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British picture restorers, 1600-1950 - C

An online resource, launched in 2009, selectively updated twice yearly. Last updated September 2021. Contributions are welcome, to Jacob Simon at [email protected].

Introduction Resources and bibliography

[CH] [CL] [CO] [CR]

John Caldwell, 28 Marylebone St, Piccadilly, London 1843-1850, 29 Marylebone St 1851-1859. Picture restorer and artist.

John Caldwell (c.1803-1859) would appear to be the individual who married Mary Ann Goolby at St George Bloomsbury in 1837. He has not been traced in census records. He worked from Marylebone St, Piccadilly, but can be identified with the artist listed at 78 St John’s Wood Terrace from 1855 to 1859. John Caldwell, picture restorer at this address, died at the age of 55 in 1859 and was buried at Kensal Green cemetery. He left effects worth under £100, with his widow, Mary Ann Caldwell, appointed sole executrix of his will.

Little is known of Caldwell’s work. He is presumably the ‘J. Caldwell’ who cleaned and restored Lemuel Francis Abbott’s Lord Macartney with Sir George Staunton (National Portrait Gallery) for S.M. Caldwell for £16 in 1850, according to a receipt formerly on the back of the picture.

Updated March 2020
Joseph Henry Carter,
18 Abbey Gardens, London NW 1889, 36 Great Queen St, London WC 1890-1891, 24 Langham St, Portland Place, London W 1892-1893, 58 New Bond St, London W 1896-1898, J. Purves Carter, USA from c.1900, Canada from c.1905, Italy from c.1913. Picture restorer, picture dealer, collection cataloguer and artist.

Joseph Henry Carter (1862-1937), who later went by the name J. Purves Carter, was an extraordinary attention-seeking figure, with links to four countries, England, the United States of America, Canada and Italy. His life is traced here from official records and from his own self-promoting pamphlets. We can perhaps see an energetic young man, trained both as a picture restorer and as an art master, who tried teaching in the 1880s before going into picture dealing and restoration in the 1890s and then leaving his wife and son and moving to North America where he spent the 1900s and some of the next decade. He begins to explore Italy in the 1910s, both Florence and Rome, before turning again to teaching when he set up the Torrigiani Academy in the mid-1920s. He was by then in his sixties. He sold up and apparently retired in 1933. The following account is indebted to information kindly supplied by Elizabeth Walmsley, Michael Pantazzi, Michael O’Malley, Lycia Pavia, Richard Broakes Carter and Annick Tremblay.

He was born Joseph Henry Carter at 12 Arlington St in the Pancras district of London on 20 January 1862, the son of John Carter, a coach body maker, and his wife Catherine, née Purves or Purvis. He was named after his grandfather, Joseph Carter. Census records describe John Carter as a coach builder, born in Dorset. The family appears at 110 Carlton Road, Marylebone, St Pancras, in the 1871 census with three sons, the youngest, nine-year-old Joseph, born St Pancras, and one daughter, and in the 1881 census as before but without the father, and with Joseph, aged 18, now described as a picture restorer. Joseph has not been traced in subsequent British censuses. In later years he would trim a few years off his age for the purpose of ship arrival and departure records in England, Canada and the United States. In these records his name is usually given in full as Joseph Purves Carter, his nationality as English and his occupation as artist except on one occasion in 1925 when given as art expert. Once when asked to specify his religion he gave it as Catholic.

Carter may have married Mary Elizabeth Broackes (1867-1961), perhaps in about 1894 but the marriage remains to be documented. They had a son, christened Bernard Purvis Broackes (not Carter), in Hastings in May 1895. By the time of the 1901 census his wife was living with her parents in Cirencester, together with their son. In the 1911 census she was living with her son at St Annes-on-the-Sea in Lancashire, described as a widow and working as a ladies outfitter. At his marriage at Manchester in 1925 Bernard Carter named his father as Joseph Broakes-Carter, art critic, deceased.

Carter issued several promotional pamphlet, including A Record of Twenty-Five Years Expert Work in some of the principal galleries and collections of paintings in Great Britain and America, dating to 1906 or later (copy in Virginia State Library), and The Torrigiani Academy: founded by J. Purves Carter. The way to a career in the world of art, perhaps produced in the 1920s (University of California Libraries, available at, mid-1920s?, printed Paris, 20pp; fuller version, 1929 or later, printed Florence, 39pp, National Gallery of Canada Library, V&A National Art Library). They provide interesting but conflicting details of his career.

Britain, until c.1900: In his Record of Twenty-Five Years Expert Work, Carter claimed to have studied at the Royal Academy of Arts in London (but he is not found in the Academy’s Students Register). He also claimed to have taken the art master’s certificate at the National Training School, South Kensington, and to have worked under Henry Merritt (qv), restorer in the Royal Collection, under Sir Frederic Burton, Director of the National Gallery, and under Raffaelle Pinti (qv), restorer to the National Gallery, and Prof. A.H. Church, expert to the Royal Academy. Carter was only 15 years old when Merritt died in 1877 and 19 at Pinti’s death in 1881. He claimed to have worked as an art teacher at the ‘Charter House school of art’ (this may have been St Thomas Charterhouse School of Art in London, rather than the better-known Charterhouse School where he is not found in Charterhouse Register 1872-1910, 1911). He also claimed to have written innumerable essays, art notices and critiques to many journals (as yet largely untraced). He quotes numerous testimonials, those relating to work in Britain dating to between 1887 and 1895 and those relating to the United States, where dated, to 1906. Further details of his clientele are given in the final section below.

In the Torrigiani pamphlet, he made new and conflicting claims: to have been ‘placed with a renowned architect’ and then to have taken a practical course ‘with an equally renowned art decorator’. He claimed ultimately to have become the pupil of Raffaello Pinti and to have worked with him for many years until his death. He further claimed that he was then appointed as ‘chief expert to the Marquis of Bute to look after all his collections in his various residences’ (he certainly acted as a restorer for Lord Bute). And then as ‘personal assistant and expert restorer’ to Sir Charles Robinson, Surveyor of the Royal Collection (a claim as yet undocumented). And then as ‘chief expert in charge of the famous Henry Doetsch collections as well as the great George Salting collection’ (Carter’s name does not appear in the extensive sequence of Salting’s invoices in the Guildhall Library, London). Some of Carter’s claims should be treated with caution.

When Carter sold William Dyce's portrait, Sir Galbraith Lowry Cole, to the National Portrait Gallery in 1893, he was described by George Scharf, the then Director, as ‘assistant of the late Signor Pinti’ (National Portrait Gallery records, ‘Offers, vol. 6’, p.583; see also RP 946 and NPG Trustee meeting correspondence, meeting of 21 July 1892). At that stage he was operating from 24 Langham St, Portland Place. As Joseph Carter or Joseph Henry Carter, he can be found in London trade directories in 1889 as an artist at 18 Abbey Gardens NW, in 1890 and 1891 at 36 Great Queen St WC as a picture dealer (also as an artist at 83 Upper Gloucester Place NW in 1891). He reappears from 1896 to 1898 at 58 New Bond St as a picture restorer. His printed label, reading J.H. CARTER/ 58 New Bond St.,/ LONDON, W./ CATALOGUE No. [000], has been found on the reverse of pictures (Information from Marjorie Wieseman).

North America, from c.1900: It would appear that Carter adopted the name J. Purves Carter when he moved to America, adding his mother’s maiden name, Purves, to his own. This would seem to have been in around 1900 from the reference in his Record of Twenty-Five Years Expert Work of about 1906 to having practised his profession in America for upwards of six years. Much later, in his Torrigiani pamphlet, he claimed to have travelled to the United States for the Duveen Brothers, and then returned to America on his own account to execute important commissions for restoring many of the most valuable collections in the United States and Canada. Carter is documented as working for Duveen Brothers in the 1920s (see below) but there is no reason yet to doubt his claim to have worked for them at an earlier date. Carter not only restored oil and tempera paintings, accorded to this pamphlet, but also cleaned and restored watercolour drawings and prints, as well as preparing valuations and catalogues.

Carter may have first visited Quebec in 1905, according to the entry in a Canadian passenger list in November 1914; this list gives his religion as Catholic and his destination as Vancouver. Carter was in Canada for much of the period between 1907 and 1914, taking a studio in Montreal in 1907 (see Karel in Sources below). He published a Descriptive and Historical Catalogue of the Paintings in the Gallery of Laval University, Quebec in 1908, among other related publications, and restored pictures at Laval University, with which institution he claimed a close connection. A photograph shows Carter at work on the collection (repr. Karel p.25). For a full discussion of Carter’s work in Canada, see Annick Tremblay, Restauration et interprétation de l'oeuvre d'art: J. Purves Carter et la visibilité de la collection de peintures du Séminaire de Québec (1907-1912), master’s thesis, Université Laval, 2018, available at

Carter gave an interview to the New York American, published on 16 November 1908, exposing the trade in fake pictures exported from Europe to America, and attacking the authenticity of some paintings on loan to the Corcoran Gallery, Washington DC. There was a swift riposte from the Corcoran’s director (Washington Times 17 November 1908, information from Elizabeth Walmsley). Carter republished this interview, with an introduction and letters of appreciation, as The Great Picture Frauds (Quebec, 1909).

In the catalogue of ‘Libraries and Archives Canada’, some of Carter’s publications have erroneously been given to an undocumented figure, James Purves Carter (b.1877).

Italy and America, from c.1913: Carter may have begun to focus on Italy by about 1913 when he was first recorded as travelling from Italy to the United States. He arrived in Boston from Naples in March 1914, describing himself as an artist, unmarried, age 49, travelling in the United States and Canada, and in a passenger list later that year giving Florence as his place of residence.

Carter would put together collections for rich Americans and Canadians (as Michael Pantazzi has identified). He claimed to be able to offer low prices as a result of his shrewd dealing, buying pictures from old Italian families that had fallen on hard times (Long, p.34, in Sources below). But in fact many of his acquisitions were second or third rate. To take two of his clients, Norman Mackenzie and Eli Joseph.

Norman Mackenzie, a lawyer in Regina, Saskatchewan, an enthusiastic if naïve collector, at first used the London-based dealer, framemaker and restorer, W.M. Power (for Power, see British picture framemakers on this site), before turning to Carter in about 1914, a relationship which eventually broke down in recrimination in 1931 (see Long in Sources below, pp.32-4). Carter received a retainer from Mackenzie of $100 a month and produced lengthy letters describing his great discoveries (University of Alberta Library archives). Carter sold Mackenzie optimistically attributed pictures, including a Titian which was eventually exposed as a copy. Carter's last letter of 1931 to Mackenzie contained an extraordinary rant of recriminations, complaints about people who dishonoured him ‘so infamously’ and mild threats about publishing inconvenient documents (information from Michael Pantazzi).

Eli Joseph, a former New York scrap iron and steel dealer, employed Carter but fell out with him, leading to court action in 1923 (New York Times 26 July 1923). Carter was described as an English art expert, long resident in Italy. According to papers filed in court, he was in Rome in 1919. He stated that he had worked in New York on the restoration of a collection for Joseph, from October 1921 until May 1922, returning again to New York in December 1922. The case was settled out of court in 1924 (New York Times 3 April 1924).

In Florence, Carter came to know the restorer-dealers: Emilio and David Costantini (father and son) and Luigi Grassi (whose opinion on works of art he referred to in correspondence). The forger, Umberto Giunti (1886-1970), a student of the notorious Federico Joni, was living in Carter's house by 1925 but it is not clear whether Carter was aware of his activities. The above information has kindly been supplied by Michael Pantazzi.

In the 1920s Carter travelled almost yearly between Europe and America, generally to New York, embarking from Southampton, Cherbourg or Genoa. In the early 1920s he gives his residence as Rome but in 1925 and 1926 he specifies the Villa Torrigiani as his address (at Quinto, Sesto Fiorentino, near Florence), suggesting that he may by then have set up the Torrigiani Academy. He described this as ‘a private Academy where art lovers could pursue their studies on thorough and scientific lines’. He would teach them ‘art in all, or any of, its branches, and particularly the science of restoring and cleaning paintings’.

In May 1933 a sale of his collection was held at the Villa Torrigiani including 443 lots of fairly minor old master paintings and artistic and English furniture (copy of catalogue, V&A National Art Library). In the catalogue ‘Prof. J. Purves Carter’ was said to be returning to his native country for family reasons. He is documented as arriving in England from Genoa in May 1934, describing himself as an artist resident in Italy, age 66, and giving 31 Old Burlington St as his address (the decorators, Lenygon and Morant Ltd, were then listed here in the London directory). His wife, also described as an artist, age 62, travelled to Genoa in September that year.

Carter died in Florence in 1937 (information kindly supplied by Lycia Pavia, née Giola; her step father, Filippo Purves Carter, was the son of Giuseppe Purves Carter (d.1980), Joseph Purves Carter's first son by his later marriage).

Restoration work: Carter published a long list of collections in the United States, Canada and England which he claimed to have cleaned, lined, restored or catalogued. The focus here is on Britain but brief mention is made of his work in Canada and the United States. The occasional date is derived from printed testimonials in Carter’s Record of Twenty-Five Years Expert Work and in the Torrigiani pamphlet (c.1929 edition).

Carter’s list of clients in England is given here in full, rearranged by category, as a record of work claimed to have been carried out by himself, or perhaps under Merritt before his death in 1877, or under Pinti before his death in 1881: Museums and institutions: Fitzwilliam Collection, Cambridge University, and the National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery and Royal Academy, in London and the Order of St Theresa, Lanherne Convent, St Columb, Cornwall (while Merritt worked for the Fitzwilliam, the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery, and Pinti for the National Gallery, there is no evidence that Carter worked for these institutions in his own right). Artists: Seymour Lucas and the Chevalier Eduoardo de Martino (‘Queen Victoria's marine painter’). Curators, collectors and academics: Sir J.C. Robinson, George Salting and Prof. A.H. Church of the Royal Academy (1890). The aristocracy: Col. FitzGeorge (for the Duke of Cambridge), Duke of Richmond, Marquis of Bute (1887-92), Marquis of Northampton, Earl Amherst, Earl of Lucan, Earl of Orford of Mannington Hall, Norfolk (1895), Earl Spencer and Lady Victoria Wellesley. Others, alphabetically: Sir Wm Abdy, Rev. W.G. Beardmore, James Brand of Sanderstead Court, Surrey, Rev. A.E. Clementi-Smith (1890), John Corry, Rev. W.J. Dawson, Adm De Kautzow, Henry Doetsch (valuation, 1894), Sir George Donaldson, Major-Gen. Alex. Elliot, Gen. Eyre, Messrs Gillow, William Graham, Col. Robert Gunter, MP, Sir Edward Tracey Hardinge, Col. Henry Cornwall Legh, Frederik Leyland, Dr Lowe, Col. Hector MacKenzie, Sir Edward Malet, ex-Ambassador to Berlin, the Markham family (valuations, 1892-5), David Price, Sir Richard Greene Price, Bart, Frederick Sellar, Bisset Scott, Charrington Smith, S.D. Waddy, QC, MP, Miss Williams of Oswestry and Brydges Willyams.

