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British picture restorers, 1600-1950 - F

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

Introduction Resources and bibliography

[FE] [FR] [FU]

Updated January 2017
Henry Farrer  1822-1826,1834-1843, Henry and William Farrer 1844-1847, Henry Farrer 1848-1864. At13 King St, Soho, London 1822-1828, 24 Barton St, Camden Town 1834-1839, 4 Barton Place, Camden Town 1840-1843, 14 Wardour St 1834-1855, 106 New Bond St 1856-1866. Miniature painter in 1822, subsequently picture dealer and picture restorer, by 1858 also dealer in antiquities.

As a dealer, Henry Farrer FSA (1798-1866) was said to know ‘so much about old masters that his opinion is constantly asked, paid for, and considered conclusive; his charge… one guinea for a single picture, and ten for a collection’ (William Powell Frith, Further Reminiscences, 1888, pp.339-40). The name, Farrer, occurs as an occasional buyer of pictures at auction from as early as 1796, and as both a buyer and a seller from 1820 until the 1840s or later (Getty provenance index), suggesting that Farrer’s father, or another member of the family, was also active in the market.

Henry Farrer was born on 11 December 1798 and christened at St Mary Marylebone on 7 January 1799, the son of Henry and Jane Farrer, and grandson of the portrait painter Nicholas Farrer (1750-1805) (Michael Bryan, Dictionary of Painters and Engravers, 1849, p.239). In giving evidence to the 1853 Select Committee on the National Gallery, Farrer claimed to have been brought up by his grandfather and to have practised as a miniature painter for several years but that his attention had been called to picture cleaning by Thomas Lawrence. In his evidence, he also stated that he had been assisted in picture cleaning by his two brothers, both of whom were now dead.

Henry Farrer married Martha Hearne in 1821; their son, Henry Thomas Joseph Farrer, was christened at St Pancras Old Church in 1824. Farrer was listed as a miniature painter at 13 King St, Soho in 1822, and as a picture dealer from 1823. He took out insurance as an artist from 9 Adam’s Terrace, Hampstead Road, Camden Town in 1827 and was recorded there as a portrait painter in 1828. In the same year Edward Farrer and W. Farrer are listed, perhaps his brothers.

Henry Farrer moved to 14 Wardour St by 1834. In December 1835, he had two pictures on his premises by Claude, a sea port and a landscape, insured by the dealer James Dunsford at £200 each. ‘Henry and William Farrar’, artists and dealers in pictures, took out their own insurance in 1835, 1836 and 1839, and William insured premises in Camden Town in 1835. By 1840, the insurance at 14 Wardour St was in Henry’s name, but his partnership with William seems to have lasted until 1847. The limit on the insurance value of any one picture was raised from £50 in 1835 to £300 in 1840, a sign of Farrer’s growing success.

In census records, in 1851 Henry Farrer, artist and picture dealer, age 51, was recorded at 15 Albert Road, Marylebone, with his wife Martha, age 47, and son Henry T.J. Farrer, age 27, a picture restorer, and in 1861 only the son was recorded at this address, as an artist. The father, Henry Farrer, died at 15 Albert Road in April 1866, leaving effects worth under £16,000, a considerable sum (information from Lorne Campbell). In 1866 Christie’s offered for sale both the objects of art and virtu of the late Henry Farrer and also the lease of 106 New Bond St, at a yearly rent of £210 until 1872, consisting of a spacious gallery and five ground-floor rooms (Daily News 11 June 1866). Henry Farrer’s son, Henry Thomas Joseph Farrer (1824-67), died soon after his father, leaving effects worth under £3000.

Activities as dealer: As a dealer, Farrer acted for Lord Northwick on occasion in the 1840s and 1850s, and it has been suggested that this involved both the Farrers, father and son (Oliver Bradbury and Nicholas Penny, 'The picture collecting of Lord Northwick: Part II', Burlington Magazine, vol.144, 2002, p.606). Farrer also advised Joseph Gillott, the Birmingham pen manufacturer, on old master paintings from 1846 (Chapel 2008 p.43). Farrer was a major purchaser at the Stowe sale held by Christie's in 1848 (Henry Forster, The Stowe Catalogue Priced and Annotated, 1848, pp.176, 178, 180-2, 185, 190-1, 193, 195). Farrer purchased John Everett Millais’s Carpenter’s Shop in 1850, and both Mariana and Ophelia in 1851 (all Tate Gallery, see Jason Rosenfeld and Alison Smith, Millais, 2007, pp.46, 52, 68). For further information on Farrer’s dealing and collecting activities, see Mark Westgarth, ‘Dictionary of 19th century antique & curiosity dealers’, Regional Furniture, vol.23, 2010, pp.99-100).

Farrer offered pictures for sale to the National Gallery and on occasion gave advice about potential acquisitions, 1840-64; he received as much as £10.10s for giving an opinion on Guido Reni’s Susanna and the Elders in 1845 and sold Velasquez’s Boar Hunt to the Gallery in 1846 (National Gallery Archive, NG13/1/1, NG5/61/6, numerous further references). He donated Gilbert Stuart’s William Woollett to the National Gallery in 1849 and gave Thomas Lawrence's drawing, a face study of the Countess of Mornington, to the National Portrait Gallery in 1861. He had 'a long and fruitful relationship' with the South Kensington Museum, lending or selling Renaissance and other objects (Clive Wainwright, 'The Banker, the Prince and the Dealers: Three Renaissance objects in the Victoria and Albert Museum', Apollo, vol.151, February 2000, pp.41-6, information from Mark Westgarth).

Farrer inspected pictures on offer to the Fitzwilliam Museum, including those in the Vint collection in 1850/1, the Hare bequest in 1855 (charging a total of £75.15s for a valuation and for carriage of pictures), Mrs Brackenbury’s offer in 1863 and the VanSittart gift in 1864 (Fitzwilliam Museum Management Syndicate minutes, 16 October 1863, 18 March 1864; accounts 1850/1 and 1854/5 at end of minutes).

Activities as a restorer: As a picture restorer, Farrer gave a fairly full list of his early clients in his application for the post of Keeper, or as he called it, Conservator, of the National Gallery in November 1843, following the death of William Seguier (qv) (British Library, Add.MS 40535 f.279, Peel papers). Writing from 14 Wardour St, he claimed to have had over 30 years ‘very great experience in Works of Art in this and Foreign Countries’, and to have expended very large sums of money in purchasing and importing pictures of high quality. He added that he had cleaned and restored pictures by the late Sir Thomas Lawrence and by many Royal Academicians, and most of the nobility, gentry and Members of Parliament. His claim would imply that his experience began at the age of 14 in 1813.

In this application of 1843, he gave a list of clients, namely the Dukes of Buccleuch, Bedford, Richmond, Beaufort and Newcastle; the Marquises of Lansdowne and Abercorn; the Lords Northwick, Lowther, Francis Egerton, Warwick, Harrington, Chelsea, Berwick, Clare, Southampton, Redesdale, Nugent, Monson, Beauchamp, Ellenborough, Arthur Lennox, Ripon, Suffolk and Seymour; Count Surveilliers; Viscount Holmesdale; Sir Claude de Crespigny Bart; Sir John Easthope, Sir Denham Jephson Norreys, Sir Samuel Fludyer, Sir Hugh Hume Campbell, Sir Samuel Meyrick, Sir Ralph Howard, Sir Samuel Spry, Sir James Wigram and Sir Thomas Whitchcote; the Honourables Maurice Fitzgerald (Knight of Kerry), John Ashley, Thomas Liddle, Henry Westenra(?), Colonel Fitzgibbon, G.R. Trevor and F. Byng; and MPs Thomas Wyse, Ralph Bernal, B. Thompson, E.J. Cooper, H. Broadwood, --- Hope, Otway Cave, John Stewart and J.L. Hodges.

