among London framemakers in the 1810s. For details of the various framemakers so named and for a full list of such ornament, see the entry on George Jackson.
Woodburn also used Jackson to suppy ornament which he could then use in his own workshop. Examples include ’25 ft Gothic og[e]e’ supplied for 3s and ‘Gothic Creapers Corners Centres Small Bands’ for £2.9s, ‘8 large Darby mitre leaves’ for 8s, ’13 ft Cheese & Skittle’ and ‘1 sett Davey mitres’.
Sources: John Thomas Smith, Nollekens and his times, 1828, vol.2, p.31; Antony Griffiths, in Landmarks in Print Collecting: Connoisseurs and Donors at the British Museum since 1753, 1996, pp.90-112; Simon Turner, ' Samuel Woodburn', Print Quarterly, vol.20, 2003, pp.131-44. François-Pierre Goy kindly drew my attention to the birth and christening record for Samuel Woodburn at St James Westminster. For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.
Josiah Woodgate (1831-84), see Vacani
*William Thrale Wright (William Wright junr) 1827-1846, carver and gilder (and picture cleaner 1836), John Wright 1838-1846, picture cleaner and restorer, William T. & John Wright 1846-1855, carvers and gilders (and picture importers 1846-50, upholsterers and decorators 1851-5), William & John Wright 1856-1863,gilders etc, John Wright 1864, Wright Bros 1865-1870, antique furniture dealers, William & Frederick Wright 1871-1894, antique furniture dealers (manufacturers and importers of antique furniture, bronzes, pictures 1870s), Frederick John Wright 1896-1899, dealer in works of art, Evelyn Wright 1900-1919, dealer in works of art, then antique furniture dealer. At 22 Wardour St, London 1827-1850, 22 & 23 Wardour St 1851-1877, street renumbered 1878, 142 & 144 Wardour St 1878-1894, 1896-1903, 144 Wardour St 1904-1919.
*William & John (James in some directories) Wright 1840-1845, William (William T.) & John Wright 1846-1855, William & John Wright 1856-1863, John Wright 1864-1885, William Wright 1886-1891. At 26 Wardour St, London 1840-1845, 27 Wardour St 1846-1877, street renumbered 1878, 134 Wardour St 1878-1891. Antique furniture warehouse/dealers, also importers of antique furniture and plate glass warehouse to 1849, importers and manufacturers of oak and marqueterie furniture 1851-5, furniture dealers from 1857.
The businesses at 22/23 Wardour St and at 26/27 Wardour St are recorded separately above for clarity but it should be noted that they were usually listed together in the 1840s and 1850s.
William Thrale Wright (?1801-1862) set up as a carver and gilder in or before 1827 at 22 Wardour St, premises that John Henry Thrale Wright (b.1812), probably his brother, shared with him as a picture restorer from 1838. Additionally, they began trading in antique furniture from 26 Wardour St in 1840, with William Wright taking out insurance on the premises on 6 May 1840 (London Metropolitan Archives, Sun Fire Office policy registers, 573/1328189). They moved to 27 Wardour St five years later. Following William Wright’s death, the business split in two, with his sons, William, Frederick and then Evelyn trading from 22 Wardour St until 1918, and his brother, John, and his sons in turn, Cecil and William, from 27 Wardour St until 1891.
William Thrale Wright (c.1798/1801-1862) was later improbably described as carver and gilder to Princess Sophia Matilda at the end of the 18th century, and more accurately as an early importer of oak panelling, carving and marquetry, according to a publication of 1898, which characterised the businessas the ‘Old Curiosity Shop’ (John Henry Cardwell (ed.), Two centuries of Soho: Its Institutions, Firms and Amusements, 1898, p.195; see also Clive Wainwright, The Romantic Interior, 1989, p.56, giving details from 1850 rate book). William Thrale Wright was listed at first as William Wright junr and it is possible that his father, apparently also William Wright, may have traded before him. It should be noted that there was a William Wright, carver and gilder, recorded at 38 London St, Fitzroy Square, and sometimes linked in directory entries to the Wardour St business.
William Thrale Wright may possibly be the William Wright born in 1801 and christened the following year at St Mary Marylebone but it should be noted that this name occurs frequently in the church register. He married Mary Miles at St Pancras Old Church in 1827 and had children, among whom Frederick John in 1832 and Mary Eliza in 1833. He was trading in 1827 as a carver and gilder from 22 Wardour St and advertised in 1828 (The Times 2 October 1828).