As Joseph H. Carter, he published catalogues of two collections mentioned above: that of ’Lady Victoria Tylney Long Wellesley’ at West Stoke House, Chichester, and 59 Portland Place, London (c.1895, copy in Bodleian Library, Oxford), and that at High Legh Hall, the seat of Lt-Col. Henry Cornwall Legh (copy in Barber Fine Art Library, Birmingham).

Among some 50 clients claimed in the United States: Stanford White, Arthur Tooth & Sons and Duveen Bros in New York, Francis Bartlett (1906) and Nathaniel Thayer in Boston, J.G. Johnson and P.A.B. Widener in Philadelphia, Mrs Charles Bradley in Providence (1906), Ruxton M. Ridgely (1909) and others in Baltimore, James Dudley Morgan (1909) and numerous others in Washington DC. For Duveen Bros, Carter undertook restoration work, 1924-6, including on Titian’s Giorgio Cornaro with a Falcon in 1924 (now Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha, Nebraska) and on British and other paintings for the Edith Kingdon Gould estate in 1926 (information from Elizabeth Walmsley; for Duveen Bros records, see Sources below). He also worked on two paintings now in the Detroit Instiute of Arts (information from Michael Pantazzi), Madonna and Child by a Duccio follower, purchased 1924 (inv. 24.97), and a Madonna and Child with Sants ascribed to Matteo di Giovanni, gift of Mrs Horace E. Dodge, 1929 (inv. 29.24).

In Canada, among more than 24 claimed clients: the University of Laval, Quebec (1908), the ‘Montreal Public National Gallery’, the archbishops of Halifax, Vancouver and Regina, the bishops of Rimouski, Calgary, St John, New Brunswick, the paintings of the Cathedral of St John, New Brunswick, in the Shrine of St Anne de Beaupré, Quebec, and of the Cathedral of Rivière-du-Loup, Quebec. As Michael Pantazzi has identified, Carter’s list of Montreal collectors contains none of the major names except Sir William Van Horne, a fastidious collector who is not known to have employed Carter in any significant way.

Sources: This account is indebted to Elizabeth Walmsley, National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, for information received August 2011 and January 2014 including on Carter’s self-promoting pamphlets; to Lycia Pavia, ‘Pavia Restauro’ conservation studio, Rome, for information, March 2014, on Carter’s later years in Florence; to Michael Pantazzi, Canada, for information, April 2014, on Carter’s dealing and collecting activities, and on the essay by Timothy Long, ‘The Collector and the Collection’, in W.A. Riddell (ed.), The Mackenzie Art Gallery: Norman Mackenzie's Legacy, 1990; and to Michael O’Malley, Centre de conservation du Québec, Quebec, who drew my attention to the article by David Karel, ‘Qui est J. Purves Carter?’, Univers cité: collections pour voir, collections pour savoir, in Chroniques de l'Amérique française, no.3, Quebec, Musée de l'Amérique française, 1993, pp.25-6.

For the Royal Academy Students Register, I am grateful for information, February 2014, from Karine Sarant-Hawkins, Research Assistant, Royal Academy Library. For UK, Boston, New York and Canadian ship passenger lists, see For Duveen Bros records, Getty Research Institute, see Duveen Brothers stock photographs and records, 1829-1965, series VIII, listed at Duveen Brothers Resources (Getty Research Institute), not consulted by the present author.

Added January 2017
Thomas Carter (c.1850-1926 or later). Cabinet maker and art restorer.

Thomas Carter was born in London in about 1850. In census records he can be found in Camden Town in 1891 and 1901 as a cabinet maker and in 1911 as an art restorer at the Victoria and Albert Museum. By the time of the 1911 census, he and his wife Sarah had been married 37 years, with only three of their eight children then still living.

Carter was recommended for employment in the Art Repairing Room at the South Kensington Museum, later the Victoria and Albert Museum, in 1893. He retired from the museum at the age of 76 in 1926 after more than 32 years service (information from Harriet Reed, V&A Archive, April 2016).

Carter undertook some panel work for the National Gallery (qv), 1916-20, including laying down Palma Vecchio’s Portrait of a Poet on a veneered poplar back for £4.6s in 1916 (National Gallery archive, NG13/1/9) and work on a picture by Turner for £2.14s in 1917, apparently Dido Directing the Equipment of the Fleet (Tate). At the National Gallery, he was described as a ‘technical expert in woods’.

Nathaniel Castile 1826-1857, (Nathaniel) Castile & Son 1858-1887, Nathaniel Castile 1887-1907. At25 Charlotte St, Fitzroy Square, London 1826-1830, 6 Chapel St, Tottenham Court Road 1831-1857, 27a Upper George St 1856-1857, 5 Dorset St, Portman Square 1858-1887, 10 New Quebec St W 1888-1906, 21 New Quebec St 1907. Carvers and gilders, the son a picture restorer by 1892.

See British picture framemakers on this website.

William Chalmers 1799-1819, William Chalmers & Son 1820-1823, Chalmers & Son 1823-1841. At Alison's Close, Edinburgh 1799-1803, Back Stairs 1804-1810, High St 1811, 243 High St 1812, 270 Canongate 1813-1814, 118 High St 1815-1820, 6 Waterloo Place 1820, 11 Waterloo Place 1820, 115 High St 1821-1826, 153 High St 1821-1825, 118 High St 1823-1828, 45 Princes Street 1829-1831, 42 Princes St 1832-1835, 17 West Register St 1836, 20 West Register St 1837-1840. Carvers and gilders, picture cleaners, later also printsellers and picture cleaners.

See British picture framemakers on this website.

Chambers, London to c.1725, New York c.1726-1734, London from 1734. Painter, copyist, picture restorer.

When Chambers visited Lord Percival in September 1735 to add inscriptions to Percival’s family portraits, he gave him an account of his life. A Scotsman, he painted at Edinburgh under Sir John Medina. To quote Percival, ‘Afterwards he went with his father in 1709 into Spain, and was four years there in the wars with his father, who was a Captain of horse, and had procured him an Ensign’s commission which he lost by being taken prisoner in the town of Brihegua with General Stanhope, afterwards Secretary of State. From thence returning he worked with Mr. [Edward] Gouge… Mr. Chambers leaving the service of Mr. Gouge, worked afterwards for Mr. Eykman [William Aikman] in Leicester Fields… Then he went for nine years to New York, and returned last September. His business is only copying and cleaning pictures, and sometimes lettering them at a penny a letter, which is the price I pay him.’ (Historical Manuscripts Commission, Manuscripts of the Earl of Egmont. Diary of the First Earl of Egmont (Viscount Percival),vol.2, 1923, p.192).

According to George Vertue, apparently writing in the early 1740s (Vertue vol.5, p.12), Chambers, presumably the same man, cleaned 500-600 pictures in Scotland at the Duke of Hamilton’s country house and at Holyrood House, Edinburgh, apparently including portraits by Van Dyck, paintings by Titian and Raphael, Rubens’s Daniel in the Lions’ Den (National Gallery of Art, Washington DC) and the Somerset House Conference (National Portrait Gallery, ex-Hamilton collection).

For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.

*Judith Chantry (1943-1999). Paper conservator at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, from 1975.

Outside the time frame of this online resource, but see obituaries by Nancy Bell, The Quarterly: The Journal of the British Association of Paper Historians, no.32, December 1999, p.11, and Helen Whitehouse, The Ashmolean, no.38, 2000, pp.2-3.

Chapman Brothers 1874-1916, Chapman Bros (Chelsea) Ltd 1917-1964. At251 King's Road, Chelsea, London SW3 1874-1911, 241 King's Road 1908-1964, works 245a King's Road 1912-1964, warehouse 11 Church St, Chelsea 1913-1947. Carvers and gilders, picture framemakers, by 1915 also picture dealers and restorers.

See British picture framemakers on this website.

*C. Chapuis c.1870-1896, Chapuis et Cie from1896, Brisson fréres c.1899-1910, Brisson 1911-1915, Brisson & Leguay from 1915. At 20 Quai de la Mégisserie, Paris from 1873 onwards, 2 Rue des Bourdonnais, Paris from or before 1882 onwards, also at 4 Rue des Bourdonnais. Picture liners and restorers, suppliers of canvases and picture frames.

Claude Chapuis (1829-1908) lies outside the scope of this online resource but for his work for James McNeill Whistler in Paris and the Duc d’Aumale in England. He was a picture liner for the National Museums of France and undertook a range of other restoration work. He has been the subject of recent research by Emilie Barbet in a thesis for the Ecole du Louvre, Laetitia Desserrières in an article on his master, Emile Mortemard, and by Ann Hoenigswald in an article on his nephew, Charles Chapuis (see Sources below).

The origins of Chapuis’s business can be traced back to the mid-18th century to Jean Louis Hacquin (d.1783). He was followed by his son, François Toussaint Hacquin (1756-1832), whose son-in-law, Augustin Emile Mortemard (1794-1872) was described as his pupil and successor in 1832 (‘son élève, est son successeur’, see Guyot de Fere, Annuaire des artistes français, 1832, p.87, accessed through Google book search). Elsewhere, Hacquin’s son-in-law has been identified as Guilloux Mortemard (1794-1870) (see Bergeon in Sources below).

Claude Chapuis: More information is required to confirm that the restorer is indeed the Claude Chapuis who married Henriette Hacquin in Paris at the age of 19 in 1848, when he was described as a mason (accessible at She was born in 1828, the daughter of Jean François Henri Hacquin but a relationship to François Toussaint Hacquin remains to be established.

Chapuis trained as a liner and restorer under Mortemard and was sufficiently well-established by 1868 to be taken into partnership by Mortemard and his second wife, Louise Laborde, trading as Mortemard et Cie (see Desserrières p.68 and n.51). After 1870 Mortemard retired, leaving Chapuis ‘la Maison de commerce’, its goodwill, tools and materials (Desserrières p.69). In 1873 Chapuis moved his workshop to 20 Quai de la Mégisserie (Desserrières p.72, n.64). In 1882 he was listed at 20 Quai de la Mégisserie and 2 Rue des Bourdonnais as ‘rentoileur des musées du Louvre et des palais nationaux, maison spéciale de rentoilage, marouflage et transport de peintures sur bois, sur toile et à la fresque’ (Ris-Paquot, Annuaire Artistique Collectionneurs 1882-1883, year 2, c.1882, accessed through ‘Internet Archive’).

It should be noted that Claude Chapuis’s nephew, Charles Chapuis (b.1862), was also a picture liner, trading at 4 rue Cretet. He treated paintings for Edgar Degas, as Hoenigswald describes in detail, and he worked for the dealer, Ambroise Vollard. There was also an artists’ colour merchant by the name of Chapuis et Cie trading at 35 rue de Chazelles, 1888-97, and from 15 rue Clément-Marot from at least 1894 until as late as 1910 (Clotilde Roth-Meyer, Les Marchands de couleurs à Paris au XIXe siècle, PhD thesis, Université Paris Sorbonne, 2004, for pre-1900 Paris Almanach addresses); this business was trading as Chapuis veuve et Cie by 1901 but is not demonstrably connected with Claude Chapuis (who did not die until 1908).

Brisson frères: In 1896, when Claude Chapuis would have been 67, the business began trading as Chapuis et Cie, and in 1899 the role of his nephews, ‘Brisson frères’, was formalised, apparently Fernand Brisson and his brother, A. Brisson (Barbet, p.50/56, and annex 6, document 35). In 1900 ‘Messieurs Brisson’, as Whistler calls them, were clearly identified with the business, and by 1901, if not before, they were listed as Chapuis’s successors (Paris Almanach, 1901, under businesses). Claude Chapuis died in 1908. There is a lengthy entry in the Paris Almanach in 1910 (p.2918), describing the business as founded in 1740, tracing it to the ‘ancien maison’, Mortemard, and naming it as ‘Brisson frères neveux succ[esseurs]… rentoileurs des Musées nationaux, Beaux Arts, Arts décoratifs: parquetage, marouflage et restauration; transpositions de peintures sur bois, sur toiles et à fresques’. By 1911 the business was trading as ‘Brisson Neveu & Successeur de Chapuis’, rather than Brisson fréres, according to its invoice paper (repr. Techné, no.33, 2011, frontispiece).

In July 1915 Brisson sold the goodwill in the business to Leguay but almost immediately proceded to enter into an agreement for a 10-year partnership from 1 August as Brisson & Leguay, ‘rentoilage et restauration’ (Archives Commerciales de la France, 31 July 1915 p.2095, 25 September 1915 p.2122, accessed through Gallica). Although it continued to trade as Brisson & Leguay, it was Leguay’s name as successor which was given prominence as a 1922 invoice shows. By 1933 the business was described as Henri Leguay, successor to A. Brisson & Leguay, ‘anc. Maison Chapuis’ (Almanach du commerce de Paris). Leguay worked for Duveen brothers in the 1920s (Elizabeth Walmsley, ‘Italian Renaissance Paintings Restored in Paris by Duveen Brothers Inc., c.1927-1929’, Facture, vol.1, 2013).

Work for Whistler: James McNeill Whistler used Maison Chapuis in the late 1890s, as is apparent from three of his paintings bearing Chapuis’s stretcher stamp and from his correspondence, 1898-1901. Interestingly he chose to go to Claude Chapuis despite his work for the Louvre being criticised by Whistler’s erstwhile good friend, Degas, in 1894 and subsequently.

In October 1898, Whistler asked Rosalind Birnie Philip, his sister-in-law, who was in Paris, to drive over to Chapuis to find out whether he was ‘getting on all right with the two ovals – and his frames’ and to ask him ‘to put in hand at once a dozen more canvasses of the same sizes as the last – there were two measurements… say then a dozen of each – say they are for heads, and that I want them at once – Exactly like the last only not quite so black’. In this context it is worth noting three oval paintings in the Hunterian Art Gallery, stamped ‘MAISON CHAPUIS’ on their stretchers, Harmony in Rose and Green: Carmen, c.1898, Violet and Rose: Carmen qui rit, c.1898, and A Paris Model, c.1895-9 (see Hunterian online database, accessed March 2013).

In March 1900, Whistler told Arthur Haythorne Studd to send a picture to ‘Messieurs Brisson, Maison Chapuis’ for repair, adding that ‘Chapuis shall do everything under my personal direction’ and saying that ‘They do everything for the Louvre’, later telling him that his picture had been ‘beautifully repaired’; this may be Symphony in White, No. 2: The Little White Girl, 1864 (Tate).

Whistler’s Self-Portrait, c.1896, has the stretcher stamp: Maison CHAPUIS/ BRISSOE (?) Freres, Neveux (?) Successeurs (?)/ 20 quai de la Magisserie/ 2. Rue des Bourdonnis (?) 2 (Hunterian Art Gallery). It remains to be ascertained whether Maison Chapuis worked on this picture for Whistler himself or for Rosalind Birnie Philip after Whistler’s death in her capacity as manager of his estate.