Little is known of his subsequent clients but that he continued picture restoration is suggested by the statement of the restorer, WilliamDyer (qv), who claimed to have worked for 20 years with Farrer, perhaps c.1846-66. Farrer appears to have restored only one picture for the National Gallery, a work by Hobbema for £10 in 1862 (National Gallery Archive, NG13/1/3). He restored Joshua Reynolds’s John Hunter (Royal College of Surgeons), apparently in the early 1860s, which was described by Tom Taylor as ‘perhaps the greatest triumph of care and skill in this kind’ (Leslie 1865, vol.1, p.377, vol.2, p.475). ’Old Mr Farrer’ in Wardour St lined and cleaned Joseph Wright of Derby’s Air Pump for Edward Tyrrell, who recounted the painting’s history when he gave it to the National Gallery in 1863 (National Gallery Archive, NG5/146/8).

In giving evidence on the cleaning of pictures to the 1853 Select Committee on the National Gallery, Farrer claimed that he knew nobody in England who used dammar varnish, apart from himself (National Gallery Technical Bulletin, vol.22, 2001, p.64). In his evidence to a later committee, the National Gallery Site Commission in 1857, Farrer was one of the better-informed witnesses, identifying the importance of protecting a canvas from the back and discussing the problems of blistering with panels (Report, p.7). He said that he had cleaned some pictures in the Merchant Taylors’ School, the Merchant Taylors’ Hall, and recently those belonging to the Armourers’ Company, including a large picture by Northcote; he was then working on pictures belonging to the Duke of Sutherland (Report, pp.7, 54).

Sources: Biographical information kindly supplied by Lorne Campbell. London Metropolitan Archives, Sun Fire Office policy registers, 550/1208574, 552/1228382, 571/1304458, 572/1328550; see also ‘Out of London’ registers, MS 11937, 161/1060080, 218/1200496, 219/1200501. Report from the Select Committee on the National Gallery, 1853, pp.71-88. National Gallery Site Commission, 1857. For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.

Feilot, see Christopher Cock

Fenn ‘the Liegois’(active 1651-1655), Purpoole Lane [Portpool Lane, Holborn], London. Colourman.

Fenn supplied canvases to the artist, Robert Walker, and sold colours at 5s a pot the size of a walnut as well as primed canvases, according to Richard Symonds, 1651-2 (Beal 1978 pp.88, 307, 311; see also Talley 1981 p.204). He had a facility for smoothing old and tattered wrinkled pictures (Beal 1978 p.311).

*Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, established 1816.

What follows is an initial exploration of the history of fine art restoration at the Fitzwilliam, focussing mainly on paintings (sections 2 and 3) but also making mention of western works on paper and of sculpture (sections 4 to 6). Initially the priority of the Fitzwilliam Museum Syndicate (equivalent to a board of trustees) was on housing the collection. Once the present purpose-built museum building opened in 1848, the Fitzwilliam Museum Management Syndicate was formed. From time to time, the Fitzwilliam commissioned detailed collection surveys of its paintings, including from Robert Roe in 1863, F. Haines & Sons in 1903 and Horace Buttery in 1932. More recently, the Fitzwilliam established the Hamilton Kerr Institute for the conservation of paintings in 1976.

1. The years to 1848
2. Restoration of paintings, 1849-1914
3. Restoration of paintings, from 1914
4. Mounting works on paper, 1849-1914
5. Restoration of works on paper, from 1914
6. Restoration of sculpture etc

The broad thrust of restoration work at the museum can be identified from Registry files of correspondence and reports, the Syndicate minutes, the Syndicate annual report and the Syndicate accounts, cited here respectively as ‘Registry files’, ‘Minutes’, ‘Report’ and ‘Accounts’ (see Sources below). More detailed information can sometimes be found in financial records, cited by ledger or box number.

1. The years to 1848
Richard Fitzwilliam, 7th Viscount Fitzwilliam, died in 1816, leaving his collections to the university together with a sum of money to build a museum. The collections were housed in temporary quarters while the museum was planned and built to the design of George Basevi. When pictures in the Founder’s Bequest began to suffer from damp in 1817, ‘Mr Seguier’ was called in to advise, presumably William Seguier (qv). When parts of the print collection needed rearranging following purchases at auction in 1824, Samuel Woodburn was asked to break up certain volumes in the Founder’s Bequest so as to make a fresh arrangement (Minutes, 15 September 1817, 5 July 1824). As former advisers to Lord Fitzwilliam, both Seguier and Woodburn had been recommended to value the collection in 1816 and so were natural choices to undertake further work as it arose (Registry files, doc.5). For Woodburn, see British picture framemakers on this website).

The next major acquisition, the Daniel Mesman bequest, came to Cambridge in 1834 and opened as the Mesman Museum in temporary quarters at the Pitt Press. Mesman’s adviser, John Seguier (qv), brother to William Seguier, was given responsibility for arranging the pictures under the terms of his will but seems to have done little more than manage the packing of the collection for transport to Cambridge (Registry files, doc.64; Basil Herbertson, 'The Mesman Museum, Cambridge 1834-1848', Journal of the History of Collections, vol.5, 1993, pp.217-22). From 1848 the Mesman pictures were shown at the newly opened Fitzwilliam Museum.

2. Restoration of paintings, 1849-1914
The collection continued to grow following the opening of the new museum in 1848. Major acquisitions included Archdeacon Hare’s bequest of Italian 16th and 17th-century works in 1855, the Ellison gift of modern British pictures in 1862, the VanSittart gifts of Dutch 17th-century and other pictures in 1864 and 1876, the Kerrich bequest including sketches by Rubens in 1873 and the purchase from Charles Butler of early Italian paintings in 1893. The Marlay bequest in 1912 brought mainly Florentine and Venetian paintings.

The impetus for restoration work seems to have been threefold: the need to put new acquisitions in good order, recommendations arising from collection surveys and observation of individual works in need of attention. It was a requirement that restoration work on pictures in the Founder’s Bequest should be carried out on museum premises. In the two or three decades following the opening of the museum, the Fitzwilliam sought professional assistance from three picture experts: the leading Cambridge printseller and picture dealer Robert Roe (1793-1880) for more straightforward restoration, the London picture restorer Henry Merritt (1822-77) for expert restoration work and advice on pictures on offer to the museum, and the London picture dealer and restorer Henry Farrer (1798-1866) for advice and valuations on potential acquisitions. It is worth looking at each man in turn.

Robert Roe (qv) worked for the Fitzwilliam Museum, 1849-75. It would appear from his extensive employment that the Fitzwilliam placed a good deal of confidence in his ability. In 1855, he restored two pictures by Dirk Maas and some pictures in the Hare Bequest. In 1863, he was required to survey the museum’s collection and make recommendations and he was then employed to line and repair three pictures. In 1866, it was agreed to employ him to repair and revarnish a few pictures in the Mesman collection, the Fitzwilliam collection and the Ellison gift. He continued to treat significant works, including Murillo’s St John Baptist with the Scribes and Pharisees, apparently cleaned in 1872/3. He was also employed to examine the prints and drawings in the Kerrich bequest in 1872, together with the curator John Massey. In all, over the years Roe received some £405 (Accounts 1849/50-1874/5). Roe’s role at Cambridge, as the local business dealing with the university museum’s more straightforward needs, can be compared with that of James Wyatt at Oxford (for whom see British picture framemakers on this website).