William Thrale Wright can be traced with his family in successive censuses, always at 22 Wardour St, in 1841 as a carver and gilder, in 1851 as a gilder and cabinet maker, by now a widower, with three working sons, an artist William, age 23, and two younger sons as upholsterers, James and Frederick, ages 20 and 19, and in 1861 as an upholsterer, age 55, employing seven men, with three upholsterer sons, William, Frederick and Edwin. William Wright, upholsterer of 22 Wardour St, as he was called in the National Probate Calendar, died age 64 in October 1862 leaving effects worth under £9,000, his will proved by his son William James and his brother John Henry, both described as upholsterers. His son William remained at 22 Wardour St, where he was recorded in the 1871 census as an upholsterer and in 1881 as a furniture dealer, with his brother Evelyn, age 35. It was with another brother, Frederick John Wright (b.1832), that he traded in partnership from 1871, if not before, until his death at 144 Wardour St in 1892, described as an antique furniture dealer, leaving effects worth £2813, with probate granted to his brother Evelyn. Frederick John Wright then continued trading for a few years as a dealer in works of art until the business was taken on by his brother, Evelyn John Wright (1845-1919).
John Henry Thrale Wright (b.1812), William Thrale’s brother, was born in August 1812, the son of William and Mary Wright, and christened at St Mary Marylebone. ‘John Wright’ was listed as a picture restorer at 22 Wardour St from 1838 until 1846. He is presumably the John Henry Wright who married Katharine Watkins at St Pancras Old Church in 1848 and whose son Cecil Henry was born later that year. Like his brother, John Wright can be traced with his family in successive censuses, but at 27 Wardour St, in 1851 as an upholsterer, age 38, with his wife Kate, age 28, and two-year-old son Cecil, in 1861 again as upholsterer, in 1871 as an antique furniturer dealer, including his son Cecil, also an antique furniture dealer, and in 1881 at 134 Wardour St, following renumbering, as a furniture dealer, still with his son, also described as a furniture dealer. The business traded as William Wright from 1886. Cecil Wright (1848-1914) appears to be the individual who died in 1914 in the Exeter district, age 65.
Framing work: ‘Messrs Wright of Wardour Street’ worked for the National Gallery, 1856-8, receiving £40 in February 1856 for making a frame for Veronese’s Adoration of the Kings (repr. Nicholas Penny, National Gallery Catalogues: The 16th Century Italian Paintings, vol.2 Venice 1540-1600, 2008, p.406) and a further £45 in January 1858 for a carved Venetian frame for Veronese’s Family of Darius before Alexander. The pattern on the Adoration of the Kings is also found on Van Dyck’s Charles I on horseback and Joseph Wright of Derby's Air Pump (both National Gallery) and on pictures transferred from the National Gallery to the Tate, including Reynolds's Ligonier, Reynolds's Three Ladies and Fuseli's Titania, but it would seem that some of these frames were later in date and made by other firms, perhaps including Dolman (qv).
Edward Wyatt (1757-1833) has been described by his biographer, John Martin Robinson, as among the most accomplished woodcarvers to work in England. His business was carried on in the next generation by his second son, also Edward Wyatt (1787-1862).
Wyatt was apprenticed to John Sotheby (qv) for a premium of £5 in 1771 and in turn took apprentices John Jones in 1790 and Samuel Suddenwood in 1792, both for the considerable premium of £63. Wyatt began his career by making picture frames at 360 Oxford St, next door to the Pantheon, as his trade card specifies, and it has been suggested that he may have got the lease of the premises through the influence of his cousin, James Wyatt, the Pantheon’s architect. His trade card describes him as ‘Carver, Gilder and Picture Frame Maker’, offering ‘Looking Glasses, Girandoles, Bordering for Rooms &c in the newest taste. Prints neatly Fram’d and Glaz’d’ (repr. Heal 1972 p.202). He published a caricature in 1784 (BM Satires no.6703). In 1787 he subscribed to George Richardson’s A Treatise on the five orders of Architecture (Biography database). In 1795 he was chairman of a meeting of fifteen consumers and manufacturers of leaf gold who met to resist the attempt by journeymen goldbeaters to increase their labour charges (The Times 22 December 1795).
Like many of his contemporaries, Wyatt used the specialist composition ornament maker, George Jackson (qv), to supply ornament which could be used for ornamenting frames, 1816-17, and perhaps subsequently (see Jackson account book, V&A Archive of Art and Design, AAD/2012/1/2/1, pp. 290, 369). His son Edward Wyatt junr was a customer of George Jackson & Sons, 1836-42 (Jackson account book, AAD/2012/1/2/3); he ordered goods to the huge sum of £1273 in 1838 (at a time that he was working on Buckingham Palace).