Other restoration work: Chapuis travelled to England in 1869 for Mortemard et Cie to treat pictures in the collection of the exiled Duc d’Aumale at Orleans House in Twickenham, restoring 73 paintings between April and September (Barbet, pp.18-24, and annex 3 for detailed information; Desserrières, p.69). Chapuis undertook the major task of restoring Van der Weyden’s Beaune altarpiece, 1875-8 (Hospices de Beaune, see Gerin-Pierre in Sources below). His other customers, listed by Barbet and Hoenigswald, included the national museums of France, notably the Louvre, where he was employed on several major tasks, the paintings collection at Chantilly and pictures in Stockholm. Rosa Bonheur’s The Farm at the Entrance of the Woods, has the stretcher stamp: Maison CHAPUIS/ Brisson Frères, Neveux & Successeurs/ Rentoileurs des Musees Nationaux/ 20 Quai de la Mégisserie/ 2 Rue de Bourdonnais 2 (Cleveland Museum of Art, see Louise d'Argencourt, European Paintings of the 19th Century, Cleveland Museum of Art, 1999, p.40).

Sources: For Chapuis, see Emilie Barbet, Claude Chapuis (1829-1908), rentoileur des musées nationaux, élève et successeur de Mortemard, [unpublished] mémoire de l’Ecole du Louvre, Paris, 2008, and Ann Hoenigswald, ‘Charles Chapuis: Degas’ “picture doctor” and painting restoration at the end of the nineteenth century’, in Isabelle Brajer (ed.), Conservation in the Nineteenth Century, 2013, pp.67-79. For François Toussaint Hacquin, see Emmanuelle Philippe, ‘Innover, connaître et transmettre: L'art de la restauration selon François-Toussaint Hacquin (1756-1832)’, Technè: la science au service de l'histoire de l'art et des civilisations, no.27-28 (double issue), 2008, pp.53-9. For Emile Mortemard, see Laetitia Desserrières, ‘La restauration des supports de peintures au XIXe siècle: le rentoileur Émile Mortemard (1794-1872)’,La revue des musées de France: revue du Louvre, October 2009, pp.64-72. For Guilloux Mortemard, see Ségolène Bergeon et al., ‘The Restoration of Wooden Painting Supports: two hundred years of history in France’, in Kathleen Dardes and Andrea Rothe (eds.), The Structural Conservation of Panel Paintings, 1998, pp.264-88. For the Beaune altarpiece, see Claire Gerin-Pierre, ‘La première restauration du retable de Beaune au Louvre (1875-1878)’, Technè: la science au service de l'histoire de l'art et des civilisations, no.33, 2011, pp.86-95.>

Contributed by Ibby Lanfear, September 2018
The Charterhouse,
London, founded 1611

‘Mendinge with payntinge’: a history of painting restoration at the London Charterhouse 

When Rowland Buckett charged the governors of the Charterhouse in 1626 for ‘mendinge with payntinge and guildinge the wanscott in the said assemblie chamber’, [1] he was not to realise that he was recording perhaps the first documented painted restoration of Thomas Sutton’s Charity, or that he was so neatly summarising a technique that could be said to have characterised the restoration and subsequent appearance of the Charterhouse paintings from the seventeenth century to the mid twentieth. Research into the extensive Charterhouse archives, dating from the foundation of Sutton’s Hospital in 1611, has enabled a fresh glimpse into the history and practice of painting restoration, and sheds some interesting light on changing attitudes within the institution to the care of paintings over nearly three hundred years.

The seventeenth century
Purchased by Thomas Sutton, purportedly the wealthiest commoner in England, in the early seventeenth century, the London Charterhouse had previously functioned as a burial ground for victims of the 1348 outbreak of the Black Death, as a leading Carthusian monastery and, following the Dissolution, as a Tudor mansion. In 1611, Sutton established the buildings as his 'Hospital of King James', an almshouse and school, and ensured his Foundation's continued success by appointing sixteen of England's wealthiest and most pre-eminent citizens to serve as Governors. Though the school was moved to Godalming in the nineteenth century, Thomas Sutton's Hospital continues to operate as an almshouse on its original site today. Its seventeenth-century painting collection was largely acquired following the restoration of Charles II, and consists of full and three-quarter length portraits of the Founder and Restoration era Governors. Belonging to the wealthiest and most important charity in Britain in the seventeenth century, [2] the portraits include depictions of some of the most powerful and influential men of the day, such as Charles II, George Villiers, 2nd Duke of Buckingham, James Scott, Duke of Monmouth, Anthony Ashley Cooper, 1st Earl of Shaftesbury, and Gilbert Sheldon, Archbishop of Canterbury.

With the exception of a signed and dated portrait of Master Thomas Burnet by Sir Godfrey Kneller, most of the works are versions, or workshop productions, of known originals by Gerard van Honthorst, Sir Peter Lely, John Greenhill and Kneller, and are discussed in depth elsewhere. [3] All but three have been housed in heavy, gilded late 18th-century frames since at least 1868. [4] The archives demonstrate that from the time of their acquisition to the bombing of the Charterhouse in May 1941, most of the paintings hung in the original Long Gallery in the Master’s House. Throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries these apartments were subject to many architectural changes and divisions, [5] and the physical history of the paintings is intimately tied to the material and decorative history of these rooms. From the time of its creation in the early seventeenth century, the Master’s House functioned as the Charity’s showpiece, and as each incumbent to the Mastership took possession of his quarters, he imposed his own decorative vision, in which the paintings played a principle role in the room that became known as the Governors’ Room. The material fate of the collection is primarily therefore linked to the understanding and esteem in which it was held by individual Masters, and their choice of craftsman to restore the paintings. Secondary documentary sources and a close examination of the paintings themselves leave us in no doubt that their treatment at the hands of restorers, wall paperers, artists, house painters and domestic cleaners has had a significant impact on their changing visual appearance. 

Rowland Buckett was just one of many ‘paynter-stayners’ that undertook work for the Charity in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and his discursive bills clearly demonstrate the many and varied roles that a painter might undertake for the institution. In November 1626, the same month that he mended the wainscot in the Assembly Chamber, he also charged for the major work of painting and gilding the elaborate chimney piece in the Great Chamber, as well as gilding the newly installed Organ in the Chapel. [6] In an age, unlike our own, where the mending of all material goods was not only routine but mandatory, and institutions developed long standing relationships with individual craftsmen, it is unsurprising that the lines between creation and repair or ‘mendinge’ were slim, and the care of paintings proved no exception. Contemporary artists’ handbooks included chapters on restoration, and the advice reflects the diverse nature of the painter’s role in seventeenth-century England. In his recommendations for the ‘cleaning of any old Painting’ William Salmon, in his 1672 Polygraphice, advises:

If your painting be Wainscotting, or any other Joynery or Carpentry Work, you may take the Woodashes. . . and mixing them somewhat thick with Water, rub them over the Painting, with a Stiff Bristle Brush, as a Shoo Brush, and so scour, wash and dry it. . . and then varnish it with common varnish. . . But if the Painting be more curious, as Figures of Men, Beasts, Landskips, Floweres, Fruits, etc, then take Smalt only and with a Sponge wet in Water, cleanse it. . . and gently. . . wash with fair Water, then dry and varnish it, so will the lustre and glory of your Painting be much recovered. [7]

While the growth of technical literature in the second half of the seventeenth century undoubtedly increased amateur access to painting and drawing, it perhaps also opened the gates for many would-be restorers, and the authors often add a cautionary note. William Salmon continues, ‘This cleaning of Paintings, ought not to be practised but seldom (viz. when it is very much soyled) because often and too frequent cleanings in this kind, will by degrees wear off Part of the Colours’, while the anonymous author of the 1688 Excellency of the Pen and Pencil counsels, ‘have a great care of the Shadows; for by the ignorance of many persons many good picture hath been abused.’ [8] 

The eighteenth century
This concern for the treatment of paintings reflects a wider cultural awareness of the physical plight of material artefacts such as pictures that by the eighteenth century can be seen in the writings of, for example, Horace Walpole, [9] and the influential 3rd Earl of Shaftesbury. [10] At the Charterhouse, Master Thomas Burnet was the first to demonstrate an immediate interest in the paintings on his accession to the Mastership in 1685, when a Mr Mardike carried out the ‘varnishing of the Founder’s 2 pictures by ye Master’s order’. [11] Significantly, Mardike was not the painter routinely employed by the Charterhouse at the time, and in his choice of a presumably more specialist craftsman, the deeply cultured Burnet may have been demonstrating an early awareness of the importance of the Charity’s tangible history. Indeed, by the end of his Mastership in 1715, Burnet had also called for ‘an inventory [to] be made of ye goodes and householde stuffe of ye Hospital’, [12] and in doing so echoed the broader cultural considerations of the early eighteenth century.

In his concern for the collection, Burnet may have been influenced by the eminent antiquarian, and a founder of the new Society of Antiquaries, John Bagford, then a Brother of the Charterhouse. The year after Bagford’s death in 1716, George Vertue was appointed official engraver to the Society, and the Charterhouse paintings are probably fortunate to have entered his orbit in the 1720s. A presumed friend and associate of fellow antiquary, old Carthusian, Preacher and later Charterhouse Master Philip Bearcroft, in the 1720s and ‘30s Vertue was a sometime visitor to the Hospital, and his notes on the early painting collection have proved a valuable resource. [13] It is perhaps through Vertue, who appears to have known his father, that the ‘eminent picture cleaner’ [14] Isaac Collivoe junior, was employed by the Charity to restore the two portraits of the Founder, in time for the publication of Bearcroft’s Historical Account of Thomas Sutton in 1737 and the anticipated renewal of interest in his person and representation. On 30 June 1735 Collivoe was paid £5.5s for ‘cleaning and mending ye Founder’s picture’ [15] and on 16 April 1737 12s for ‘cleaning ye Founder’s picture’; [16] the former presumably the full length commissioned by the Governors in 1657, the latter the smaller painting which may have been commissioned in c.1617-18.

In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the Master’s House, and the Governors’ Room within it, underwent considerable alterations. The earliest portrait of the Founder, together with the Restoration era portraits, played a significant role in its changing appearance. The tenure of Philip Bearcroft, from 1753 to 1761, with that of his predecessor Nicholas Mann, and successor Samuel Salter, saw perhaps the most extravagant re-decoration of the Master’s apartments, and no expense was spared in their elaborate embellishment. In 1748, acclaimed wood carver Sefferin Alken was employed to create ‘A Rich Frame’ for the earliest portrait of Sutton, with ‘2 memrs [members] Carved – and 2 men figures with Lorrel [Laurel] and Palms – and 2 boys with Mathematical Instruments and Books and with a Shield to Top, with arms. Bold foliage Carv’d with other Enrichments all neatly finished and Gilt in Burnished Gold.’ [17] It was described by Robert Smythe in 1808 as ‘very finely carved, with figures of aged men, boys consulting globes, mathematical instruments, scrolls and the Sutton arms richly gilt’. [18]

By 1753 the frame and portrait functioned as the centrepiece of an elaborate and specifically designed overmantel, [19] requested by Master Philip Bearcroft. Further demonstrating his reverence for the physical and illustrious history of the Charity, the seventeenth-century paintings were restored as a collection for the first time shortly after his accession. This is seen in the bill of Wharton Ray (or Rae), dated 12 July 1754, with £18.2s paid ‘on the account of the Charterhouse’ on 20 August. In his bill Ray charges £9.9s ‘To cleaning and lineing six whole length Pictures of K. Charles ye 2nd, Duke of Monmouth, Duke of Shrewsbury, Lord Craven and archbishop Sheldon’, and £1.11s.6d ‘To cleaning two [full lengths] of the Founder and first Earl of Pembroke’, this now including a second full length of Thomas Sutton, commissioned by Bearcroft in the 1730s from painter Hans Hysing. Six half length paintings were also cleaned and lined at a cost of £6.6s and three other smaller paintings cleaned. [20]

Immediately following their restoration in 1754, and once more illustrating his regard for the portraits and historical fabric of the Charity, Philip Bearcroft incorporated the paintings into an elaborate papier-mâché decorative scheme, created by renowned paper stainer and upholsterer Thomas Bromwich, who in the same year carried out significant decorative work at Strawberry Hill. In his bill, totalling the large sum of £60.15s.6d, Bromwich includes charges for:

Ornamenting Masters lodgings with papier maché Ornaments,
Ornamenting a ceiling with fine papier maché
Ditto the Cove of ditto
Ditto 6 large whole length picture frames
2 small ditto
Ornamenting 2 glasses and between the Picture Frames. [21]

Bearcroft’s extravagance was clearly not aesthetically appreciated by his successor Samuel Salter, who in June 1762 re-called Thomas Bromwich, now operating as Bromwich and Leigh, to take down the ornaments. The firm were again employed in the re-decoration of the Governors’ room, and once more, the paintings formed a significant part of the visual scheme. In June 1762 Bromwich charged the Charity £3.3s for ‘9 days work 2 men cleaning and painting picture frames white and sides of the room with fine blue.’ He also spent ‘1 day putting up a picture over the library chimney’ and used ‘8 yards of papier maché mould for round the picture’. [22] Prior to the interior decorative work, and echoing the actions of Bearcroft eight years earlier, Salter had seen fit to have the paintings restored by a professional. For the second time Isaac Collivoe junior was called to carry out the work, and it is perhaps a testament to the importance of the Charterhouse as a client, that he found time to undertake significant treatments for the Charity within his busy schedule. [23]

On 22 April 1762, Collivoe’s bill included charges for ‘writing the inscriptions on 3 pictures. . . writing labels on 2 pictures. . . washing and varnishing several pictures and writing labels on the same.’ [24] In line with the then not uncommon practice of altering pictures in size, he also charged 15s for ‘cleaning a ¾ of the Earl of Wilmington and making it into an oval’, [25] as well as providing two oval gold frames for this and a small portrait of John Sheffield, Duke of Buckingham. These paintings continue to hang as a pair in the Charterhouse today. While in the mid-eighteenth century the extensive work of a variety of craftsmen in the Master’s apartments would suggest that money was no object, in fact the archives also demonstrate that the decoration and upkeep of these grand rooms placed a considerable financial burden, both on the Charity, and on individual Masters, and fiscal responsibility for their upkeep and repair is not always clear. ‘The question of the expenditure on the Master’s Lodge and what assistance could be given to the Master in the upkeep of the Governors’ Room in the Master’s Lodge’ [26] is one which occurs in the sources with relative regularity. Financial concerns almost certainly played a part in the Master’s choice of restorer, and indeed, whether the paintings were ‘properly’ restored at all. It is therefore perhaps indicative of financial considerations that only two months after Collivoe’s work, wall paperers Bromwich and Leigh also undertook some painting restoration as part of their extensive alterations to the interior scheme in the Master’s House. Charging just £1 for ‘cleaning and mending 3 picture frames, cleaning the pictures and mending others’, [27] their presumably less specialised approach was far cheaper than Collivoe’s, who in April had charged £1.11s.6d for ‘cleaning a ½ length of the Earle of Shaftesbury in bad condition.’ [28]

The nineteenth century
In the nineteenth century, awareness of the Charterhouse paintings increased as the collection was frequently discussed in published works, including guidebooks to London. [29] Though authors shamelessly borrow from common sources, they often include comments on the appearance and condition of the portraits that indicate a personal visit, and today enable us to create a picture of the paintings’ changing visual appearance. In 1803 the author of Londinium Redivivum describes the collection in the Governors’ Room, ‘The frames of all these pictures are of stucco and white: and between them are white ornaments on a blue ground.’ [30]

From this description it is clear that Samuel Salter’s scheme had largely survived intact and there is no record of painting restoration in the intervening forty years, but for a portrait of Lord Macclesfield, cleaned and lined by John Anderson in 1771. [31] However, this was to change, and the environmental impact of an increasingly industrialised London can be seen to have had considerable ramifications for the frequency of re-painting in the Master’s Rooms, and the condition and subsequent treatment of the paintings. In his Historical Account of the Charterhouse in 1808, Robert Smythe recalls the Governors’ room in the Master’s House ‘splendidly fitted up’ and containing paintings which ‘have been recently cleaned and judiciously repaired.’ [32] The ‘judicious repairer’ was in fact Thomas Stowers, who, in his 1805 bill for routine work as the Charity’s house painter includes charges for the restoration of the entire seventeenth century collection:[33]

Paid for a new whole stretching frame and fresh varnishing the Founder’s picture   £0.10.6
To Cleaning the Founder’s Picture and Varnishing the Picture, Painting the Frame black in Varnish and gilding the inner molding.   £1.8.6
To Cleaning and Varnishing a three quarter portrait of an Earl – the Carved frame black varnished and Gilding the carved molding.   £0.17.0
To 9 Pictures, Portraits of Bishops, be cleaned, repaired and varnished, the draperies to them ¾ done were repainted, and the frames to the 9 pictures black in varnish – the inner parts and moldings gilded and writing their names in yellow. . .   £10.10.0

Again coinciding with a major scheme of repair in the Master’s apartments on the appointment of Master Philip Fisher, Stowers’ bill reveals that the eighteenth-century decorative scheme at this point was changed, with the frames now black and gilt. Stowers lived and worked as a painter-stainer at 22 Charterhouse Square from at least 1784, [34] the year that his son, also Thomas, was born. By the early 19th century the pair were running a painting and decorating business. [35] The company appears to have survived until 1869, when Thomas Stowers junior, and possibly his son William, dissolved the business. [36] Stowers senior had studied at the Royal Academy schools from 1775, and was a former student of landscape painter Richard Wilson. He exhibited at the Royal Academy between 1778 and 1811, and at the British Institution between 1807 and 1813. [37] Though it was his status as an artist that must have qualified him for the job of Charterhouse picture restorer in the eyes of the then Master, his prices also demonstrate that he was far cheaper than ‘professional’ restorer Collivoe, with Stowers charging only 17s for treating the portrait of the Earl of Shaftesbury. Stowers’ bill, like Buckett’s a little under two hundred years earlier, casts valuable light on the multifarious, and little changed, role of the painter/artist/restorer by the early nineteenth century, and also demonstrates the major impact they may have had on the appearance of the collection today. Stowers seems to have had no ethical qualms about re-painting the draperies of a significant number of the portraits, taking Buckett’s example of ‘mendinge with payntinge’ to an extreme and dramatically changing the look of the Charterhouse paintings forever.

By 1838 Thomas Stowers junior was still carrying out routine work for Sutton’s Hospital, and his extensive yearly bills suggest that the Charity kept him extremely busy. It is easy to see why. When Robert Smythe wrote his Historical Account in 1808, he included a description of the ‘wilderness’ that adjoined the kitchen garden, ‘There are many fine trees in the wilderness, but the immense clouds of smoke which almost continually envelop the metropolis have shed a very sombre hue upon their vegetation.’ [38]

From the archives it is clear that the densely polluted environment had no less effect on the interior decoration of the Charity, and created endless work for a painter, with rooms repainted every few years. By 1852, a note concerning the Master’s lodge reads, ‘Almost the whole of the ceilings require cleaning and whitening, some of the rooms not having been done within the last eight or ten years, while others, while done in 1849, have become very much discoloured with smoke.’ [39]

The full-length portraits of governors occupied much wall space in the Governors’ Room in the Master’s House, and the nineteenth-century London smog would have had an injurious effect on the surface of the paintings. As early as 1828, some of the paintings cleaned by Stowers were already described by Thomas Allen in his History and Antiquities of London as ‘generally dirty and neglected’, [40] and by 1838, the picture cleaner, J. Bentley, [41] (referred to in Charterhouse sources as an artist) was paid £31.10s for ‘properly cleaning’ and repairing eight portraits in the ‘Master’s Great Drawing Room’. [42] With the exception of Hysing’s portrait of the Founder, Bentley’s restoration was the last documented treatment that that the seventeenth-century paintings received for nearly three quarters of a century. [43] A comparison of old photographs in the Witt Library of Godfrey Kneller’s portrait of Master Thomas Burnet, taken on the occasions of exhibitions in 1868 and 1934, [44] strengthens the supposition that the combination of London pollution and cycles of nineteenth-century ‘restoration’ with probable vigorous domestic attention were responsible for significant changes in the appearance of the paintings.

When George Vertue in 1730-6 recorded his thoughts about the earliest portrait of the Founder, Thomas Sutton, he wrote, ‘The original picture (at Sutton’s hospital or the Charterhouse) of the founder – Sutton. (Aetat 79, 1611) writ on the picture to me it seems not to be painted directly from the life tho they think it the only true original of him. I can’t guesse who painted by unless – Van Somer it has something of his manner.’ [45]

By March 1895, in an article written for the Carthusian, the author, probably Gerald Davies, then a form master, muses on the portraits of Sutton:

It will perhaps be quite news to many Carthusians that all the portraits of Sutton in which they have put their trust are. . . of no value, being without exception of much later date than Thomas Sutton’s death (the earliest and best is apparently a full hundred years later). . . The best, and probably the earliest is the portrait on canvas, half length, which is inserted into an oval in the mantelpiece of the drawing room in the Master’s Lodge. But the evidence of mere style at once proclaims this a work of much later date than 1611. [46]

However this early portrait of Sutton was certainly painted prior to 1618-19 when it was engraved by Reginold Elstracke and it was included in Henry Holland’s Heröologia Anglica by 1620. [47] As it does not appear in the July 1617 inventory, it may have been commissioned and painted to celebrate the occasion on 13 October 1617 when the first Charterhouse scholar was sent to the University of Cambridge. In the one hundred and sixty five years between the writings of Vertue and the article in the Carthusian, it would seem that the appearance of the work had changed considerably.

The twentieth century
Despite Thomas Burnet’s early eighteenth-century call for an inventory to be made ‘from time to time, of ye goodes and householde stuff of ye Hospital’, [48] Charterhouse inventories are sporadic and largely incomplete. Following that of July 1617, the next surviving record can be dated to about 1836. [49] The pictures are referenced only generally and it is impossible to tell which paintings hang in which room, how many there may be, and whether they are privately or institutionally owned. It is evident that the paintings were seen as of little value to the institution in the nineteenth century, despite increasing public regard, perhaps owing to their condition and appearance.

However, the accession of Master Gerald Stanley Davies, antiquarian and art historian, signals a momentous change in the attitude of the Charity, heralded by the detailed inventory of 1904 in which the paintings in the Master’s House are catalogued and described in full for the first time. [50] The influence of Davies, then still a form master in Godalming, was perhaps already being felt. After accepting the Mastership in London in 1908, Davies soon turned his attention to the needs of the paintings in his care. On 7 December 1911:

The Master submitted an estimate of the cost of necessary work to the pictures in the Master’s Lodge in order to secure their preservation from further injury. He was authorised to have the work done in degrees in accordance with the estimate of Mr J. and H. Reeve at a total cost of one hundred and thirty three pounds inclusive of the cost of glazing which it was suggested was desirable for their proper protection. [51]

While the previous harm suffered by the portraits is obviously referenced, the willingness to shoulder the significant cost of preventive measures such as glazing signifies a remarkable shift in perspective, with the choice of well-regarded professional restorers John and Harry Reeve indicative of this change. [52] In 1927 the Master ‘expressed his willingness to prepare a short description to be affixed to portraits’ [53] and by 27 June ‘it was recommended that the pictures and furniture in the Master’s Lodge be catalogued and valued for insurance purposes’. [54] The following year ‘Messrs Christies’ added these values to the descriptions of the pictures in the 1904 inventory. [55] In 1934 ‘Mr W.J. Morrill’s estimate of £139’ for the ‘Renovation of Pictures in the Master’s Lodge’ was accepted. [56] The ‘completion of the renovation of the pictures’ was reported on 2 July. [57] Once more a professional restorer had been chosen, and the pictures were clearly judged to be a valuable historical asset.

A little under seven years later the paintings faced their greatest peril yet, and if the 1912 glazing was still in place, it cannot have lasted beyond the early morning of Sunday 11 May 1941. The Master’s report to the Governors poignantly describes the traumatic events of that night and ‘inform[s] the assembly that. . . the bulk of the ancient buildings of Charterhouse were burned by enemy action’. The Master's Lodge was entirely destroyed. Of the material artefacts, the Master continued ‘everybody worked to salvage whatever possible, a good deal was saved, but of course a great deal was lost owing to the rapidity with which the fire spread.’ [58] Though the original portrait of Sutton was lost, [59] so putting paid to speculation about its authorship, many paintings were saved, and evacuated, first to Longford Castle in Wiltshire, and then to the school in Godalming. By 1960 an ‘artist…who worked for the Tate Gallery…’ had been employed to restore the paintings on their return to the Charterhouse. [60]

Thanks to the herculean efforts of the Brothers, Masters and their wives on that terrible day in May 1941, the seventeenth-century painting collection at the Charterhouse has remained largely intact. Supported by the extensive archives held by the Charity, it functions as an important resource in the decorative history of the institution, and adds to our understanding of the development of painting restoration as a profession, and changing attitudes to the care of paintings.

Certainly painting restoration was often regarded sceptically, both in and outside the institution, [61] and the Charterhouse paintings have been exposed to cyclical treatments undertaken by a variety of craftsmen and others, who have undoubtedly ‘by degrees [worn] off Part of the Colours’. [62] However, if the appearance of the paintings has changed significantly at the hands of restorers over the centuries, and large swathes of overpaint would suggest that ‘mendinge with payntinge’ [63] was often the preferred course of action, the history of the collection is ultimately a fascinating story of survival, also thanks, in part, to the timely employment of early restoration professionals, called in by some far-sighted, and historically empathetic Masters.


[1] London Metropolitan Archives, LMA/ACC/1876/AR/3/7A. All document references starting ‘LMA’ are housed in the London Metropolitan Archives. [2] For an in-depth history of the charity, see Stephen Porter, The London Charterhouse, 2009. [3] Ibby Lanfear, ‘Blitzed! The history and significance of the seventeenth century portraits in the London Charterhouse’, to be published. [4] There is an exhibition label on the back of the frame of Thomas Burnet dating from 1868. The frames of the three-quarter length portraits of Bishops Laney, Morley and Henchman date from the mid-17th century and may be original to the portraits. I am grateful to Jacob Simon for discussing the Charterhouse frames with me. [5] For an in-depth discussion of the architectural history of the buildings, see Philip Temple, Survey of London: Monograph 18: The Charterhouse, Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, 2010. [6] LMA/ACC/1876/AR/3/7A. [7] William Salmon, Polygraphice: or, the arts of drawing, engraving, etching, limning, painting, varnishing, japaning, gilding, etc., vol.1, p.173. [8] Anon., The Excellency of the Pen and Pencil, 1688. [9] Walpole, as did Vertue, made frequent reference to the condition of paintings that he saw on his visits to country houses. For a full discussion, see M. Kirby Talley Jnr, ‘Miscreants and Hotentots: Restorers and Restoration Attitudes and Practices in Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century England’, in Christine Sitwell and Sarah Staniforth (eds), Studies in the History of Painting Restoration, 1998. [10] Discussed in Carol Gibson Wood, ‘Picture Consumption in London at the end of the Seventeenth Century’, Art Bulletin, vol.84, 2002, pp.491-500. [11] LMA/ACC/1876/AR/03/047. [12] LMA/ACC/1876/G/02/029. [13] Walpole Society, vol.24, 1935-6. Vertue Notebooks vol.IV, p.86. [14] Middlesex Journal, 12 September 1769, referenced in British picture restorers on this website, accessed 22 February 2018. [15] LMA/ACC/1876/AR/03/098. [16] LMA/ACC/1876/AR/03/100. [17] LMA/ACC/1876/AR/07/12-13. [18] Robert Smythe, An Historical Account of the Charterhouse; compiled from the works of Hearne and Bearcroft, Cottonian and private mss: and from other authentic sources, 1808. [19] LMA/ACC/1876/AR/07/15, for carver James Dryhurst’s bill for the creation of the elaborate overmantel. See also Philip Temple, cited above in note 5, chapter 6. [20] LMA/ACC/1876/AR/07/015. Wharton Ray or Rae was a restorer active in London from at least 1750-58. His association with the Charterhouse is interesting, and may strengthen the possibility that he was a cousin, or kinsman, of Isaac Collivoe, although more research is needed. Rae’s daughter Jane was baptised at St Paul’s, Covent Garden in 1753, the burial place of Isaac Collivoe Snr, who had appointed a Thomas Rae as his executor after his death, while Isaac Collivoe Jnr left property in his will to his cousin John Rae. Certainly the Charterhouse’s relationship with individual craftsmen can be characterised by their length, often spanning the course of a person’s working life, and it would seem likely that Wharton Rae was associated with Collivoe, who was called back for further painting restoration work in 1762. Perhaps in 1754 he had been too busy mending paintings for Charterhouse Governor John Russell, 3rd Duke of Bedford, and had instead called on his kinsman to carry out the work for Sutton’s Hospital. [21] LMA/ACC/1876/AR/07/16. [22] LMA/ACC/1876/AR/07/18. [23] For Isaac Collivoe jnr, see British picture restorers on this website, accessed 22 February 2018. [24] LMA/ACC/1876/AR/07/18. [25] LMA/ACC/1876/AR/07/18. Information from Jacob Simon regarding the practice of reducing portraits. [26] Assembly Meetings 1899-1949, report of the Estates Committee, 7 April 1917. [27] LMA/ACC/1876/AR/07/18. [28] LMA/ACC/1876/AR/07/18. As Wharton Ray had cleaned and lined the painting only 8 years earlier, the success of his treatment is perhaps questionable. [29] For select examples, see Thomas Pennant, Some Account of London, 1790/1; James Peter Malcolm, Londinium Redivivum, Or an Ancient History and Modern Description of London, vol.1, 1803; Robert Smythe, cited above in note 18; Thomas Allen, The History and Antiquities of London, Westminster, Southwark and Parts Adjacent, 1828; Charles Knight, London: Volumes I-II, 1841; James Anthony Froude and John Tulloch, Fraser’s Magazine, vol.35, 1847; A Carthusian ‘Chronicles of Charterhouse’, 1847; William Haig-Miller, James Macaulay, William Stevens, The Leisure Hour, vol.22, 1873; Walter Thornbury, ‘The Charterhouse’, in Old and New London, vol.2, 1878; William Haig-Brown, Charterhouse Past and Present, 1879. [30] James Peter Malcolm, Londinium Redivivum, Or an Ancient History and Modern Description of London, vol.I, 1803. [31] LMA/ACC/1876/AR/07/16. This was presumably the same John Anderson who was praised by the 4th Earl of Chesterfield as ‘a very safe man’ to clean pictures, and who worked for Charterhouse governor the Duke of Bedford. See British picture restorers on this website, accessed 22 February 2018. [32] Robert Smythe, cited in note 18. [33] LMA/ACC/1876/AR/07/37. [34] Charterhouse register 1769-1872. [35] Survey of London, vol.46. South and East Clerkenwell, 2008, accessed via British History online 9 March 2017. [36] London Gazette, 29 July 1870. [37] Information from the Royal Academy website, accessed 20 February 2018. [38] Robert Smythe, cited in note 18. [39] LMA ACC/1876/AG/04. [40] Thomas Allen, The History and Antiquities of London, Westminster, Southwark and Parts adjacent, 1828. [41] For Bentley, later picture cleaner to the National Gallery, see British picture restorers on this website, accessed 22 February 2018. [42] Assembly Orders, 24 March 1838. [43] Hysing’s portrait of the Founder in the Great Hall was ‘cleaned’ in 1876 and ‘restored and repaired’ in 1890. No restorer’s name is given. [44] National Exhibition of Works of Art, Leeds, 1868; Exhibition of British Art, Royal Academy of Art, 1934. [45] Walpole Society, vol.24, 1935-6. Vertue Notebooks vol.IV, p.86. [46] Gerald Davies (probably), ‘The Only Authentic Portrait of Thomas Sutton, Carthusian Magazine, March 1895. [47] Hugh Trevor Roper, ‘The Portraits of Thomas Sutton’, unpublished article. [48] LMA/ACC/1876/G/02/029. [49] LMA/ACC/1876/AM5/35. [50] LMA/ACC/1876/AM/05/036. [51] Assembly Orders, 7 December 1911. [52] For Reeves, see British picture restorers on this website, accessed 22 February 2018. [53] Assembly Orders, 7 February 1927. [54] Assembly Orders, 27 June 1927. [55] Assembly Orders, 27 June 1927. [56] Assembly Orders, 5 February 1934. For Morrill, see British picture restorers on this website, accessed 22 February 2018. [57] Assembly Orders, 2 July 1934. [58] Assembly Orders, 19 May 1941. [59] Sefferin Alken’s frame by this time housed the portrait of Daniel Wray and was fortunately saved from the fire. It currently hangs in the school in Godalming. [60] Assembly Orders, 25 July 1960. [61] For an interesting discussion, see M. Kirby Talley Jnr, cited above in note 9. [62] William Salmon, cited above in note 7. [63] LMA/ACC/1876/AR/3/7A.

Chauncey, active 1718-1724.Picture restorer.

Mr Chauncey restored 71 paintings for Hatfield House, 1718-24, including 25 portraits, at a cost of almost £167 (Auerbach 1971 p.263).

For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.

Added March 2019, updated August 2019
Sir Arthur Herbert Church (1834-1915). Chemist, Professor of chemistry to the Royal Academy, 1879-1911.

Arthur Church’s interests were wide ranging. He was professor of chemistry at the Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester, 1863-79. He was elected a fellow of the Chemical Society in 1856, and of the Royal Society in 1888, and was knighted in 1909. Church was closely engaged in testing artists’ materials and in the restoration of wall paintings. He was also an artist and an authority on antique English pottery and porcelain.

Church exhibited landscapes at the Royal Academy and the British Institution, 1854-70, and held an account with the artists’ suppliers, C. Roberson & Co, 1900-1 (Woodcock 1997). He was an unsuccessful applicant for the Royal Academy’s new professorship of chemistry when it was advertised in 1871 but he became the second professor, 1879-1911, succeeding Frederick Barff (qv). He delivered an annual course of six lectures on the chemistry of painting materials and, on occasion, on the conservation and treatment of pictures and drawings (Royal Academy annual reports, 1882-84). He intervened effectively in the public debate over the fading of watercolour drawings in 1886 (see his letters to The Times, 26 March, 14 April 1886). His publications include articles on technical innovations in wall paintings (‘Chemical aids to art’, Intellectual Observer, no.66, 1867, pp.409-11) and preventative care (‘The Conservation of Pictures’, The Portfolio, 1882, pp.106-8), as well the books, The Chemistry of Paints and Painting (1890) and Colour: An elementary manual for students (1907).

The focus of this account is on Church’s work in the chemistry of paintings and in the conservation of works of art. Perhaps Church’s most notable achievement in this sphere was his work in preserving wall paintings in the the Palace of Westminster, 1894-1906, the first major restoration programme in Britain to be directed by a scientist. In 1894, he was entrusted with the conservation of these paintings, which had suffered in London’s polluted atmosphere. Church identified airborne sulphuric acid as the main destructive agent, and succeeded in halting further decay. He employed two experts, Messrs Redhead and Drinkwater, seconded from the firm of Shrigley & Hunt of Lancaster and London. Church's 12 years’ activities in this area were recorded in detail in a series of Parliamentary Papers. The preceding account is indebted to Frederick Kurzer’s detailed history (‘Arthur Herbert Church FRS and the Palace of Westminster frescoes’, Notes and Records of the Royal Society, vol.60, 2006, pp.139-59).

Church had previously been responsible for cleaning G.F. Watts’ fresco in the hall of Lincoln's Inn in 1890 (A.H. Church, 'Cleaning a Fresco', The Portfolio, 1891, pp. 48-51). He wrote to Watts in June 1890 with his proposals for treatment (National Portrait Gallery archive, GFW/1/8/57). The actual work was carried out under his instructions by Mr Redhead (see above). Cleaning consisted of removal of a thick layer of dust using brushes or air from bellows and then the employment of strong commercial methylated spirits as a cleansing agent using pads of carded cotton. Fixing and preservation involved the application of a solution of hard paraffin wax, Sierra Leone copal, and a sicative linseed oil, applied warm by brush or fine spray. Church later provided advice on another work by Watts, Life’s Illusions, a large oil painting belonging to the Tate Gallery (J. Townsend and J. Ridge, ‘G.F. Watts in context: his choice of materials and techniques’, in Painting Techniques: History, Materials and Studio Practice, ed. A. Roy and P. Smith, 1998, p.227).

Church himself restored some Lombard early 16th-century tempera panel portraits in about 1883, then attributed to Bramantino, cleaning them by mechanical means and using solvents such as chloroform and acetone and then repeatedly treating them with a weak copal varnish to which a little wax had been added, followed by retouching (A.H. Church, The Portfolio, 1884, pp.35-7). Some panels from this large set are in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and others in the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Several other wall or ceiling paintings were restored by Church, under his supervision or on his advice. In 1899 he examined Robert Streeter’s Sheldonian Theatre ceiling in Oxford, painted in oil on canvas, and made recommendations, but how closely these were carried out by John C. Nairn & Son (qv) remains to be ascertained. He took on Edward Poynter’s true fresco of 1872-3 in a chancel recess of St Stephen’s church, Dulwich, in 1904, which was cleaned, retouched in egg tempera, the ground strengthened by ceresin wax where necessary and then a protective but very slight coating of the same material applied to the whole picture. At the Central Criminal Courts in 1907 Church examined grey patches in one of Sir William Richmond’s wall painting, where he identified the cause of the trouble and treated it with a spray of hydrogen peroxide. At the Queen’s House, Greenwich, in 1907 and 1909 Church tackled the Queen’s Bedroom 17th-century ceiling fresco on plaster which was treated by spraying the whole surface repeatedly with Gambier Parry’s spirit-fresco medium, suitably diluted, followed by retouching using spirit-fresco pigments. For these works, see A.H. Church, Records and Recollections, vol.2, 1909, pp.20-3, 43.

On occasion Church was called on to assist public museums and galleries. He provided advice to the National Gallery in 1889. It was supposed that there was a ‘thread like fungus’ growing on the surface of the Francia’s large panel painting, St Anne altarpiece. Church identified what the Gallery’s staff and restorers had failed to notice, namely that the threads were ‘merely fragments of cotton wool used for cleaning the picture and overlaid with fine dust’ (National Gallery Archive, NG1/6, 4 June 1889). Church provided preventative conservation advice to the old Ashmolean Museum in 1896 on the treatment of the Tradescant pictures, focusing on the need to control light, temperature and humidity (Ashmolean Museum, AMS 22). He was called on by the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1912 and 1913 to advise on blackened lead white in a miniature, the cracking of panel paintings due to low humidity and on a white exudation on one of the Ionides paintings (V&A Archive, ED 84/136, items 1103M, 613M, 2877M). By then Church had given up the professorship at the Academy. His approach over many years was to employ scientific techniques to inform specific technical problems.

Church took a keen interest in a wide range of issues affecting artists’ materials and conservation. He used his book, The Chemistry of Paints and Painting (1890), to survey the field at the time, describing individual works at the National Gallery and the South Kensington Museum (the future V&A). He described experiments made by F.W. Andrew (qv) at the Museum into the light fastness of colours (p.284). But his conservation advice was not always accurate, for example when he recommended India Rubber for mounting drawings (p.271). He advocated the use of viscose for priming canvas in 1901, an idea that was taken up after his death by Winsor & Newton but which proved unsuccessful commercially (Lynne Brown, ‘”Royac” Viscose primed canvas: An important development?’, Studies in Conservation, vol.36, 1991, pp.172-4).

Church was followed by A.P. Laurie (qv) as Professor of chemistry to the Royal Academy.

Sources: A.H. Church, Records and Recollections, vol.1, 1899, vol.2, 1909; Obituary, The Times 2 June 1915; A.P. Laurie, ‘Arthur Herbert Church obituary’, Journal of the Chemical Society, vol.109, 1916, pp.374-9.

Added September 2017
George Clark, 76 Wandsworth Bridge Road, Fulham 1901, 43 Perrymead St, Fulham 1903-1907, 30 Duke St, St James’s, London SW1 1908-1920, 32 Duke St 1921-1923, 42 Jermyn St  1924-1926, 6 Duke St 1927-1931. George Clark & Sons, 96 Jermyn St 1932-1943. Picture restorer.

George Henry John Clark (?1872-1943) was born in Chelsea and married Leah Barnes there in 1897. He can be found in census records, in 1901 at 76 Wandsworth Bridge Road when he was described as a picture restorer working on his own account at home, and in 1911 at 63 Finlay St, Fulham, when he was described as a picture restorer and employer; by then with five children. He died at Hinchley Wood, Surrey, in 1943, leaving effects of £1000, with his widow named as Leah Clark.

Clark cleaned Jacob Huysmans’s portrait, John Maitland, Duke of Lauderdale, for the National Portrait Gallery on acquisition in 1925 but does not seem to have undertaken other work for the Gallery.

*Robert Clark, 12 Parker St, St Margaret’s, Westminster, London 1881, 267 Earlsfield Road, Wandsworth 1891, 66 Franche Court Road, Lower Tooting, SW by 1895-1901 or later, Tregenna, Burntwood Lane, SW 1908, 78 Mellison Road, Tooting 1911. Bookseller, later a print inlayer and print seller.

Robert Clark (1851?-1928?) worked as a bookseller before establishing himself as a print inlayer and paper splitter. He would appear to be the Robert Clark born in Shoreditch in 1851. In census records he can be found variously described as born in Shoreditch or Hoxton except in 1891, when listed as born Halifax, Yorkshire, presumably mistakenly.

In the 1871 census, he can be found at 27 Parker St, St Margaret’s, Westminster, age 19, already a bookseller, living in the household of his parents, Robert, a printer’s pressman, and Caroline. In 1874 he married Caroline Abram in the Lambeth district and the following year set up in business independently, according to his headed paper (see below). He does not appear in London directories.

Clark is listed in subsequent censuses. In 1881 at 12 Parker St as a bookseller, age 29, with his wife Caroline and two daughters and his mother-in-law and other members of her family. In 1891 at 267 Earlsfield Road, Wandsworth as a bookseller and print mounter, with his wife and seven children. In 1901 at 66 Franche Court Road, Wandsworth, as a print inlayer and paper splitter, age 49, working on his own account, with his wife and three children. In 1911 at 78 Mellison Road, Tooting, as a print inlayer for grangerising books, age 59, a widower, working on his own account, with two children living at home. He is perhaps the Robert Clark who died in Wandsworth age 78 in 1928.

On his headed paper in 1895, he described himself as a print inlayer and bookseller, established 1875 (British Museum, Dept of Prints and Drawings, departmental letters received books, 1893-5, item 313, 6 April 1895). His headed paper describes the range of his activities: ‘Portraits, Engravings, Autographs, &c. for extra illustration of Books inlaid to an exact size from 16s per 100…. Collections of Pictorial Scraps, Engravings by Cruikshank, Leech, Furniss or others, illustrations to Dickens, Thackeray, &c., split and suitably mounted ready for Portfolio, Scrap Book or Binding from 21s. per 100…. By the above process all unsightly printed material is removed from the backs, the prints/ when mounted laying perfectly flat.’

In 1908 Clark advertised a collection of etchings and engraving for sale, ranging in date from 1690 to 1850, neatly inlaid where necessary, from Tregenna, Burntwood Lane (The Academy, vol.73, 1908, p.689, accessed through Google book search).

*William Clarke (1943-2010). Paper conservator, British Museum, c.1970-76, Area Museums Service at Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, 1977-78, Courtauld Institute of Art, 1978-2008, latterly Head of Conservation.

Outside the time frame of this online resource, but see obituary, The Times, 26 June 2010.

*William Clay (c.1833-1911 or later) and other members of the Clay family.

William Clay came from Lincoln. He was in London by 1857, working as a book binder, when his eldest son, Frederick, was christened. In census records, he was described as a book binder in 1861, a mounter of drawings in 1871, an attendant at the British Museum in 1881, an art assistant in 1891, an ‘artist (fine art painting) British Museum’ in 1901 and a fine art mounter at the British Museum, by now age 78, in 1911.

In 1881 Clay was living at 76 Bramah Road, Lambeth, with his wife Mary, their sons, Frederick F. Clay, also an attendant at the British Museum, age 24, born St Pancras, and Charles H. Clay, a clerk, age 14, born Kentish Town, and their two young daughters, Edith and Florence. At the time of the census, both William Clay (c.1833-1911 or later) and his son Frederick Thomas Clay (1856-1915) had been working for the Department for at least three years but his younger son, Charles Herbert Clay (b.1866) did not join them until November 1881 on the evidence of his invoices. It was the father, William, who continued at the Museum the longest, until 1911, while Frederick ceased to be employed in 1896, going on to become a licensed victualler, and Charles left in 1903.

William Clifford 1848, oil and colourman. C.E. Clifford 1849-1886, artists’ colourman 1849-1876, photographic materials manufacturer 1857-1865, picture restorer from 1877; C.E. Clifford & Co from1887, printsellers; C.E. Clifford & Co Ltd 1909-1924, fine art publishers, printsellers, framemakers, picture restorers. At 30 Piccadilly, London WC 1848-1887, 12 Piccadilly 1888-1891, 200 Piccadilly 1892-1894, 21 Haymarket 1895-1911, 12 Bury St, St James's 1911-1914, 3 Regent Place, Regent St 1914-1924.

Charles Edward Clifford succeeded E. Façon Watson (qv) as a picture restorer in 1877 (notice announcing succession, dated 19 February 1877, copy in National Portrait Gallery records, RP 740). See British artists' suppliers on this website.

Christopher Cock (trading as Cock & Langford by 1747),Next the Vine Tavern, Broad St, St James’s, London 1722, upper end of Broad St, next Golden Square 1722-1724, Broad St 1725-1726, The Two Blue Spires, Broad St 1725, Poland St, corner of Broad St 1726-1731, Great Piazza, Covent Garden 1731-1748. Auctioneer and picture restorer.

Christopher Cock (d.1748) was the leading picture auctioneer of his generation, conducting many sales over a 30 year period from about 1717. It has been suggested that he may have been related to the painter, auctioneer and printseller, John Cock of Dean St, who died in 1714 (Bottoms 2002 p.431), but he is not mentioned in John Cock’s will. The name, ‘Cock’, is occasionally found as a buyer at picture sales, in 1711, 1722 and 1740 (‘Sale catalogues of the principal collections of pictures..., 1711-1759’, 2 ms vols, V&A National Art Library, 86.OO.18-19).

Christopher Cock was trading by 1717 when George Vertue noted the involvement of 'young Cock’ in the sale of Sir George Hungerford's pictures. In the Burney newspapers in the British Library his earliest advertisement as an auctioneer dates to 1722 (Evening Post 30 January 1722). Initially, he traded from the Broad St area in Soho, taking out insurance on his goods and merchandise in Broad St, and in the warehouse behind, to the value of £500 in 1725 (London Metropolitan Archives, Sun Fire Office policy registers, 20/36382), and opening a new auction room in Poland St in 1726 (see Whitley 1928, vol.1, frontispiece). In March 1732 he took a lease on a house in the Great Piazza in Covent Garden, erecting an auction room at the rear of the premises, which remained in use for more than a century. By 1747 he was trading in partnership with Abraham Langford, as Cock & Langford.

Christopher Cock died in 1748 and was buried at St Paul Covent Garden (William H. Hunt (ed.), The Registers of St Paul’s, Covent Garden, vol.4, 1908, p.438). In his will, made 1 October 1748 and proved 1 February 1749, Christopher Cock, auctioneer of St Paul Covent Garden, referred to Abraham Langford as his clerk or agent in his way of business, calling on him to take an inventory of his estate. To his wife, Ann, he left various personal items. Interestingly, his will reveals that part of his premises was leased to Allan Ramsay, the portrait painter, at a yearly rental of £63. He held three shares in a newspaper, the Daily Advertiser, half-profits in which he left on a conditional basis to Mrs Elizabeth James of the parish of St Martin-in-the-Fields. His collection, including pictures, was sold by Langford in May 1749 on his former premises in the Great Piazza (Daily Advertiser 17 May 1749).

According to a list of unfinished pictures compiled by William Hogarth on 1 January 1731, Cock commissioned a conversation piece of six figures from him, for which he had made half payment in November 1728 (British Library, Add.MS 27995). Cock and his wife are sometimes said to appear in one of these conversation pieces. The fullest account of this commission comes in the catalogue entry for Hogarth’s Conversation Piece with Sir Andrew Fountaine in the Philadelphia Museum (Richard Dorment, British Paintings in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1986, pp.163-71). A version of this painting belonged to Cock’s successor, Abraham Langford.

Restoration work: Cock was sometimes involved in the restoration of works of art. In 1719, John Hervey, 1st Earl of Bristol paid him 10 guineas in part of his bill for £25 for cleaning and mending the whole of Hervey’s collection of pictures (Hervey 1894 p.162).

In 1723, Cock was paid the substantial sum of £88 by the 2nd Duke of Montagu for ‘Repairing 2 Large Cartoons of Raphaels’, now attributed to G.F. Penni, The Vision of Ezekiel and The Meeting of the Two Holy Families (Boughton House, Northamptonshire). This work involved mounting and stretching the cartoons, enlarging The Vision of Ezekiel at the sides, and patching the Two Holy Families (Michael Jaffe, ‘The Paintings and Drawings’, in Tessa Murdoch (ed.), Boughton House: The English Versailles, 1992, p.83 and n.5, pl. 40, 44, information from Tessa Murdoch).

In 1733, Christopher Cock was paid £60 by the Duke of Chandos in an out-of-court settlement following a lengthy dispute concerning his work on Chandos’s set of Raphael cartoons of the Creation, apparently undertaken in 1724 or 1725. Chandos is reported to have agreed that Cock should clean four of the cartoons at £40 each and work on the fifth without charge. In 1731 Cock demanded £101 'for new pasting' three of the cartoons but he was accused of daubing them with new colouring and cutting out the head of Eve from the Creation of Woman. Cock submitted that the cartoons had been so torn and battered that some repainting was inevitable. It emerged in evidence that Philiot, a picture restorer, possibly to be identified with Feilot, had been given the Eve cartoon by Cock to restore. Fuller details of this complex dispute are given in C.H. Collins Baker and Muriel I. Baker, The Life and Circumstances of James Brydges First Duke of Chandos, 1949, pp.83-92.

Sources: Survey of London, vol.36, Covent Garden, 1970, pp.83, 87, available online at (referring to Cock’s lease, 11 March 1731/2, of nos 9-10 Great Piazza, Covent Garden); Brian Learmount, A History of the Auction, 1985, pp.22-8 (focusing on Cock’s property sales). For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.

Denison Cockburn (1905-94). Picture restorer.

See under George A. Stubbs in this resource.

Ralph Cockburn, 46 Portland St, London 1802, 56 Devonshire St 1807, Devonshire St 1810, 66 Warren St 1814, 11 New Cavendish St 1820, Dulwich College 1814-1820. Miniaturist and portrait painter, Keeper of Dulwich Gallery and picture restorer.

Ralph Cockburn (1779-1820) was christened at St Mary Marylebone. He entered the Royal Academy Schools at the age of 18 on 26 August 1797 (Hutchison 1962 p.157). He exhibited occasionally at the Royal Academy from 1802. He married Caroline Kirkley, daughter of Ralph Kirkley, Joshua Reynolds’s old servant, and by her had a daughter, also Caroline in 1804, who was not christened until after his death. He became the first Keeper of Dulwich Gallery (1814-20). In 1820 Cockburn was described as a painter of domestic life and miniatures, with his address given as 11 New Cavendish St. In his will, made 10 March 1818 and proved 14 February 1821, Ralph Cockburn, Keeper of the Pictures at Dulwich College, made his daughter his main beneficiary.

Cockburn was in touch with Joseph Farington in January 1813 about obtaining a letter of recommendation to promote his position as a potential keeper of the Desenfans collection which had been bequeathed to Dulwich College. Together, they visited Mrs Desenfans in Charlotte St in June that year to view the collection. In July 1814, Cockburn told Farington that he had been appointed ‘to have care of the pictures’ and was to have rooms at the College; as Farington subsequently learnt, this was at a salary of 200 guineas a year. In September 1814, Joseph Farington saw several portraits belonging to Dulwich College that Cockburn had cleaned.

Sources: Farington, vol.12 p.4279, vol.13 pp.4546, 4582, vol.14 p.5037; information kindly supplied by John Ingamells, 2005, relating to Dulwich College and its pictures.

For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.

The Collector's Picture Restoring Co. Ltd, see British artists' suppliers on this website.

Francis Collins, 11 New Cavendish St, Portland Place, London 1819-1828, 52 Great Marlborough St 1828-1832. Picture cleaner and dealer, print dealer and publisher, picture framemaker.

Francis James Collins (1790-1833), known as Frank Collins, was born in Great Titchfield St, the second son of William Collins (d.1812), a writer and picture dealer of Irish origin. He was the younger brother of William Collins RA and the uncle of Wilkie Collins. In 1820 he was described as a ‘Dealer in Ancient Prints’ in the Post Office London directory, while in Robson’s directory he was listed as a picture and print dealer in 1819 and as a picture cleaner in 1820 and 1826.

In 1821 John Constable wrote that Collins was ‘much engaged in cleaning pictures – which he does most skilfully’ (Beckett 1968 p.81). Constable recommended him for the post of Secretary to the British Institution, 1818, and as a picture cleaner, 1821, and for cleaning pictures at Ham House, 1824, where he cleaned pictures for Lady Dysart (see Beckett 1964 p.331, Beckett 1966 p.291). He was recommended for the post of keeper of the Dulwich Gallery, c.1821, by Sir Francis Chantrey who referred to his work two years previously in cleaning a valuable collection of pictures, describing him as 'unpresuming, good-tempered, and sensible'.

For further details of Collins’s life and his activities as a picture framer, see British picture framemakers on this website.

Sources: W. Wilkie Collins, Memoirs of the Life of William Collins, 1848, vol.1, pp.4, 7, 181-2, 329, vol.2, pp.29-37; Beckett 1964 pp.331, 393, Beckett 1966 pp.68, 291-2, Beckett 1968 p.81; Farington, vol.15 p.5135. For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.

*Simon Collins, 4 St James St, London 1829-1833, 45 Princes St, Soho Square 1833, Princes St 1835-1837, 225 Piccadilly by 1839, Davey Place, Norwich 1839, 143 Friar St, Reading 1839-1840, 178 Strand, London 1840-1841, 53 Old Compton St 1841-1843, 4 Upper Ebury St, Pimlico 1842-1844, 118 Piccadilly 1844-1846, 22 Orchard St 1846-1848, 6 Somerset St, Portman Square 1849-1874, 232 Oxford St 1852, 158 New Bond St 1863-1865, 61 New Bond St 1865-1870, 45 New Bond St 1871-1877. Artist 1829-33, tobacconist 1839, picture restorer and cleaner from 1839 onwards, also picture importer in 1840s and later picture dealer, occasionally portrait painter.

Simon or Simeon Collins (c.1809-1893) was one of many children of the Jewish picture dealer, Hyman Collins (1780-1835). Simon had ambitions as an artist, exhibiting in London in his early twenties, before taking up as a picture restorer. He can be identified with the S. Collins, miniature painter, who exhibited portraits at the Royal Academy in 1831 and, as S. Collins jun, various items at the Society of British Artists in 1829 and 1831 from 4 St James’s St, his father’s address, and in 1833 from 45 Princes St. His father died in 1835, making bequests to Hyman and to other members of his family.

Simon Collins can be identified with the ‘S. Collins’ who worked in Oxford in 1838. As Simeon Collins, he appeared before the Court for Relief of Insolvent Debtors at Norwich in 1839, when described as a portrait painter, picture dealer, picture cleaner and restorer, and carver and gilder, formerly of 45 Princes St, Soho Square, London, then of 225 Piccadilly when also a tobacconist, and late of Davey Place, Norwich, portrait painter (London Gazette 12 February 1839).

Over the next 20 years Collins spent much of his time on the road, while retaining a London address, advertising his services in local newspapers as a picture restorer, offering pictures for sale and occasionally advertising as a drawing master and miniature portrait painter. He moved from city to city, mainly in southern England: Oxford (1838, July 1840, October 1841), Reading (June-December 1839, August-September 1840, January-February 1841), Wallingford (January 1840), Worcester (May-June 1842), Bristol (1842 or before), Southampton (January-February 1843), Cambridge (July 1843), Bury St Edmunds (July-August, November 1843), Sudbury (November 1843), Ipswich (December 1843), Norwich (February 1844), Grantham (December 1844), Bath (March 1846), Taunton (April-May 1846), Exeter (August-September 1846), Hull (August 1849), Canterbury (August 1852), Northampton (June 1854), Huddersfield (August 1854), Salisbury (January 1856), Cheltenham (September 1859) and Stratford-upon-Avon (1861).

Simeon Collins took out insurance as a picture dealer with the Sun Fire Office, from 178 Strand in 1840, 4 Ebury Place on moving from Compton St in 1842, 22 Orchard St in 1846, and 6 Somerset St in 1849 and 1852 (George Rigal, Jewish Surnames in London-based Insurance Policies, 2013).

In census records, he can be found as Simon or Simeon Collins with his wife Rosetta from 1841 to 1881 and as a widower in 1891, born St Martin-in-the-Fields between 1808 and 1811 (according to the particular census). He was recorded in 1841 as an artist at 53 Old Compton St, in 1851 at 6 Somerset St as a picture restorer, in 1861 lodging in Stratford-upon-Avon as an artist, in 1871 at 6 Somerset St as an artist, in 1881 at 41 Clifton Road, Maida Vale, as a retired fine art dealer (he was listed in London directories as Simeon Collins at 41 Clifton Gardens until 1888); and in the 1891 census in the household of his nephew Francis Collins in Paddington as a retired picture dealer, by now blind.

Collins’s wife died in 1884. His own death at the age of 84 at 14 Greville Place, NW, was announced in January 1893, when he was described as formerly of 6 Somerset St (The Times 26 January 1893). He left effects worth £4345, with probate granted to Elizabeth Nathan, wife of Joseph Nathan.

Restoration work: From Collins’ advertisements promoting his picture restoration work, we can gain some idea of his clientele and work, as he chose to identify it: pictures in the Town Hall and the altarpiece in St Mary’s Church in Reading, as well as work on the principal private collections in the neighbourhood (Berkshire Chronicle 11 January 1840), pictures in the Town Hall at Wallingford (Oxford Journal 11 July 1840), pictures in the Bodleian Gallery, Magdalen, Worcester and St John’s colleges in Oxford (Oxford Journal 30 October 1841; also at New College, see Hampshire Advertiser 28 January 1843), pictures belonging to Col. Tynte and Alex. Adair, among others in Somerset (Exeter and Plymouth Gazette 15 August 1846), pictures belonging to W. & M. Jalland, J. Beadle and J. Henwood in Yorkshire (Hull Packet 17 August 1849), pictures belonging to the Duke of Richmond, Earl Ducie, Earl Egremont, Earl of Donomore, Viscount Maynard, Lord Ormond, Sir Henry Bumberry [Bunbury?] and Sir Charles Tempest (Cheltenham Looker-On 10 September 1859).

At Oxford at the Bodleian Library, on the recommendation of Sir David Wilkie, he was responsible in 1838 for the complete removal of later repainting from a panel portrait, the so-called Mary Queen of Scots, to reveal a 16th-century portrait of an unknown lady (W.D. Macray, Annals of the Bodleian Library Oxford, 2nd ed., 1890, p.337). Collins was also paid £20 for unspecified picture cleaning at the Bodleian in 1841/2 (Bodleian Library, Library Records, b.3).

At Stratford-upon-Avon, according to reports, a portrait of Shakespeare belonging to the family of the Town Clerk, William Oakes Hunt, was cleaned by Collins, again involving complete removal of later repainting. Hunt had previously employed Collins to remove white paint from the figure of Shakespeare in Holy Trinity church at Stratford (see The Players, 13 April 1861, p.322, giving The Stratford-upon-Avon Herald as a source, accessed through Google Book Search; J. Hain Friswell, Life Portraits of William Shakespeare, 1864, pp. 7, 53-7; see also Samuel Schoenbaum, Shakespeare's Lives, 1970, p.467).

Isaac Collivoe senr, Bow St, Covent Garden, London by 1701, ?Charles St, Covent Garden to 1726, painter and picture restorer. Isaac Collivoe junr, Maiden Lane, Covent Garden, London by 1739-1769, painter, picture dealer, picture cleaner and restorer.

Two generations of the Collivoe family were active in the London art world. The father, Isaac Collivoe (d.1726), was also recorded as Collivous, Collevous, Collevou, Collivau, Collivaux and even Calliveaux, while the son, Isaac Collivoe junr (c.1702-1769), was sometimes described as Collevaux or Colliveau. He was one of the leading restorers of his generation, with a distinguished clientele.

Isaac Collivoe senr: Not much is known of the father. Isaac and Jane Collivoe, their name spelt as Collivau or Collivaux, had four children christened at St Paul Covent Garden, 1698-1704, including a son in 1702, Isaac (see below). While he may possibly have been the son of David Collivaux, who was in the Bow St area in 1671 and 1691 (information from rate books, supplied by Prof. Boulton), there were other individuals of similar name who were christened at St Paul Covent Garden from 1669 or who were buried there from 1696, and perhaps as early as 1684, with the name at first spelt Collauaux or Collivaux and subsequently in various forms including Colliveaulx, Colliveaux and Collivau (William H. Hunt (ed.), The Registers of St Paul’s, Covent Garden, vol.1, 1906, vol.4, 1908).

Collivoe senr, recorded as ‘Isaac Collivaule’, witnessed the will of Edward Davis, engraver and auctioneer of St Albans St, St James's, in March 1697, along with ‘Willm Comins’, presumably William Comyns (qv) and ‘Ri: Robins’, as yet unidentified, with Henry Cooke (qv) as one of the executors (information from Richard Stephens, February 2010). Collivoe senr was a neighbour of Marcellus Laroon the elder in Bow St, Covent Garden, witnessing his will in 1701, and helping compile his probate inventory in March 1702 (information from Prof. Jeremy Boulton).

One of Isaac Collivoe’s clients was the architect, Sir John Vanbrugh, who spent £26.15s from 1715 to 1722 on insuring, mending and framing pictures (Kerry Downes, Vanbrugh, 1977, pp.182, 191, 215). Collivoe appears to have been known to the engraver, George Vertue, who credits ‘Collevous’ with information concerning Lord Wharton's Van Dycks at Winchendon in about 1714 (Vertue vol.1, p.29). Collivoe was a customer of the colourman, John Calfe (see British artists' suppliers on this website), if he can be identified with the individual listed as ‘Calliveaux’, who features in Calfe’s post-mortem inventory in 1720 as owing him £30.6s. In 1723 ‘Mr Collivoe’, whether the father or the son, was paid £6.6s by Sir John Dutton of Sherborne ‘for his journey from London to view my pictures in order to mend them’ (Sybil Longhurst and Walter Tufnell, Sherborne: a Cotswold Village, 1992, p.43).

In his will, made 28 March and proved 20 April 1726, Isaac Collivoe, painter of St Paul Covent Garden, left half the residue of his estate to his wife Jane, and a quarter each to his son Isaac and daughter Jane, subject to their reaching the age of 31, appointing as executors his wife and his kinsman Thomas Rea. One or more sales of his collection of pictures were held, describing him as ‘Mr Isaac Collivous, painter’ (also advertised as Collevou), and giving his wife’s address as Charles St, Covent Garden (Daily Journal 19 January 1727, 25 March 1727). George Vertue records his picture sale in Covent Garden on 1 February 1727, describing in particular a portrait then thought to portray the Duke and Duchess of Suffolk (Vertue vol.2, p.23), but now known to represent Lady Dacre and her son, by Hans Eworth (National Portrait Gallery).

Isaac Collivoe senr’s daughter, Jane Collivoe, died in 1766, leaving a will, as spinster of St Mary Islington, appointing her brother Isaac as her executor, and making bequests to him, to her cousin John Rea and to Jacob Collivoe.

Isaac Collivoe junr: Collivoe senr’s son, Isaac Collivoe, was christened in June 1702 at St Paul Covent Garden and married Mary Calderwood in 1736 at Lincoln’s Inn Chapel. He was listed in the 1749 Westminster poll book as Isaac Collivoe, limner. He was a church warden in 1756, and is presumably the picture cleaner and mender, ‘Collibou’, listed in Maiden Lane in Mortimer's Universal Directory in 1763. He was in Maiden Lane by 1739 when recorded in the rate book. He was a subscriber to Mary Jones’s Miscellanies in Prose and Verse‎ in 1750 and is named again in the 1760 edition (information from Richard Stephens).

As a picture dealer or collector, Collivoe purchased pictures at auction at 15 or more sales between 1738 and 1759 (‘Sale catalogues of the principal collections of pictures..., 1711-1759’, V&A National Art Library, 86.OO.18-19; see also Pears 1988 pp.75, 244 n.100).

Collivoe died at his house in Maiden Lane in 1769, when he was described as ‘an eminent picture cleaner and dealer in pictures’ (Middlesex Journal 12 September 1769). In his will, made 17 November 1764 and proved 14 October 1769, Isaac Collivoe, limner, left a lifetime interest in various properties in Poland St, Cockspur St and Claremont Lane to his wife, Mary, and following her death variously to his cousin John Rea, to his cousin Jacob Collivoe and to Thomas Waterfield. His wife, Mary Collivoe, ‘otherwise Collive’, widow of St Paul Covent Garden, died four years later in 1773, leaving a lengthy will.

Collivoe’s collection of prints, drawings and books was advertised for sale in 1770 and his pictures and models the following year, mainly old masters but also work by Rysbrack, Richard Wilson and John Wootton (Gazeteer and New Daily Advertiser 17 November 1770, 5 May 1771). In the advertisement for his print sale, it was stated that, ‘As the late Mr. Collivoe was a great subscriber, as well as encourager of the artists, best part of the collection consists of the first proofs’.

His one time assistant, Thomas Spencer (qv) advertised in 1769 that for 29 years he had finished all of Mr Collivoe’s best pictures (Gazeteer and New Daily Advertiser 16 December 1769). Another picture restorer, William Comyns (qv), advertised in 1767 that he had been Collivoe’s late apprentice.

Collivoe junr as a picture restorer: Collivoe had a wide-ranging clientele. He worked for the Royal Family, cleaning pictures for Frederick Prince of Wales and for George III (Millar 1991 p.22; see also below).

Collivoe was paid substantial sums between 1742 and 1763 for cleaning and mending pictures for John Russell, 3rd Duke of Bedford, as published by G. Scott Thomson. Collivoe seems to have worked on his own premises, rather than at Bedford House in London or Woburn in Bedfordshire. In 1742, his restoration work, mainly on the Duke’s recent purchases, came to £40.3s. This included ‘cleaning two large landscapes by Poussin’ and ‘new stretching frames and stretching the same’, totalling 12 guineas, and ‘cleaning and mending, in very bad condition, a large landscape by Claud’ and ‘a new stretching frame and new stretching the same’, totalling 7 guineas, as well as repairing the frame to the Claude for £7. In 1748 Collivoe treated purchases made by the Duke at the sale of Mr Bragg’s pictures, including a ‘Rembrandt’, now ascribed to Govaert Flink, Joseph interpreting his Dream to Pharaoh’s Baker (Woburn Abbey). About the same time he restored Benedetto Castiglione’s The Departure of the Israelites out of Egypt, ‘taking off the painted spots and mending and cleaning’, and cleaned Murillo’s large Cherubs scattering flowers (Woburn Abbey), both for 8 guineas. In 1755 as many as 53 family portraits were sent to him for treatment. He was also responsible for painting two landscapes for chimney pieces, charging the considerable sum of £175.12s in August 1757 for this work and for cleaning and mending pictures (Einberg 2001 p.116, who makes reference to six substantial payments to Collivoe).

When approached in 1763 by the Duke of Bedford’s agent, Robert Butcher, to undertake further work, Collivoe replied that ‘my time… is greatly taken up with Cleaning the Kings pictures that I cant have time hardly for Either to brakefast or dine and after I finishd with the Kings must Emediatly Goe to Chiswick to doe lord Burlingtons pictures’. He was paid in February 1764 for cleaning two pictures in the Royal Collection, a Magdalen and Perseus and Andromeda (LC 5/168 f.207).

Collivoe was paid £11.6s for cleaning and framing pictures for the Evelyn family, 1742 (Evelyn papers, Christchurch, Oxford, see George Beare,, Chichester, 1989, p.5). He received £8.8s from Henry Hoare for cleaning pictures in 1748 (Hoare’s personal account book at C. Hoare & Co, transcribed by Jonny Yarker, communicated by Richard Stephens, May 2012). It would appear that the Duke of Devonshire was sending pictures to ‘Collevaux’ in London in 1760, presumably for cleaning (Walpole’s Correspondence, vol.40, 1980, pp.181-2, letter dated 2 September 1760).

Much later, ‘Colliveau, a celebrated Picture-cleaner and mender’ was mocked by the painter Julius Caesar Ibbetson for his scouring of pictures and ridiculed for his supposed cleaning of a highly finished Dutch picture (Julius Caesar Ibbetson, An accidence, or gamut, of Painting in oil and water colours, etc, 1803, p.13).

Sources: G. Scott Thomson, ‘The Restoration of the Duke of Bedford’s Pictures’, Burlington Magazine, vol.92, 1950, pp.320-1. For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.

Updated March 2015, August 2019
Timothy Collopy, 112 Grafton St, Dublin 1780, 4 Little Maddox St, Hanover Square, London by 1783-1788 or later, South Moulton St, London 1804. Portrait and religious painter, also picture restorer.

Timothy Collopy (d.1811) was born in Limerick. The most useful source of information on this Irish painter and restorer is Lenihan’s History of Limerick, cited here as Lenihan 1866, which draws on information from Collopy’s acquaintance, the Irish portrait painter, John Gubbins (see Sources below). For a recent account providing additional information, see Nicola Figgis, in Art and Architecture of Ireland. Vol. 2, Painting, 1600-1900, 2014, pp.212-3.

An early example of Collopy’s work as an artist is a rather bad portrait of Dr Martin, said to be signed T. Coplopy 1770, presumably a misreading for Collopy (image, National Portrait Gallery files). His signed portrait, Wellbore Ellis, 1st Baron Mendip, is in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, ex-Society of Antiquaries of Scotland (information from Martin Hopkinson).

Collopy studied in Rome and Naples, 1771-3, making friends with fellow Irish artist Henry Tresham, before returning to Ireland (John Ingamells, A Dictionary of British and Irish Travellers in Italy 1701-1800, 1997). He exhibited at the Society of Artists at Dublin in 1777 and 1780. He painted an Ascension in 1782 for Father Walsh, an Augustinian friar who had originally identified his talent in painting (Lenihan 1866). He came to London in or before 1783 (Strickland 1913 pp.191-2), exhibiting at the Royal Academy in 1786 and 1788. In his will, made 16 September 1804 and proved 5 August 1811, Timothy Collopy, portrait painter of South Moulton St, left his estate to his illegitimate son, George Collopy of the city of Limerick, subject to certain specific bequests. In proving his unwitnessed will, it was stated that he had died on 4 May 1811, and Henry Campbell and Henry Tresham testified that the handwriting in the will was indeed Collopy’s. His paintings, drawings, prints and books were auctioned by Mr Christie, 20-21 December 1811 (Lugt 1938 no.8093).

Restoration work: Collopy worked as a picture restorer at Saltram House in October and November 1795, cleaning and varnishing numerous pictures throughout the house, according to his letter of 29 November that year to the 1st Earl of Morley in London (Sitwell 1998 pp.130-1). He refers to having completed the pictures on the staircase and those in the Saloon except for two by Angelica Kauffmann, which were problematic because of the small cracks to be filled. He also referred to 59 further pictures requiring cleaning and varnishing in three rooms. He was described by Lord Morley’s sister as ‘a little painter who is in the house cleaning pictures’. He was remembered at Saltram by a room called the Collopy Room.

Collopy also cleaned pictures in the collection of the Earl of Bute, later Marquis of Bute, in London (Lenihan 1866). In the case of his picture of the Ascension he gave directions for cleaning it by washing with warm water and a little soap, and the white of two eggs to be sponged over it after washing (Lenihan 1866).

Sources: M. Lenihan, Limerick; Its History and Antiquities, 1866, p.344.

For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.

William Comyns, Cambridge St, near Broad St, Carnaby Market, London 1767, King St at corner of Crown St, Westminster 1777-1786, Crown St 1787, 1799-1818, King St 1805-1808, 23 Crown St 1811. Picture cleaner, restorer and artist.

There appear to have been at least three generations of men by the name of William Comyns active as painters or restorers, although their relationship remains to be clarified. In the first and third generations, the Comyns had links with Isaac Collivoe (qv), father or son.

The early generations: In 1673 William Comins (?1659-1714), son of William, girdler, was apprenticed to Edward Mole of the Painters’ Company, and as William Comins or Commins he himself took apprentices, Robert Singer in 1687, John Holland in 1706 and Robert Chambers in 1709 (Webb 2003 pp.12, 33, 58). He is presumably the ‘Willm Comins’ who witnessed the will of Edward Davis, engraver and auctioneer of St Albans St, St James's, on 7 March 1697, along with Isaac Collivoe (qv) and ‘Ri: Robins’, as yet unidentified, with Henry Cooke (qv) as one of the executors (information from Richard Stephens, February 2010). He would appear to be ‘William Comyns’, painter of St James Westminster, who is known through his will, made 11 May and proved 29 June 1714, in which he refers to his son William Comyns, among other relatives, kinsmen and friends, specifying that an inventory should be taken and an auction arranged for his pictures, prints, drawings etc. Sales were held in 1715 and 1717 of the pictures of the late William Comyns (Daily Courant 7 February 1715, London Gazette 29 January 1717).

According to George Vertue, ‘Commyns’, towards the end of his life, in partnership with John Cock and Owen MacSwiny, had brought Houbraken from Amsterdam to make copies of works by Van Dyck for engraving (Vertue vol.I, p.30). Vertue also reported that Comyns owned Francis Cleyn’s copies of the Raphael cartoons, which were copied while in his possession, certain of them passing to his son-in-law, named Holland (Vertue vol.I, pp.59, 68-9). This son-in-law is presumably to be identified with Comyns’ former apprentice, John Holland. It was in 1720 that John Holland married Elizabeth Comyns at St Mary Magdalene in Old Fish St.

In the next generation, William Comyns, limner of St Margaret's Westminster, is known to have held property in Cheltenham from a record of the Cheltenham Manor Court held in 1749. He may perhaps be one of the executors named in 1755 in the will of his brother-in-law, the painter John Holland, but he was himself dead by June 1760 when Holland’s will was proved (information from Anthony Pincott, September 2011). There is a reference to a later William Comyns at the Cheltenham Manor Court held on 22 October 1790 (information from James Hodsdon, March 2008).

Comyns the picture restorer: In what may be the third generation, the picture restorer, William Comyns (?c.1746-1815?), advertised in 1767 as ‘late Apprentice to Mr. Collivoe, of Maiden Lane’, offering to clean, restore and repair pictures, and also to clean and restore painted halls, staircases and ceilings (Public Advertiser 5 March 1767). On the death in 1769 of Isaac Collivoe (qv), Comyns went into partnership with Collivoe’s long-term assistant, Thomas Spencer (qv) (Gazeteer and New Daily Advertiser 16 December 1769) and at Spencer’s death in 1776 or 1777 he acted as one of his executors (Daily Advertiser 25 January 1777).

William Comyns took out insurance with the Sun Fire office on his premises at the corner of Crown St in King St, Westminster, in 1777 as a painter and picture cleaner, referring to his apartments over the auction room of Mr Affleck, and in 1781, 1784 and 1786 as a picture cleaner (London Metropolitan Archives, Sun Fire Office policy registers, 257/383120, 291/441618, 336/516709, 336/516709). As a limner of Crown St, Westminster, he took an apprentice, Charles Birch (qv) for seven years in 1787 for the considerable premium of £200.

Joseph Farington visited ‘Comyns, the Picture cleaner’ in 1794 to see four pictures by Vernet (Farington, vol.1 p.167) and the following year reported that Angerstein had paid Comyns 15 guineas for cleaning a Cuyp landscape and 5 guineas for a half length Vernet, while Thomas Lawrence had paid him 5 guineas for cleaning ‘Vandergucht’s Rembrandt’ (Farington, vol.2 p.373).

In London directories Comyns was variously described as a limner in 1799, an artist in 1802, a miniature painter in 1808 and as a picture cleaner in 1811. ‘Mr Comyns’ used the carver and gilder, John Smith, to undertake work on picture frames, including regilding, 1812-4 (V&A National Art Library, John Smith ledgers, 86.CC.1, p.51). There was another William Comyns active in Piccadilly in the early 19th century.

William Comyns submitted a bill to Earl Spencer in June 1801 for visiting Althorp and for work on nine pictures, apparently in London since he makes a charge for packing (British Library, Add.MS 76298, Spencer papers). His charges were greatest for ‘cleaning & mending the young Conaro by Titian in bad condition’ at £12.12s, ‘cleaning & mending a Landscape & Cattle by Berchem’ at £10, ‘cleaning & mending a Portrait of Lady Camden in bad condition by Sr. J Reynolds’ at £8.18s.6d and ‘cleaning & mending the Crusifiction of St. Andrew by Le Brun’ at £8.8s.

Comyns was paid £9.18s.6d in 1801 for cleaning pictures for the Duke of Montrose (National Archives of Scotland, GD220/65/1, Montrose Muniments). 'Comyns’ charged Amabel Yorke, Baroness Lucas, later Countess de Grey for work on various pictures, including £8.8s in September 1813 for 'Cleaning Ironing down stoping and mending' Eustache Le Seuer's Alexander and his doctor (National Gallery, see Mérot in Sources below). He also sold her a portrait of a man said to be by Velázquez (see Glendinning in Sources below).

Comyns purchased Veronese’s Vision of St Helena (National Gallery) at a London auction sale in 1803 and it was seen in his possession the following year by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who wrote about it to Robert Southey, urging him to see it at ‘Commyn’s the picture cleaner in Pall Mall’ (Penny 2008 p.390); the picture was included in Comyns’s picture sale at Christie’s, 6 May 1815 (Burton Fredericksen (ed.), The Index of Paintings sold in the British Isles during the 19th century: 1811-1815, vol.3, part 1, 1993, p.85).

Sources: Alain Mérot and Humphrey Wine, 'Alexander and his doctor: a rediscovered masterpiece by Eustache Le Sueur', Burlington Magazine, vol.142, 2000, p.294; Nigel Glendinning et al., ‘Lord Grantham and the taste for Velázquez’, Burlington Magazine, vol.141, 1999, p.605, n.59.

Henry Cooke, Long Acre, London 1695, Bloomsbury Square 1700. History and decorative painter, also portrait painter.

Henry Cooke (c.1642-1700) is best known as a history and decorative painter. His career has been traced in detail by Edward Croft-Murray (see Sources below). Cooke lived and worked in Italy, apparently for two periods of seven years each (Vertue vol.1, p.42), perhaps in the 1660s and 1670s. He undertook decorative painting at the Royal Hospital, Chelsea, c.1690, and elsewhere (Croft-Murray 1962 pp.245-6; see also Vertue vol.1, pp.40, 45). He was named as one of the executors in the will of Edward Davis, engraver and auctioneer of St Albans St, St James's, on 7 March 1697 (information from Richard Stephens, February 2010).

Cooke died in London on 18 November 1700, age nearly 58, and was buried in St Giles Church, according to Bainbrigg Buckeridge (Buckeridge 1706 pp.408-9). In his will, made 30 October and proved 2 December 1700, Henry Cooke, gentlemen of St Giles-in-the-Fields, made bequests to his daughter, Elizabeth and son, Henry, appointing as executors his son and his friends, John Closterman the artist and Mr Seamer, goldsmith of Fleet St. His collection of prints and drawings was offered for sale by auction at his late dwelling house in Bloomsbury in January 1701 and his pictures the following month (London Gazette 6 January 1701, 20 February 1701).

As a restorer, Cooke was employed by William III, together with Parry Walton (qv), to repair the Raphael cartoons, then at Hampton Court, and to restore other pictures in the Royal Collection, according to George Vertue, writing in or after 1721 from information supplied him by Mr Sykes (Vertue vol.1, p.94, vol.3, p.43); the King was said to be so well pleased that he gave Cooke the place of repairer of pictures, although Walton enjoyed the salary for this position. Cooke’s work on the cartoons may have taken place in or before 1693 when Walton was paid for repairs, or may not have taken place until 1698, shortly before they were publicly displayed.

Sources: Edward Croft-Murray and Paul Hulton, Catalogue of British Drawings, XVI & XVII Centuries, British Museum, 1960, pp.289-90, Croft-Murray 1962 p.245. For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.

*Hahn & Cooke 1924-1928, J.H. Cooke & Son 1929-1930, J.H. Cooke & Sons 1931-1940, 1946-1959, J.H. Cooke & Sons Ltd 1960 to date. At 13New Burlington Place, London 1924-1940, 14 Mason's Yard, Duke St, St James’s 1945-1975, Station Avenue, Kew, TW9 3QA 1976 to date. Picture restorers.

Joseph Henry Cooke (1877-1958) initially worked for the Izod brothers (qv). His activities following their bankruptcy in 1912 remain to be documented. His formal partnership with Charles Hahn (qv) as picture restorers is not recorded in the Post Office London directory until 1924, although he had worked with ‘Hahn’ on the Banqueting House ceiling as early as 1907. When the Hahn & Cooke partnership ended in disagreement in 1928, apparently over the matter of taking Cooke’s younger son into the business, Cooke set up independently with his sons, Cyril William Cooke (1904-66) and Sydney James Cooke (1905-91). The business continues to trade today.

Joseph Henry Cooke was born in the St Pancras district in 1877, the son of James Cooke, hairdresser, and his wife, Emma. In census records he can be found in 1901 as a picture restorer, age 23, living with his parents, and in 1911 in Harlesden as a picture restorer (worker), age 33, with his wife Florence Jenny, and two sons, Cyril William, age 7, and Sydney James, age 5.

When Cooke set up independently, he continued to trade from New Burlington Place. The business was not listed in directories between 1941 and 1947 but it was represented at meetings of the British Association of Picture Restorers as early as 1944 (BAPR minutes, 18 December 1944) and was undertaking restoration work in 1946 (see below). After the war, it took premises in Mason's Yard, which were once stables belonging to the Cavendish Hotel and until renovation was carried out in 1955-7 the studio on the upper storey is said to have been roofed only by the tarred floorboards of the vanished rooms above (information from Simon Padfield, August 2009).

Joseph Henry Cooke died in November 1958, leaving personal estate of £5388, with probate granted to his sons, Cyril and Sydney, described as picture restorers. Cyril William Cooke was born in the Islington district in 1904 and died age 62 in the Brent district in 1966. Sydney James Cooke was born in the Hendon district in 1905 and died in Hillingdon in 1991. The business moved to Kew in 1976 and was not listed in the Post Office London directory after 1979. It now operates from new premises in Kew.

For the business today, see (accessed February 2014), listing the five full-time conservator restorers as Philip Robinson, Michael Robinson (with Cooke & Sons since 1981), Simon Padfield (since 1990), Jon Webb (since c.2001) and Luke Williams (the newest recruit).

Restoration work: At the Banqueting House in 1907 the retouching of Rubens’s ceiling paintings was undertaken by ‘Hahn’ and ‘Cooke’, presumably Charles Hahn (qv) and Joseph Cooke, working for Izod & Co (Martin 2005 p.125, n.127).

Some of Cooke’s institutional clients can be identified. For the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, the business cleaned and restored two works inked to Rubens in 1937 and Abbott’s Naval Officer in 1938 and attended to other work in 1939 (Ashmolean Museum, Dept of Western Art, receipted bills). It treated the Brangwyn murals in the Committee Dining Room at Lloyd’s Register of Shipping in the 1940s and 1950s. It may have relined William Hogarth's March to Finchley (Foundling Museum) in 1946 (Nunn 2009 p.245; the stretcher is inscribed 'RJ Banly JH Cooke 1946'). For the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, Cooke’s lined and cleaned Delacroix’s sketch, La Sagesse et la Vigilance in 1954 and cleaned Gilbert Spencer’s Dorset Downs in 1956 (Fitzwilliam Museum, annual reports). Private work has included cleaning a Stubbs belonging to the Chaworth-Musters family of Nottingham, where figures of John Musters and his wife Sophia were uncovered (see H. Wilberforce-Bell, ‘The Vicissitudes of a Picture by George Stubbs’, Country Life, vol.80, 26 September 1936, p.lii).

Much of the firm’s activity, however, has focused on dealers active in and around Bond St, close to the Cooke’s premises until 1975, including Agnew’s, Colnaghi, Leggatt, Reid & Lefevre (Van Gogh’s Alexander Reid, now in Glasgow, was restored by Cooke’s in the early 1950s), Knoedler, Matthiessen, Ackermann, Roland Browse & Delbanco (later Browse & Darby) and Leger (information from Simon Padfield, August 2009.

Samuel Coombes, 49 Holywell St, London EC 1869-1870, 331 Strand 1869-1901, 175 Strand (‘opposite Australian Commonwealth’) 1902-1941. Also at 2½ Houghton St, Clare Market 1884-1895, works 328 Strand 1902, 35 Waterloo Road, SE 1903-1908, 8 Eastcheap, EC 1909-1910. Manufacturing carver and gilder, art dealer, picture liner, restorer and cleaner.

See British picture framemakers on this website.

Added January 2017, updated March 2020
Gustave Pierre Coulette, London by 1911, 3 Rosstti Studios, Flood St, SW3 1933-1940, 25 Eton Hall, Haverstock Hill, NW3 1941-1954, 5 Eldon Grove, NW3 1955-1964. Picture framer, restorer, collector, possibly dealer.

Gustave Pierre Coulette (1886-1964), or Pierre Coulette as he was generally known, was the son of a French chef, Gustave, and his wife, Emilie, in London. In the 1911 census at the age of 24, he was living with his parents in Chelsea, when he was listed as Pierre, a decorator and worker. He married Dorothy Whiting in the Brentford District in 1916, but she died in 1919 in, or soon after, giving birth to a daughter Yvonne in the Fulham district in 1919. He died, age 79, in 1964 (London Gazette 15 January 1965, address given as 5 Eldon Grove, NW3).

Pierre Coulette was brought in to the National Gallery by Kenneth Clark when he became director in 1934. Coulette undertook considerable framing work for the Gallery, 1934-7, including producing shadow boxes. He was paid for framing and other work amounting to more than £9 in 1934, £90 in 1935, £65 in 1936, £186 in 1937, £32 in 1938 and £100 in 1939, considerable payments (National Gallery archive, NG13/1/11-12). He did unspecified work in 1934 on Samuel van Hoogstraten’s A Peep Show. In 1938 he cleaned Pietro Lorenzetti’s small predella panel, St Sabinus before the Roman Governor (NG1/11, 15 November 1938) and in 1939 most of the Venetian multi-panelled altarpiece of the Virgin Mary (NG10/13, inv.4250). He was in correspondence with Kenneth Clark in 1947 and 1954 from 25 Eton Hall, Eton College Road, NW3, about cleaning pictures in Clark’s own collection, including a ‘Pietro Lorenzetti’ Madonna (Tate archive, TGA 8812/1/2/1586-1588).

Added March 2016
Frank Walter Creffield. Craftsman at the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery, 1932-1960.

Frank Walter Creffield (1895-1980) was born in Margate on 25 April 1895 and at the time of the 1911 census he was an apprentice cabinetmaker. He came to London and in 1932 took up a position at the National Gallery as Repairing Assistant ‘on the understanding that his services would be shared by the National Portrait Gallery’ (National Gallery Report, 1932, p.4, information from Ceri Brough). He transferred to the National Portrait Gallery as Second Class Attendant in September 1939, being promoted to First Class Attendant in 1943 and Craftsmen in 1950 (NPG personnel records). He retired on 31 July 1960 (see NPG Trustees’ minutes, 20 October 1960, p.8) and was awarded the Imperial Service Medal (London Gazette 27 September 1960). Creffield died at the age of 85 in the Wandsworth registration district in 1980.

Work as a panel repairer: Creffield came to the fore at the National Portrait Gallery in 1947, when the chairman of trustees, the artist Henry Lamb and officers of the Gallery, presumably including the Director Henry Hake, consulted ‘Vallance’, either the father William Vallance or his son Roy, in making a survey of cracked panel paintings (Trustees’ minutes, 24 April 1947); there was general agreement that ‘the repairs could be done by the house carpenter’ (Creffield), who then fitted up a workshop to work under supervision. For Vallance, see William Holder & Sons.

Over the next five years Creffield treated the stusture of various panels in the National Portrait Gallery collection, including the Darnley Queen Elizabeth I, July 1948 (NPG 2082), the Mierevelt studio panel, Viscount Dorchester, July 1949 (NPG 110), Hans Eworth’s Nicholas Heath, also July 1949 (NPG 1388), 1st Viscount Brackley (NPG 3783), June 1951, and the Anglo-Netherlandish panel, King Henry VIII, January 1952 (NPG 3638) (information from Polly Saltmarsh and Laura Hinde, February-March 2015). His method generally was to insert distinctive diamond buttons in the reverse of the panel joins, one or two of which he would mark with an impressed stamp, ‘FWC’ and the date in ink. In the case of the rather later panel, 1st Marquess of Hastings (NPG 2696), he inserted two slightly wedge-shaped horizontal sliding battens into two channels in the back of the panel in January 1953 (information from Laura Hinde).

In November 1960, a few months after Creffield’s retirement, the Director, Kingsley Adams wrote to him requesting him to kindly let the Gallery ‘have those very valuable note-books of yours in which you recorded the work you had done on portrait frames’ but Creffield responded that the notebooks had been discarded since he had made no entries for years and that ‘there were so many “swops” and replacements the whole thing did not make any sense’ (NPG personnel records).

Arthur Crossland, 19 Lexham Mews, Earls Court Road, London W8 1935-1939, 59 South Edwardes Square 1936-1937. Supplier of flexible gesso canvas, picture restorer.

Arthur Crossland was listed as a picture restorer in the 1935 and 1936 telephone directories. See British artists' suppliers on this website, under The Collector's Picture Restoring Co. Ltd.

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

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