Henry Merritt (qv) restored Paulo Veronese’s Hermes, Herse and Aglauros in 1859-60, apparently carrying out the work at the Fitzwilliam. He was asked to advise on cleaning certain paintings in 1870, and subsequently. He also reported on paintings offered to the Museum in the Kerrich bequest in 1872 and in the VanSittart collection in 1876, subsequently treating some of these works. In all over the years Merritt received some £277 (Accounts 1858/9-1881/2). For more information on the works treated by him, see his entry in this resource.

Henry Farrer (qv) inspected pictures on behalf of the Fitzwilliam Museum, including those in the Vint collection in 1850/1, the Hare bequest in 1855, Mrs Brackenbury’s offer in 1863 and the VanSittart gift in 1864. In all over the years Farrer received some £115 but does not appear to have treated works (Accounts 1850/51-1876/7).

The Fitzwilliam’s first director, Sidney Colvin, was appointed in 1876 and held office until 1883 before moving to the British Museum. To replace Merritt who had died in 1877, Colvin turned to a young Italian restorer, Giovanni Sciarretta (qv, c.1846-1887), although it is not clear how he selected this otherwise little-known figure, who had only recently set up independently in London. He cleaned two pictures from the Founder’s bequest in 1879, Palma Vecchio’s Venus and Cupid and Sebastiano del Piombo’s Adoration of the Shepherds and four pictures from other collections, including Murillo’s Vision of Fray Lauterio. He cleaned and repaired a further 15 unspecified pictures the following year and another work in 1882. It was specifically recorded that certain pictures from the collections, excepting the Founder’s Bequest, could be removed to London for the purpose. In all Sciarretta received some £186 (Accounts 1878/9-1881/2).

It is worth noting that J.A. Lievens’s Dirck Decker and another Dutch school work in the Founders’ bequest bear the stamp, J JONES/ LINER, of the London liner, John Jones (1842/3-c.1900 or later), as recorded by Philip Pouncey, 1931-3, suggesting that Merritt or Sciarretta may have used him for lining work.

Over the forty years from the mid-1880s it is more difficult to piece the story together. Less picture restoration work appears to have been undertaken and what there was went to four leading London restorers, all members of family dynasties of longstanding: William Dyer, William Holder, F. Haines & Sons and Ayerst Hooker Buttery. Detailed information on the work of these restorers, supplementary to the account below, is given in their individual entries in this online resource.

Dyer received payment for certain work in 1882/3 and treated an Italian St Sebastian panel in 1886 following its acquisition the previous year (Accounts 1882/3; ledger, stock no.960692). When Holder sold Henry Raeburn’s William Glendonwyn to the Fitzwilliam in 1892, he also charged £4 for lining the portrait and for a carved frame (Box 213). The following year he was responsible for carriage and repair of pictures purchased by the museum from Charles Butler but his charge, £6.15s, would suggest that only limited work was needed. His business was employed again in 1907, chiefly to work on a panel by Cuyp for £3.10s (Ledger, stock no.960692).

In 1903, the Fitzwilliam’s director was tasked to consult Lionel Cust, Director of the National Portrait Gallery, on the condition of some of the pictures in the collection and as a result a report was obtained from Haines & Sons (Minutes, 27 January, 24 February 1903). Subsequently Haines repaired Thomas Gainsborough’s William Pitt for £3.3s (Minutes, 20 October 1903). From about 1905 it appears that an increasing number of works in the collection were glazed for protection (Report, 1904). In 1910, Ayerst Hooker Buttery was paid £1.1s for altering two small Norwich painted panels (Ledger, stock no.960692; bills, box 216).

3. Restoration of paintings, from 1914
On the recommendation of Langton Douglas, Sebastiano del Piombo’s badly flaking Adoration of the Shepherds was transferred to a fresh canvas by Frank Morrell (qv) for £150 in 1929-30 (Minutes, 25 April and 30 May 1929, 24 April 1930). While further research is needed into this period, the Fitzwilliam’s annual reports record little other work of significance in the years from 1914 until 1933. Then it was reported that as a result of a careful survey of the whole collection of pictures by Horace Buttery (Ayerst Hooker Buttery’s son), it had been decided ‘to place twenty-three of them in his hands, one or two at a time, for cleaning, strengthening and repair.’ As a result, Buttery treated numerous works in the periods 1933-8 and 1947-62, as recorded in detail in the entry for Buttery in this online resource.

It was perhaps at the time of Buttery’s survey that an occasional sub-committee of the Fitzwilliam’s Syndics was initiated to consider picture cleaning but in 1937 it was said to have not met for some time; nevertheless 24 pictures had been cleaned for £376 over the previous three years (Syndics minutes, 25 November 1937; see also 20 January 1949). As a Syndic from 1925, the Cambridge collector and academic, Andrew Gow (1886-1978), took an active interest in the appearance and restoration of the collection.

Buttery was not the only restorer used by the Museum. Before and after the Second World War, two of the Fitzwilliam’s major paintings were treated by refugees from Germany: Titian’s Tarquin and Lucretia by Helmut Ruhemann (qv), 1939-40, and the Rembrandt school, Man in Fanciful Costume by Johannes Hell (qv), which was cleaned on the premises, 1946-8. What is intriguing is to see how the attitudes of the London art world were played out in Cambridge. Sir Kenneth Clark as Director of the National Gallery recommended Ruhemann for the Titian in 1938 as ‘the only person in the country who could do it’, backed by Sir Augustus Daniel (Clark’s predecessor at the National Gallery) and Lord Balniel, while later Sir Gerald Kelly, a leading Academician, described Hell as the man who was cleaning the Dulwich pictures and some in the Royal Collection, with strong recommendations from Anthony Blunt as Surveyor of the King’s Pictures (Minutes, 20 June 1938, 11 July and 31 October 1946).

For the Titian, Helmut Ruhemann produced a detailed condition report and proposal. Under pressure, he agreed to reduce his estimate from 200gs to 150gs, but even so more than the Museum had ever previously paid (Minutes, 24 November 1938, 19 January 1939). The picture was to be cleaned on the National Gallery’s premises but it was removed to a country house in Gloucestershire on the outbreak of war (Minutes, 19 January 1939, 18 July 1940). Other works received emergency treatment in distant temporary stores during the war with Morrill rejoining a panel by Albert Bouts and laying blisters on the Simone Martini in 1940 and Holder apparently restoring the Bouts (Minutes, 25 April and 30 May 1940).

Immediately following the Second World War, various restorers worked for the Museum, principally Horace Buttery (1947-62; 1948, cleaning Simone Martini’s Three Saints, for 69 gs), but also Johannes Hell (1946-8, Rembrandt school, Man in Fanciful Costume, without fee, see above), W. Morrill & Son (panel repairs: 1947, Aragonese altarpiece; 1948 Cima altarpiece), H.H. Rogers of the Victoria and Albert Museum (1947, securing blistered paint on the Aragonese altarpiece), Muriel Silk (1947-54, including treating 23 pictures in the Founder’s Bequest on-site, 1948), W. Holder & Sons (1948, 1950, 1961), William Drown (1949, on-site work at the initiative of Andrew Gow on 8 early Italian pictures for £62.4s) and Sebastian Isepp (1950-2, notably treating Veronese’s Hermes, Herse and Aglauros for £120, previously restored by Henry Merritt). Details can be found in the Fitzwilliam’s annual reports, the Syndicate minutes and in receipted bills (Box 222). In particular, technical advice was sought from the National Gallery, 1949-50, and the Courtauld Institute, 1949, and Arthur Lucas at the National Gallery dealt with panel work on the Cima altarpiece for £70.7s and repaired a split in Seurat’s Rue St Vincent for £12.12s (Syndicate minutes, 19 January, 16 March and 11 September 1950).