Framing and other work: In 1798 Wyatt was appointed carver and gilder to the Office of Works and he undertook carving and building work for various royal palaces, especially Windsor Castle and Carlton House, in the period, 1800-12. He was appointed carver and gilder to the King in 1812, one of several such carving businesses to hold the royal warrant; the warrant was renewed in 1820 at the accession of George IV, in 1830 under William IV and in 1838 under Queen Victoria (National Archives, LC 3/68 p.133, 3/69 pp.5, 158, 3/70 p.19, 5/243 p.166). He received various quarterly payments through the Lord Chamberlain from 1812 onwards, including £1014 in the period to 10 October 1812, £2655 to 5 January 1816, and various rather smaller amounts at other times until 1828 (National Archives, LC 9/397).
At Windsor, his work as part of James Wyatt’s refurbishments included repairing picture frames. He was responsible for further carving and gilding at Windsor under Jeffry Wyattville from 1824. He undertook work at Belvoir Castle, 1801-13, and apparently at Dodington Park, 1808, under James Wyatt, and at Chesterfield House and Ashridge under Wyattville. Given the large number of members of the Wyatt family active in building work, it is not possible to be categorical that all these references refer to the carver and gilder of Oxford St. Other patrons for carvings and furniture are listed in the Dictionary of English Furniture Makers.
For George IV, Wyatt made three special ‘Admiral frames’ for £135 in 1808 for portraits of contemporary naval heroes, with the carved corner ornaments of dolphins, anchors, coral and sprigs of oak for four frames costing £260, as well as framing other pictures from 1811 until 1830, including in 1825 a picture by William Collins, and in 1830 pictures by James Northcote and the late Sir Thomas Lawrence (Millar 1969 p.xxxi, nos 708, 849, 912, 974, 1024, etc). Wyatt also made a rich gilt composition frame, surmounted by a crown, with a bishop’s mitre below, for an engraving of Hoppner’s Dr William Markham which was a gift from George IV to Lady Mansfield (Christie’s 24 May 2007, Scone Palace and Blairquhan sale, lot 387).
In 1825, Edward Wyatt, or his son, 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). In the 1820s he bought a small country estate at Merton for his eldest son. He died a rich man. His business in London was carried on by his second son, also Edward Wyatt (1787-1860), who undertook work at Buckingham Palace, 1838-40, and is recorded working for Queen Victoria, 1850-3 (DEFM; Joy 1969 p.685). He later worked at Hackwood Park, 1850, under Lewis Wyatt. He died in 1862 leaving effects worth under £600.
Sources: John Martin Robinson, The Wyatts: an Architectural Dynasty, 1979, pp.157-60, to which this account is indebted; Gunnis 1968 p.446; Roscoe 2009. For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.
Updated August 2019
James Wyatt 1806-1828 or later, James Wyatt & Son by 1834-1853, James Wyatt junr 1853-1882. At 115 High St, Oxford 1806-1882. Printsellers and publishers, carvers and gilders, picture and looking glass framemakers, picture restorers.
James Wyatt (1774-1853) and his son, also James (1810-82), traded as a family concern in the High St in Oxford for more than 70 years. The father commissioned work from both J.M.W. Turner and John Everett Millais. For a well-illustrated account of Wyatt’s life and work, see Lynn Roberts’ excellent The Framemaker James Wyatt: Turner, Millais and Grinling Gibbons on The Frame Blog, July 2019.
James Wyatt senr was the son of an Oxford baker, Thomas Wyatt. He was apprenticed in 1790 to the Oxford carver, gilder and picture framemaker, Robert Archer (qv). In 1802 he was taken into partnership by Archer, an arrangement that lasted until 1806 (Jackson’s Oxford Journal 15 May 1802, 25 January 1806). He then set up in business on his own, announcing that he was opening a shop opposite All Saints Church in the High St (Jackson’s Oxford Journal 25 January 1806), advertising, ‘Colours, and every Article for Drawing. Paintings, Prints and Needle Work, neatly framed and glazed. Carving in all Kinds of Wood, Stone, &c. Concave and Convex Mirrors, Looking-Glass Plates of all Sizes with or without Frames, Girandoles, Sconces, and Bordering for Rooms. Old Frames new gilt, in Oil or burnished Gold’, later also advertising canvas for oil painting (Jackson’s Oxford Journal 12 April 1806).
Wyatt traded from 115 High St, and it seems that he occupied these particular premises in the High St from the outset. By 1810 he had begun to deal in pictures and prints, in particular advertising the arrival of J.M.W. Turner’s picture, High Street, Oxford (see below), and that it was to be engraved (Jackson’s Oxford Journal 31 March 1810 and subsequently). By 1823 he was listed as a printseller in Pigot's directory. He took several apprentices over the years, including his own sons, William and George. He was a customer of the London composition ornament maker, George Jackson (qv), 1831-6 (see Jackson account book, V&A Archive of Art and Design, AAD/2012/1/2/2).