The years after 1950 are not the main focus of this history. However, it is worth noting the conservators recorded in the Fitzwilliam’s annual reports, including Arthur Lucas of the National Gallery for work relating to panels (qv, 1950-60), J.H. Cooke & Sons (qv, 1954-6), John Brealey (qv, 1958-75), Ivor Jones (1960-8), Herbert Lank (1962-76), P.F.J.M. Hermesdorf, Maastricht (1963-4), John Bull (1972), Gisela Helmkampf of the Area Museums Service (1974) and Eva Friedrich (1976). Advice was taken on occasion from both the National Gallery and the Courtauld Institute in investigating works of art before treatment.

From 1976, conservation arrangements at the Fitzwilliam Museum changed. It was then that the University established the Hamilton Kerr Institute at Whittlesford, near Cambridge, under the aegis of the Fitzwilliam, in response to recommendations in the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation’s report on training in the conservation of paintings published in 1972. The Institute was established by Herbert Lank, its first director, who has been followed by Norman Brommelle (1978-82), Ian Mclure (1983-2008) and Rupert Featherstone (from 2008). For details of the Institute’s foundation, see Sources below.

4. Restoration of works on paper, 1849-1914
Relatively less is known about the treatment of works on paper at the museum. The following history is indebted to Bryan Clarke’s pioneering study (see Sources below) and is supplemented by reference to the Syndicate minutes, reports and accounts. Clarke provides a good account of Lord Fitzwilliam’s albums and identifies three London bookbinders employed by Fitzwilliam in the late 18th and early 19th century: the Comte de Caumont, Charles Meyer and Henry Woodburn (qv), Samuel’s brother. He also identifies early methods for attaching prints into albums.

Reference has already been made to the rearrangement of parts of the print collection in 1824 under the auspices of Samuel Woodburn. In 1853, a few years after the opening of the new museum, it was reported to the Syndicate that the engravings in the collection were ‘arranged, with few exceptions, in folio blank books, and pasted by the corners in the usual manner’. Two years later, it was recorded that the curator of the library, Mr Massey, had completed the task of examining the engravings, carefully numbering the contents, and ‘repairing the mountings where necessary’ (Minutes, 18 May 1853, 23 October 1855). John Massey (1796-1875), formerly curator of the Mesman Museum, was a long-serving officer of the museum. The practice of pasting some prints into albums appears to have continued until the early 20th century, with a Cambridge firm, James Simpson Wilson, later Wilson & Son, supplying albums in the 1890s and subsequently (Elenor Ling, ‘Vansittart’s Print Collection and two unrecorded etchings by Albert Flamen’, Print Quarterly, vol.29, 2012, pp.168-9).

In 1875, however, the Syndicate decided to have various prints in albums ‘properly mounted on separate sunk mounts’ (Minutes, 13 February 1875). They announced in their annual report that some of the most valuable prints were being remounted, ‘according to the system practised in the Print-Room at the British Museum under the superintendence of Mr G.W. Reid, Keeper of that department’. This decision predated Colvin’s appointment as the Fitzwilliam’s director in 1876.

In this programme, attention focused initially on the prints of Martin Schöngauer, Israel van Meckenem and Lucas van Leyden, with selected examples by Dürer, Marcantonio and Rembrandt, and subsequently on further Dürer prints and those of the so-called Little Masters (Minutes, 13 February 1876). The Syndicate was able to report in June 1877 that the task of remounting and setting in order the early German and Netherlandish prints had been completed, with the collection being housed in thirty solander cases. Work continued on Rembrandt’s etchings in 1878 and then on old master drawings from the VanSittart and Kerrich collections (Reports, 25 May 1878, 4 June 1879). This was carried out by Miss Florence Reid, but there is no evidence to suggest that she was a relation of G.W. Reid (see above). She was paid very considerable sums: £134 for mounting engravings as well as drawings of the pavement of Siena Cathedral by Leopoldo Maccari in financial year 1874/5, £350 for mounting engravings in 1875/6, £291 in 1876/7, £361 in 1877/8, £277 for mounting etchings and for solander cases in 1878/9 and £56 for ‘mounting pictures’ in 1879/80.

Subsequently, the pace of mounting work slowed with some work being carried out locally by the stationer, framemaker and mounter, Joseph Hardwick, later Gilbert Hardwick, of the Fitzwilliam Stores, 38 Trumpington, 1894-1910, and other mounting and framing work by another local business, that of ‘J. Smith’, 1911-4 (Boxes 213- 215, Ledger stock no.960692). In 1902 it was announced that mounting the mezzotint collection had been completed (Report, February 1903).

5. Restoration of works on paper, from 1914
In mounting works on paper, a determined effort was made after the First World War, commencing in 1922, to address ‘the serious arrears for lack of funds in the last seven years’, with financial support from Thomas Henry Riches, one of the Syndics of the museum. Ninety-two drawings were mounted in the first year of this programme, with engravings being tackled from 1926 (Minutes, 28 November 1922, 23 October 1923, 21 January 1926). A limited amount of print mounting was carried out by Colnaghi & Co in 1924 (Accounts, 1924). Very occasionally, specific works are mentioned. A Cozens landscape was cleaned by Agnew & Sons in 1917 (Accounts, 28 September 1917). The five volumes of drawings by John Downman acquired in 1936 were to be disassembled and mounted, ‘just as they stood, with a hinged, sunk mount above them’, work which was sent to Miss Alice Holland (qv) in London (Minutes, 12 November 1936).

There is little mention in the Fitzwilliam’s annual reports of treating works on paper following the Second World War until 1960 when prints and drawings were sent to London for repair and remounting. The following year Miss Doreen Lewisohn (qv, 1916-2000) is recorded as mounting a large number of drawings, mainly from the Clarke bequest and she continued to undertake much mounting and repair work on drawings until her retirement in 1981. Some engravings were treated by F.B. Daniell & Son, London, 1963-4, and drawings by George Harrap, 1968-72. Numerous drawings were remounted, 1968-74, by L.J. Bone, a long-standing senior technician at the Museum.

Various works were treated externally, according to the Fitzwilliam’s annual reports. At the British Museum, a double-sided Raphael drawing was conserved in 1965, others were treated by Eric Harding in 1969, eight drawings by Rossetti were cleaned and restored there for an exhibition in 1972, and an Agostino Carracci drawing was cleaned and restored by Harding in 1974. At the Victoria and Albert Museum, various miniatures were treated including twenty-six from the Clarke bequest in 1961, two by Hoskins for an exhibition treated by Jim Murrell, 1972, and a technical investigation of the entire collection was carried out by Murrell in 1977. Later, beginning in 1988, Murrell undertook conservation of the collection without charge.

In 1975 a paper conservation studio was established at the Museum under the auspices of the agency, AMSSEE (Area Museums Service for South-East England), initially with Doreen Lewisohn in charge; there were many subsequent staffing changes before the agency was disbanded in 1994 and the service privatised and relocated. The Fitzwilliam set up its own print conservation studio to the design of Bryan Clarke, formerly of the National Maritime Museum, who was appointed print conservator in 1991.

6. Restoration of sculpture etc
For treatment of sculpture and other objects the museum turned to certain specialist suppliers in London but also locally. For occasional cleaning and repair of plaster casts of sculpture from 1849/50 until 1877, to the leading London plaster figure maker, Domenico Brucciani (see British bronze sculpture founders and plaster figure makers on this website), and from 1866 for simpler work to the locally-based figure maker, Alessandro Ramingo (c.1815-1893). For treatment of oxidisation of coins in 1878 to Robert Ready at the British Museum and for repair of a statuette in 1891 to Ready or one of his sons. For ceramic repairs in 1896 to Herbert Sharp in Dulwich. For repair of a Cooper miniature in 1900 to Frank Nowlan (qv). For the above, see Accounts 1849/50, Minutes, 21 April 1877, 27 March 1878, cheque stub and invoice in box 213, Management Syndicate minutes for 1 May 1900; see also CUL, University Archives, Syn.Ac.2.

Little sculpture conservation seems to have been recorded in the first half of the 20th century, excepting Roubiliac’s terracotta bust of the Earl of Pembroke which was sent to the Victoria and Albert Museum to have the ‘disfiguring paint’ removed at a cost of 5gs in 1938 (‘Minutes’, 21 April 1938), rather as the National Portrait Gallery had had its terracottas stripped a few years previously.

Sources: Fitzwilliam Museum records are divided between the University Archives at Cambridge University Library (CUL) and the Fitzwilliam Museum Library (FML). Registry files: four volumes of correspondence, reports, plans etc, of which the first and second are most useful (CUL, CUR.30.1-4). Fitzwilliam Syndicate Minutes: early minutes, from 1816, together with those of other syndicates (CUL, Min.VI.I, especially section 3, p.49, section 4, pp.44-5, with index Min.VI.I*); management syndicate minutes, 1849 onwards (FML); Fitzwilliam Syndicate Reports; Fitzwilliam Syndicate Accounts: building accounts, 1834-74 (CUL, Syn.Ac.1); management accounts, 1849-55 (FML, appended to Syndicate Minutes); management accounts, 1854-83 (CUL, Syn.Ac.2); management accounts, 1884-87, 1899-1937 (FML, ledger 960692).

For the Hamilton Kerr Institute, see John Cornforth, ‘Training Picture Conservators’, Country Life, vol.163, 26 January 1978, pp. 204-5; Herbert Lank, ‘The Hamilton Kerr Institute: Converted Premises for the Training of Painting Conservators’, International Journal of Museum Management and Curatorship, 1983, pp. 71-78; Michael Jaffé, Ian McClure and Herbert Lank, in The Bulletin of the Hamilton Kerr Institute, no.1, 1988.

See also Bryan Clarke, ‘A study of traditional and contemporary techniques for mounting and assembling prints at the Fitzwilliam Museum', in Nancy Bell (ed.), Historic Framing and Presentation of Watercolours, Drawings and Prints, 1997, pp.32-42.

Added January 2017
Josiah Foisseau (d.1789). Limner and picture restorer.

Little is known about Josiah Foisseau. He may be the man of this name involved in a family lawsuit with James Foisseau, silversmith of St Paul Covent Garden, over a will in 1755 (National Archives, C 11/597/33). In any case, Josiah Foisseau the elder was described as a limner of Chapel St, St Pancras in his will dated 17 November 1788 and proved 15 January 1789 (PCC wills). Josiah Foisseau married Mary Wells in 1765 at St Botolph Bishopsgate, who appears to have died in Westminster, 1776 (IGI), and secondly Isabella, who is remembered in his will, together with his son Joseph and daughter Hannah, wife of William Maleau.

In 1774 J. Foisseau cleaned two pictures for 5 guineas for the Painter-Stainers’ Company, and further, two years later Foisseau and John Terry (qv) of Little Queen St, Lincoln’s Inn Fields, approached the Barber Surgeons’ Company concerning cleaning Hans Holbein large group on panel, Henry VIII presenting the Company Charter, together with other pictures, according to Henry Farrer’s testimony to the National Gallery Site Commission in 1857 (National Gallery Site Commission, p.152).

*Foundling Hospital, London, established 1739, Foundling Museum, 40 Brunswick Square, London, established 2004.

The Foundling Hospital was established in 1739 as a result of campaigning by Captain Thomas Coram for an institution to care for foundlings. It soon began to attract gifts from artists, not least from William Hogarth, who was chosen as a founding governor. It became a place for the display of works by living artists. The strength of its collection lies in its 18th-century holdings. In 2004 the collection opened as the Foundling Museum with charitable status.

The collection’s conservation has been the subject of an excellent history by Catherine Nunn, published in 2009 (see Sources below), to which this account is indebted. Additional information derives from the Foundling Hospital’s well-preserved financial records, especially important as a source for the years before 1850 (London Metropolitan Archives, cited here as LMA).

Certain features emerge. Restoration work took place about once a generation, notably in the 1770s, 1800s, 1830s, from 1879, from 1904, from 1928 and after the Second World War. At least in its early years the Hospital seems to have relied on advice from artists, requesting Joshua Reynolds to advise in 1774 and asking Benjamin West to supervise restoration work in the early 1800s (Nunn 2009 pp. 237-8). The positioning of the pictures in the girls’ and boys’ dining rooms, judging from early views, made them vulnerable to damage. It is possible to identify when some of the pictures first needed lining and that this was within two or three generations of their being painted. Only with Buttery and Dyer did the Hospital select leading restorers, and it seems that the Hospital generally chose to go to lesser-known and perhaps less expensive London restorers: Terry in the 18th century, Ashby and Tayler in the first half of the 19th century, and Uppard and Hornfleck in the early 20th century.

The 18th century: The earliest information on the care of the collection comes in a committee resolution in 1746 that ‘all the pictures which are or shall be put up in this hospital for the preservation thereof be lined with boards’ (Nunn 2009 p.237), a measure which was not unusual in institutions at the time.

In 1767 the Hospital’s treasurer was given orders ‘for having the Pictures in this Hospital repaired’, although it is not clear whether action was taken before 1774. The Hospital’s committee then resolved to give John Terry the work of treating various pictures, which can be identified from his bill of 29 August 1774 for £11.11s for repairing and cleaning eight full-length portraits and their frames. Terry may perhaps be identifiable with John Terry (b. c.1746), who studied as a painter, aged 24, at the Royal Academy Schools in 1770 (Hutchison 1962 p.135). He treated many of the well-known series of full-lengths now in the Picture Gallery at the Foundling Museum, including William Hogarth’s Captain Coram, Thomas Hudson’s Theodore Jacobsen, Allan Ramsay’s Dr Richard Mead and Joshua Reynolds’s Earl of Dartmouth, charging 10s.6d a picture, perhaps for surface cleaning, and £5.5s for Dartmouth and £2.2s for Benjamin Wilson’s half-length Francis Fauquier, perhaps involving lining or repairs (LMA, A/FH/B/03/031/010). Most of these picture were hung in the Girl’s Dining Room and would appear to have been vulnerable to damage from their positioning, judging from John Sander’s watercolour view of the room in 1773 (repr. Nunn 2009 p.0000). Joshua Reynolds was asked to examine the pictures in the Dining Room in August 1774, perhaps to supervise or approve Terry’s work and he was nominated as a steward in 1782 (Nunn 2009 p.237).

The early 19th century: Benjamin West’s Christ presenting a Little Child was given to the Hospital in 1801, when it was identified that it was showing signs of cracking as a result of ‘an improper application of Varnish’ (Nunn 2009 p.238). West retouched the work, a process he had to repeat in 1816. He was appointed a governor of the hospital and provided advice on the condition of paintings in the collection.

While West was asked to supervise work on the collection, it is not clear whether he was responsible for selecting ‘Ashby’ to restore the paintings. ‘H. Ashby’, very probably the portrait painter, Harry Ashby (qv, 1778-1847), provided an estimate for £92.8s on 2 June 1807 for ‘Restoring & putting into perfect condition’ most of the pictures then in the collection (LMA, A/FH/A/06/001/065/001), as follows. In the Girls’ Dining Room, seven of the full lengths treated by Terry only a generation earlier, including lining three of the portraits, Benjamin Wilson’s Francis Fauquier at an expensive £10.10s and Hudson’s Theodore Jacobsen and Wilson’s Lord Macclesfield, both at £5.5s. In the Boy’s Dining Room, Andrea Casali’s altarpiece, the two large sea pieces (by Charles Brooking and Peter Monamy) for the considerable sum of £21 (implying lining work), and Joseph Highmore’s Thomas Emerson. In the Court Room the four large ‘Scripture Subjects’ and the eight circular landscapes for a total of £11.11s, suggesting straightforward work. In the Small Committee Room, Hogarth’s March to Finchley, a ship view and landscape and the so-called Lanfranco Raising the Widow’s Son, the latter to be lined. The great bulk of this work must have been carried out since Ashby was paid £91.7s in May 1808 (LMA, A/FH/B/03/026/003). In 1809 Ashby was appointed Inspector of the Pictures at the Hospital at his own request (Nunn 2009 p.240).

A generation later Lewis Tayler (qv, c.1793-1867) was employed by the Hospital to clean pictures and regild frames, 1832-44, receiving the considerable sum of £81.6s in 1832 and further payments in 1833, 1834, 1839 and 1844 (LMA, A/FH/B/01/014/004, A/FH/B/03/031/044). He cleaned and lined the four large religious paintings and the eight landscape roundels in the Court Room in 1832, including Hogarth's Moses brought before Pharaoh's Daughter and Highmore's Hagar and Ishmael, both of which he inscribed on the reverse, that on the latter reading: 'Lewis Taylor/ 32 Little Bell Ally/ Cleaned & Lined/ this Paintg/ 1832' (Nunn 2009 pp.240-1). This followed on work earlier in the year cleaning two large shipping pieces and painting and graining their frames, presumably the works by Brooking and Monamy. He was paid £13.13s in 1833 for cleaning Hogarth’s March to Finchley, £12.12s in 1834 for cleaning Hogarth’s Captain Coram and regilding the frame, and £7.7s in 1839 for cleaning Casali’s Adoration of the Magi. In 1844 he cleaned and lined George Lambert's Landscape with Figures for £4 (LMA, A/FH/B/01/014/005, Nunn 2009 p.241).

In about 1840 the National Gallery borrowed from the Hospital a large cartoon attributed to Raphael. To display it, the cartoon had to be glazed. There were limitations to the size of glass readily available at the time and, after considerable thought, it was decided to protect the cartoon with two sheets of glass, separated by a glazing bar two thirds of the way up, an arrangement which was still intact in 2001 (National Gallery Archive, NG 5/48/1842 etc). The work appears to have been carried out by John Seguier (qv), who was paid £22.1s in 1842 for restoring the Cartoon, etc (National Gallery Archive, NG13/1/1, Cash Book 1840-55).

Some restoration work was paid for privately, e.g. Wilson’s Francis Fauquier, restored by Terry in 1774 and Ashby in 1807, was to be treated yet again in 1850, this time at the expense of the Hospital’s treasurer and therefore is unlikely to the detailed in the Foundling accounts (see Benedict Nicolson,The Treasures of the Foundling Hospital, 1972, p.81).

The late 19th century: It was the leading restorer, Horace Buttery (qv, 1846-1900), who undertook work in the next restoration campaign, from 1879. That year he produced a report on the collection and over the next three years he cleaned and restored several pictures, including Highmore's Hagar and Ishmael and Hayman’s Finding of Moses (the latter inscribed ‘Mr Buttery’ on the stretcher), both of which had previously been treated by Ashby and Tayler (Nunn 2009 pp.241-2). In 1882 Buttery’s estimate for glazing Hogarth’s March to Finchley was accepted and he was requested to restore several other works. He undertook further work in 1888 and provided a report recommending further glazing of pictures in 1898 (Nunn 2009 p.243 note 52). In the late 19th century glazing formed one of the few ways of protecting collections from the London atmosphere. The dealer, Thomas Agnew, was consulted about glazing and framing pictures in 1888 and the framemaker, Mr Uppard, presumably Edwin Uppard (1857-1934), provided estimates (Nunn 2009 p.243). For Agnew and Uppard, see British picture framemakers on this website.

The 20th century: Henry Alexis Hornfeck (qv, 1860-1940) restored paintings in partnership with Uppard from c.1904 and was still in contact with the Hospital in 1920 (Nunn 2009 pp.243-4). In May 1905 ‘Hornfleck’ was paid £20.3s for restoring two pictures and later in the year Uppard, not generally known as a restorer, received £120.9s for treating pictures (LMA, A/FH/B/01/014/012). Further payments were made in 1906 to Uppard & Hornfleck (£50, reduced from the £70 they had requested) and to Hornfleck (£20.3s.6d), in 1907 to Hornfleck (£57.14s.8d), in 1911 to Hornfleck (£42.2s) and Uppard (£36.18s.6d), and in 1918 to Uppard for a report on the pictures following wartime storage (10s.6d) (LMA, A/FH/B/01/014/013-015). It is clear that the Hospital was not wholly satisfied with their work, finding them dilatory in their approach (Nunn 2009 pp.243-5).

In the next generation, an altogether better-known business, William Dyer & Sons (qv), was employed to clean various pictures and undertake other minor work between 1928 and 1937, receiving more than £427 in this ten-year period (LMA, A/FH/B/03/028/002-003). Details of the pictures he treated have not been found but his work may have been prompted by changes at the Hospital, which sold its London estate in 1926, relocating to Berkhamsted, while retaining a presence in Brunswick Square, where the Court Room was reconstructed in 1937.

After the Second World War, J.H. Cooke (qv, 1877-1958) of J.H. Cooke & Sons, would appear to have treated Hogarth's March to Finchley in 1946; the stretcher is inscribed 'RJ Banly JH Cooke 1946' (Nunn 2009 p.245, quoting information from Rica Jones); no payment for this work has been traced. James Bourlet, best known as picture framers and packers, treated several pictures at the Foundling Hospital in 1946 and 1953 (Nunn 2009 pp.245-6). For Bourlet, see British picture framemakers on this website.

The years after 1950 are not the main focus of this history but in summary a number of condition surveys were carried out, sometimes leading to remedial treatment: by the National Maritime Museum in 1973-4, the Area Museums Service in 1978-9 and the Tate Gallery in 1985 (Nunn 2009 p.246). More recently many paintings were treated for the opening of the Foundling Museum in 2004.

For information on the framing of picture at the Hospital, see Picture frames at the Foundling Museum on this website.

Sources: Catherine Nunn, 'The Conservation History of an Eighteenth-century Collection: caring for the pictures of the Foundling Hospital', Journal of the Institute of Conservation, vol.32, 2009, pp.233-47. Foundling Hospital papers at the London Metropolitan Archives: volumes entitled Household Expenses or General Expenses, A/FH/B/03/026/003 p.261, A/FH/B/01/014/004 pp.200-2, 207, 221, 309, A/FH/B/01/014/005 p.217, A/FH/B/01/014/012 pp.139-40, A/FH/B/01/014/013 p.125, A/FH/B/01/014/014 p.250, A/FH/B/01/014/015 p.239; Bought Ledgers, A/FH/B/03/028/002 p.119, A/FH/B/03/028/003, p.110; vouchers for 1832 Miscellaneous, A/FH/B/03/031/044.

Bernard Freeman, 6 Bolton Road, St John’s Wood, London NW 1898-1912. Art dealer, restorer of paintings, drawings and engravings, carver and gilder, framemaker.

Bernard Freeman (1855-1915) was the son of William Philip Barnes Freeman (1813-97), the Norwich carver, gilder and artist (see British picture framemakers on this website). He was born in Norwich in 1855. In census records, he was listed in 1871 at the age of 15 with his father and family in King St, Norwich, and in subsequent censuses in London, in 1881 at 7 Westbourne Terrace, Paddington as a dealer in works of art, in 1891 at 31 Dorchester Place, Marylebone as a picture restorer and dealer in works of art, in 1901 at 6 Bolton Road as a carver and gilder, with a son, Frederick B. Freeman, age 17, and in 1911 at the same address as a picture restorer trading on his own account at home. He died at the age of 59 in 1915 in Brondesbury, leaving effects worth only £97, with probate granted to his widow, Rachel Amelia.

He advertised as a ‘Practical Restorer of Paintings, Drawings, Engravings, &c’, also as a carver, gilder and framemaker, claiming that he had been many years with J. Hogarth & Sons (see British picture framemakers), a business which closed in 1890, and offering to clean and repair old coloured prints as a speciality (The Year’s Art 1898, advertisement, p.25).

Clifford Freeman (1911-1987?), see William Freeman & Son

Harry Freeman 1912-1923, H. Freeman & Sons 1924-1944. At 163 & 165 Fulham Road, London 1912-1913, 42a Gloucester Road 1914, 3 Rose and Crown Yard, St James’s 1915-1918, 10 Rose and Crown Yard 1919-1944, 42 Grosvenor Mews, W1 1946-1947. Picture restorers.

Harry Freeman (b.1871), the son of a music engraver, Abraham Freeman, and his wife, Ellen, was recorded in census records living at home at 3 Noel St, Soho in 1881 and 1891. His father was born in Marylebone and there does not seem to be a connection with the Freemans of Norwich. In the 1881 census, Harry Freeman was recorded as born in Long Acre, and in 1891 in Bow St, by which time his father was dead and he was working as a picture restorer, living at home with his mother and seven younger brothers and sisters. By 1901 he was listed in Hammersmith, as a picture restorer, age 30, born in the Strand, with his wife Louisa, age 27, and son William, age 6, born Marylebone, and in 1911 in Ealing, as a picture restorer and dealer, with his son, William, by now an assistant in the business, and another son, Lionel G.H., age 9.

Harry Freeman set up in business independently in 1912, initially in the Fulham Road, trading as a ‘fine art restorer in all branches and picture dealer’.

In 1924 and 1928 the partners in the business were listed in the London directory as Harry Freeman and two of his sons, William Henry Claude Freeman (1894-1954) and Lionel George Howard Freeman (1902-74), in 1936 as William, Lionel and a third son, Clifford Edward Freeman (1911-87?), in 1942 as Lionel and Clifford and in 1943 and 1944 only as Lionel. William Freeman appears to have set up business as William Freeman & Son (qv) by 1939, later taking Clifford Freeman into partnership, while Lionel Freeman traded independently from 1946, initially at 42 Grosvenor Mews and then from 22 Maddox St until 1952.

Updated September 2018, December 2020
William Freeman & Son 1939-1951, William Freeman & Son Ltd 1952-1972. At 44 Duke St, St James’s, London 1939-1943, 1b King St, SW1 1944, 43-44 Albemarle St 1944-1972,. Picture restorers.

William Henry Claude Freeman (1894-1954), son of Harry Freeman (see above), married Jessie Daines in the Kensington district in 1913 and their son Gerald was born the following year. William Freeman traded initially with his father before setting up independently with his son in 1939. The business moved to Albemarle St in 1944 (Burlington Magazine, June 1944, advert). Freeman had other interests. In 1948 he withdrew from a partnership with his son and three others trading as Freeman Son & Partners, estate agents, and in 1951 his son also withdrew from the partnership (London Gazette 27 January 1948, 13 April 1951).

William Freeman was President of the Association of British Picture Restorers, founded in 1943 (Who’s Who in Art, 6th ed., 1952). He died in 1954, described as of 43/44 Albemarle St and St Helier, Jersey, leaving effects worth £4693, with probate granted to his son, Gerald Clifford Freeman, picture restorer, and Aubrey Chapman, accountant. It was his son, Gerald Clifford Freeman (1914-88), who carried on the business until 1972, in partnership with his uncle, Clifford E. Freeman (1911-87?). At the expiration of the business’s lease in 1972, the partnership split up, with Gerald Freeman working with two assistants, mainly for private clients, from his home, 19 Emlyn Road, Stamford Brook, W12 9TF, until at least 1973, and Clifford Freeman with part of the business’s staff at 6 Albemarle St (NPG14/1/13, letter from Gerald Freeman to Roy Strong, 31 January 1972; see also below).

William Freeman & Son Ltd held appointments as picture restorers to the late Queen Mary and to Queen Elizabeth II. For the Royal Collection, Freeman laid blisters in 1963, 1964 and 1975 on Rubens’s Farm at Laeken (McClure 1998 p.93). On occasion, the business worked in partnership with Horace Buttery (qv), treating blisters on Gainsborough’s whole-lengths of Queen Charlotte and George III in the Royal Collection in 1950 and assisting with various pictures in the Iveagh Bequest, Kenwood, in the 1950s. W. Freeman and Son Ltd cleaned and revarnished Raeburn's Sir George Sinclair in 1969 (Iveagh Bequest, Kenwood, see Bryant 2003 p.299).

W. Freeman cleaned and varnished Julius Caesar Ibbetson’s portrait of his wife, c.1940 (National Portrait Gallery, see Walker 1985 p.272). The business undertook relining and cleaning work for the National Portrait Gallery, 1967-73. By 1972, Clifford E. Freeman was trading independently, initially from 4 Albemarle St, and in 1974 from a temporary address, 27 Littleton Road, Harrow; he worked extensively for the National Portrait Gallery until 1981.

The business apparently kept a special preparation for picture dealers, marked DDFS (‘Dirty down for sale’).

William Philip Barnes Freeman (1813-97), Norwich. Carver and gilder, picture restorer.

See British picture framemakers on this website.

Added September 2018
Freeth Smith & Chard
1896-1899, Freeth Smith & Co 1899-1923 or later.At4 Wood St, Bath 1896-1919 or later, 5 Wood St 1923. Picture restorers, later antique dealers and picture dealers.

Freeth Smith & Chard advertised in March 1896 that they had succeeded in business to Edward Lyons Hill (qv), who traded for many years as a picture restorer and dealer at 4 Wood St, Bath (Bath Chronicle 12 March 1896). They stated that the restoration of pictures and the carving and gilding branch of the business were to be special features.

Their premises at 4 Wood St were completely gutted by fire in August 1898 (Bath Chronicle 18 August 1898). Perhaps as a result, the partnership between Frederick John Freeth Smith and Ernest Collins Chard, trading as Freeth Smith and Chard, carvers, gilders and picture dealers at 4 Wood St, was dissolved six months later (London Gazette 3 February 1899). The partnership articles, 1896, and the dissolution deed, 1899, are held by Bristol archives (4966/26-27). The business continued to advertise as Freeth Smith & Chard until 1901 and subsequently as Freeth Smith & Co. The business had a purchase account with C. Roberson & Co, 1896-1906 (Woodcock 1997).

Frederick John Freeth Smith (c.1869-1927) can be found in census records, in 1901 as Freeth Smith, artists colourman and picture dealer, in Clifton, Bristol, age 32, living with his father, Charles F. Smith, and mother, Mary, and in 1911 as Freeth Smith, antique dealer, at Box in Wiltshire, age 42, born Bristol, living with his father/mother. He died age 59 in December 1927, according to a notice concerning claims against his estate, describing him as a picture expert and restorer, late of 2 Romanvillas, Box, and 36 Bartonbuildings, Bath (London Gazette 17 February 1928). His effects at probate were worth £1391.

Ernest Collins Chard (1869-1929??) was born in Bristol in 1869. He was described as a pictorial artist, living in Clevedon, in the 1891 census. As an artist of 27 St Martin’s Lane, Cannon St, London, he patented an improvement in weighing machines in 1895, as recorded in a Tasmanian newspaper (The Mercury 18 January 1895). He is not found in English records after the breakup of his partnership with Frederick John Freeth Smith. He may perhaps be the man of this name, a farmer, who died in Australia in 1929.

Evidence as to the business’s activities can be found on a picture, stamped on the stretcher and canvas turnover: FREETH-SMITH & CH…../ (LATE HILL)/ PICTURE REST…...../ LINERS[?]..... (Private coll., March 2018).

Added August 2019
Roger Fry (1866-1934). Art historian, critic, painter and occasional picture restorer.

Roger Fry is known as an artist, for his association with the Omega Workshops and for his lecturing and writings on art. He narrowly missed becoming director of the National Gallery in 1906 and worked as a curator at the Metropolitan Museum in New York for a few years from 1906. The following account is indebted to Caroline Elam, Roger Fry and Italian Art, 2019, pp.104-6.

On occasion Roger Fry dabbled in picture restoration. In 1901 he told D.S. MacColl that he had become 'quite the little restorer' and was working on two huge altarpieces, one of which, from the Cook collection, then attributed to Ercole Grandi, was Garofalo's Annunciation (now Cini Foundation, Venice). He was also restoring paintings at the time for Robert Ross at the Carfax Gallery. In January 1903 he wrote that he had not quite completed his work on the Annunciation but refers to a ‘little picture’ that he had cleaned for Herbert Horne.

According to his friend, Augustus Daniel, he restored Lazzaro Bastiani’s Virgin and Child for the National Art Collections Fund before its acquisition by the National Gallery in 1905 (National Library of Scotland, Acc.9769, 97/42, Augustus Daniel, diary for 4, 22, 30 December 1931).

Fry became curator at the Metropolitan Museum in New York in 1906. He worked extensively on the collection there (Elam 2019, pp.105-6). He also worked on pictures in the J.G. Johnson collection, Philadelphia, c.1905-6, including treating Sano di Pietro’s Virgin and Child with four adoring angels in 1905, Giovanni Bellini’s Virgin and Child and the attributed to Jan van Eyck Stigmatization of St Francis (Elam 2019, p.105; Strehlke 2004, pp.13-14). At the Metropolitan Museum he treated 11 out of 42 paintings being hung in a special display in 1906 and was then vehemently attacked by one of the museum's trustees for his approach to restoration work. In fact, two of the paintings that he was accused of ruining had only been reframed and, in the subsequent enquiry, it was concluded that Fry's work had been done 'with great skill and knowledge and without any injury to the pictures' (Elam 2019, p.105).

Fry accepted the then fashionable view that wood panels crossing the Atlantic should be transferred to canvas in view of America's climate and over-heated buildings. He had several works transferred for the Metropolitan Museum, including the copy of the Master of Flémalle's Virgin of Salamanca, Cima da Conegliano's Sts Roch, Anthony Abbott and Lucy, and the Riminese Scenes from the Life of Christ (Elam 2019, p.106).

Fry resigned from the Metropolitan Museum late in 1907. Following his return to England Fry was commissioned in 1910 by Lionel Cust, Surveyor of the King's Pictures, to restore Andrea Mantegna's large The Picture Bearers, a painting from The Triumphs of Caesar series at Hampton Court. He worked on the picture intermittently for 11 years employing on occasion such amateurs in picture restoration as Dora Carrington and Paul Nash, later describing this commission as 'one of my maddest follies' (Elam 2019, p.321).

In 1916 Fry told Vanessa Bell that he had restored some old pictures for Osvald Sirén (Denys Sutton, Letters of Roger Fry, 1972, p.400).

Christopher & Septimus Furse 1850-1855, Septimus Spooner Furse 1855-1881, 4 Hanway St, Oxford St, London 1850-1860, 10 Hanway St 1861-1868, 15 Hanway St 1869-1881, carvers and gilders, also picture framemakers and picture restorers. Septimus Furse & Son 1882-1886, Furse & Co 1887-1896, 28 Sloane St 1882, 29 Red Lion Square 1883-1886, 28 Red Lion Square 1887-1896, art decorators and sole manufacturers of the permanent washable venetian silvering.

Septimus Spooner Furse (1826-91) was born in Walworth, Surrey, the son of Thomas and Margaret Furse. He married firstly Emma Pringle in 1852 at St Pancras Old Church, and secondly Sarah Lankester in 1862 also at St Pancras. He was recorded in censuses, in 1861 at 50 Albert St, Regents Park, as a carver and gilder, age 35, born Walworth, employing two men and two boys, with wife Emma, in 1881 at 2 Camden Cottages, as a decorator, age 55, with wife Sarah, and sons Alfred, age 24, and Henry, age 18, both decorator assistants, and in 1891 in Hampstead, age given as 66, by now retired. Septimus Furse died age 65 in December 1891 in the Hampstead district, leaving effects worth £447 with probate granted to Alfred Christian Furse, decorator.

Septimus Furse claimed to have been established in business as early as 1846 (see below). He traded initially as a carver and gilder with Christopher Furse (b.1821), probably his brother (who can be found in the 1851 census as a gilder, age 32, lodging at 96 Whitechapel High St). However, from 1857 Septimus traded independently, not only as a carver and gilder but also as a picture frame and looking glass manufacturer, inventor and sole manufacturer of the enamelled washable gilding, wholesale, retail and for exportation.

Septimus Furse advertised in the 1860s from 10 Hanway St as a cleaner, liner and restorer of ancient and modern paintings (British Museum, trade sheet housed with Banks coll., 96.2), claiming to have been established as a gilder, decorator and picture framemaker since 1846. Furse promoted his discovery of a safer process for cleaning and restoring oil paintings. On the reverse, he advertised as the ‘inventor and sole manufacturer of the enamelled washable gilding and pure unoxidising silvering, for looking glass and picture frames, mirrors, window cornices and gilt furniture of every description’.

By the late 19th century, as Septimus Furse & Son, and then as Furse & Co, the business was advertising as art decorators and sole manufacturers of the venetian silvering.

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

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