Wyatt was a prominent figure in Oxford's public life and served as Mayor in 1842. He gave Roubiliac’s modello for Handel’s Westminster Abbey monument to the University Galleries, Oxford, in 1848 (Ashmolean Museum, see Penny 1992 p.153). He was curator of pictures at Blenheim Palace. A portrait of Wyatt by John Bridges, on loan to the City Council, has an elaborate frame carved with trophies portraying the tools of his trade. He was recorded in the 1841 census as a gilder and in 1851 as an alderman, age 77, with some of his children and grandchildren also resident in his household. He lived over his shop until his death in 1853. In his will, made 19 July 1848 and proved 29 September 1853, he left his premises and their appurtenances to his son James the younger, subject to him making payments to his brother and sisters. James Wyatt senr's collection was sold at Christie’s in July 1853.
Wyatt’s son, James Wyatt junr (1810-82), continued the business at 115 High St, Oxford. An exhibition of works by modern British artists, including the Pre-Raphaelites, was held at Oxford Town Hall in 1854; it has been suggested that it was put together by James Wyatt junr (see Colin Harrison, ‘An Exhibition at the Oxford Town Hall in 1854’, The Ashmolean, no.47, 2004, pp.12-13). In the 1851 census he was described as a printseller, living in his father’s household, in 1861 as a printseller and publisher, in 1871 as employing five men and one boy, and in 1881 as a printseller, age 70, still living at 115 High St, with his wife Eliza and daughter Florence. He died in 1882, leaving a personal estate of £6969, with his will proved by his wife Eliza. William Innes advertised as his successor in business.
Framing and picture cleaning work: Wyatt cleaned, varnished and hung various works in the Bodleian Library Picture Gallery, including frames, as recorded in his lengthy itemised bills: in 1810-11 for £2.10s, in 1831 for £25.19s.6d and, as Wyatt & Son, in a series of campaigns between 1837 and 1840 for a total of £71.3s.6d (Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, Library Records b.37, item 351; b.40, item 431; b.41, items 80, 211; b.42, item 58). In particular, he cleaned, repaired and varnished Thomas Bardwell’s Earl and Countess of Pomfret, together with its ‘gothic’ frames for £3 in 1832, and cleaned, repaired, varnished and reframed Allan Ramsay’s Flora Macdonald, for £3.15s in 1832. The Wyatt business continued to be employed in hanging, framing and restoring pictures at the Library until the 1860s, for example providing and glazing a richly carved oak and gilt frame for £14.14s in 1862 for a portrait of Sir Kenelm Digby (Library Records, b.46).
Wyatt worked for St John’s College, Oxford, cleaning and varnishing the pictures in the college hall and regilding their frames for £23.10s in 1810 and supplying a new frame for a portrait of John Rawlinson for £5.5s in 1825 (W.C. Costin, 'The History of St John's College Oxford, 1598-1860', Oxford Historical Society, vol.12, 1958, pp.238-9).
In 1809 James Wyatt commissioned two paintings from J.M.W. Turner, both for engraving, High Street, Oxford and Oxford from the Abingdon Road. Turner rejected the idea of fitting the works to existing frames, writing to Wyatt, ‘You may prepare a frame 2 feet 3 inches high by 3 Feet 3 long’. By May 1810 he was urging Wyatt to send the first frame so that he might show the picture in his own gallery. In 1812 both pictures were hung in the Royal Academy. Turner wrote, ‘As to the Frame it is very handsome’, but he feared that the crest might be damaged because of the way it was made.
James Wyatt later undertook work for the marine painter, E.W. Cooke, 1836-9, and framed his Undercliff Cave, 1836, owned by Robert Vernon (Tate, see Simon 1996 p.115). Wyatt was a patron of the young John Everett Millais from 1846, notably commissioning his own portrait with his granddaughter from Millais in 1849. Following Wyatt’s death, Millais described him as ‘the most upright fine old gentleman’ (Colin Harrison, Turner’s Oxford, 2000, p.76).
Presumably for the Oxford collector, Thomas Combe, printer to the University, and his wife, Wyatt framed two watercolours, David Cox’s The Vale of Festiniog and Alfred Hunt’s The Summit of Moel Siabod (Ashmolean Museum; see Bodleian Library, MS Top.Oxon.e.151, for notes made on the Combe bequest before deframing by the museum).Sources: DEFM; James Wyatt, Mayor of Oxford, Mayors of Oxford website, accessed 10 July 2019, to which the above account is indebted; John Gage (ed.), Collected Correspondence of J.M.W. Turner, 1980, pp.39, 43, 52; E.W. Cooke ledger 1833-78, Royal Academy Library, see also Munday 1996, especially pp.228, 375-9. Note also Catherine Roach, ‘The Artist in the House of His Patron: Images-within-Images in John Everett Millais's Portraits of the Wyatt Family’, Visual Culture in Britain, vol.9, 2008, pp.1-20. For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography