British picture restorers, 1600-1950 - L
An online resource, launched in 2009, selectively updated twice yearly. Last updated March 2019. Contributions are welcome, to Jacob Simon at [email protected].
Jerome Lanier (d.1657), son of Nicholas Lanier the Elder, was appointed in 1599 as a Musician in Ordinary to Queen Elizabeth I on woodwinds and sackbut, a post he held until 1643. He lived in Greenwich. John Evelyn, in his diary in 1652 noted ‘Old Jerome Lennier’ as formerly in the household of Queen Elizabeth I, describing him as a man ‘greatly skill’d in Painting and Musique’ (E.S. De Beer, The Diary of John Evelyn, 1955, vol.3, pp.74-5).
Jerome Lanier married twice, firstly in 1610 to Phrisdewith or Friswith Grafton (d.1625), daughter of William Grafton, and secondly in 1627 to Elizabeth Willeford. His children from his first marriage apparently included the musician, William (b.1618), and from his second marriage, three sons, Endymion (c.1628-83), Jerome (b. c.1631) and Arundel (1633-4), and six daughters. Jerome Lanier died in 1657. In his will, made 11 August and proved 15 December 1657, he mentioned his ‘poor little estate’, most of which had been lost in the Civil War.
Jerome Lanier worked on the Gonzaga pictures from Mantua, apparently damaged by a spillage of mercury during their transport to England; he tried cleaning them with spit, then with a warm milk mixture and finally with aqua vita, according to Richard Symonds’s account of a conversation which took place in 1644 (Vertue vol.1, p.112). When Charles I’s collection was dispersed, Lanier purchased several paintings that had been acquired for the king by his nephew Nicholas Lanier, in order to safeguard them. John Evelyn recorded in his diary (see above) seeing Jerome Lanier's ‘rare Collection of Pictures’ at Greenwich, noting that some pictures ‘surely had been the Kings’. In April 1657, shortly before his death, he sold three pictures, including a Correggio, to the Earl of Northumberland for £120 (Wood 1994 p.312).
Sources: Lionel Cust, ‘Lanier’, Miscellanea Genealogica et Heraldica, 5th ser., vol.6, 1926-8, pp.375-83. For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.
Added January 2017
Arthur Pillans Laurie (1861-1949). Chemist, Principal of Heriot-Watt College, Edinburgh, 1900-1928, Professor of chemistry to the Royal Academy of Arts from 1912.
The Scottish chemist, Arthur Pillans Laurie, promoted the use of science in examining and treating paintings. It is this aspect of his varied career which is examined here.
In his autobiography, Laurie attributed his interest in old methods of painting pictures and illuminated manuscripts to William Holman Hunt (Pictures and Politics. A Book of Reminiscences, 1934, p.98). He entered into correspondence with George Frederic Watts, 1890-3 on his experiments with artists’ colours, stating in 1890 that he had come to the conclusion that he could 'best serve the artists' by arranging for the preparation and sale of each pigment which he regarded as safe as soon as his experiments were completed (National Portrait Gallery archive, GFW/1/8/62).
Laurie published his research, ‘On the Durability of Pictures Painted with Oils and Varnishes’ in the Journal of the Society of Arts in 1891 (vol.39, pp.392-4). His research led to ‘the preparation for artists of a reliable list of permanent pigments, and oils and varnishes prepared according to mediaeval recipes’, according to his autobiography, and to the foundation of Madderton & Co, makers of Cambridge Colours, in 1890 (Pictures and Politics. A Book of Reminiscences, 1934, pp. 98, 102). For Madderton, see British artists' suppliers on this website.
Laurie had a longstanding and somewhat uncertain relationship with the National Gallery. In 1914 when Ayerst Buttery (qv) repaired Velazquez’s Rokeby Venus, Laurie undertook a microscopic and chemical examination of the injuries to the picture but the Gallery’s board of trustees ‘did not think publication of his notes desirable’ (National Gallery archive, NG1/8, pp.190-1), perhaps in reaction to past controversies over cleaning but nevertheless regrettable given Laurie’s influential position. A later director at the National Gallery, Sir Charles Holmes, sought his advice on microphotographs (1925), the use of aluminium paint (1926) and methods of restoring cracked and blistered pictures (1928) (National Portrait Gallery archive, NPG9/1/1/9-12). Laurie was part of the Royal Academy delegation in 1926 which met with National Gallery trustees to discuss the repair of pictures. He suggested that an advisory committee could assist the Gallery and protect it from external criticism and he argued for complete frankness about materials and their conditions of use, expressing a willingness to analyse solvents used in cleaning (National Gallery archive, NG1/9, 9 February 1926).
In Augustus Daniel’s directorship, Laurie suggested that the National Gallery should set up its own scientific laboratory with complete scientific equipment and staff (‘A Suggestion for the National Gallery’, letter to The Times, 9 September 1930). He later expressed surprise at their dismissal of his proposal, claiming that ‘systematic research is bound to replace empiricism and intuitionism, and the day will come when people will be astonished to learn that the Trustees of the National Gallery... refused a proposal that a laboratory be added to the resources of that institution.’ (A.P. Laurie, Pictures and Politics. A Book of Reminiscences, 1934, pp.104-5). The National Gallery did, however, set up a laboratory in the mid-1930s. But by then Laurie had set up his own private laboratory for the scientific examination of pictures and illuminated manuscripts and he offered his services to the National Gallery as radiological adviser and to the Tate Gallery in 1931 (NG1/11, p.27; Tate Gallery archive TG 18/1/1/8/6, letter, 18 June 1931). Laurie’s laboratory and that at the Louvre featured in the French periodical, Mouseion, the following year (Mouseion, vol.17-18, 1932, pp.119-22, accessed through Gallica).
Laurie provided advice to the Victoria and Albert Museum on a particular technical treatment problem in 1921 (Victoria and Albert Museum archive, ED 84/138, item 3235).
Laurie was a pioneer in the use of chemical analysis and infra-red photography in the study of old master paintings. His publications include Facts About Processes, Pigments, and Vehicles: A Manual for Art Students (1895), The Materials of the Painter's Craft in Europe and Egypt, from the Earliest Times to the End of the XVIIth Century (1910), The Pigments and Mediums of the Old Masters (1914) and The Painter's Methods and Materials (1926).
Sources: Arthur Pillans Laurie, Pictures and Politics. A Book of Reminiscences, 1934; F.I.G. rawlins, ‘Obituary notices: Arthur Pillans Laurie, 1861–1949’, Journal of the Chemical Society, 1950, pp.429-30.
Updated March 2018
John Lee (1883-1962). Technical assistant at Tate Gallery.
John Lee or, to give him his full name, Uriah John Lee, was born in Walworth, London. He was recorded as a gilder, age 17, in the 1901 census and as a picture frame gilder and worker in the 1911 census, living in Greenwich with his wife Alice and child. He served in the First World War as a sergeant before joining the staff of the Tate Gallery as an attendant. He was promoted to technical assistant by the Tate’s then director, Charles Aitken, apparently in 1928 (London Gazette 4 May 1928). A later director, Sir John Rothenstein, praised Lee as ‘a man with boundless devotion to the Gallery and of extraordinary versatility… he could restore and hang paintings, make frames, design and make… cases for the removal of paintings in the event of war and much besides’ (John Rothenstein, Brave day, hideous night: autobiography, 1939-1965, 1966, pp.5-6). Lee retired in 1947 and was awarded the British Empire Medal (London Gazette, supplement, 12 June 1947). An interview with Lee’s grand-daughter, illustrated with correspondence and photographs, can be heard at http://vimeo.com/17380809 (accessed December 2013).
Restoration and framing work: Already by 1919 Lee was playing an active part in in the care of the Tate collection. He received a payment of £20 in 1920 for repairing and gilding frames, a large enough sum to suggest extensive work, and from 1925 did lettering for picture labels (National Gallery archive, NG13/2/6, 6 July 1919, 27 March 1920, 28 February 1925, etc).
During the Tate collection’s evacuation in World War Two, Lee surface cleaned and polished Joshua Reynolds’ equestrian portrait, Lord Ligonier (see Lord Ligonier by Sir Joshua Reynolds). He received some instruction in picture restoration work from Helmut Ruhemann (qv), as arranged by John Rothenstein (John Rothenstein, Time’s Thievish Progress, 1970, p.148). In turn he gave some initial training in restoration to Rothenstein’s school-age daughter, Lucy, who then trained professionally and entered into partnership as a picture restorer with Lord Dunluce (Time’s Thievish Progress, p.164). Lee continued to undertake picture restoration as well as framing for the Tate until the early 1950s, including cleaning various works by Turner in 1947 and 1948, namely Richmond Hill for £25, Riva degli Schiavone for £11 (including relining) and Sun setting over a Lake for £15 (including strip-lining), also cleaning B.R. Haydon’s Chairing the Member for £15 (Tate archive, TG 18/1/1/4, pictures nos 502, 4661, 4665, 5644). He was providing advice as late as 1951 (TG 18/1/1/1) and continued to receive significant payments, mainly for conservation and restoration, totalling almost £510 in 1952 and £400 in 1953 (National Gallery archive, NG13/1/14-15).
Francis Leedham (1794-1870) was the leading picture liner of his day. As early as 1838, he was described as 'that ingenious artist Mr Francis Leedham' in Christie's sale catalogue of the Northwick collection (see below). In 1847, in discussing wood panels, Charles Eastlake singled out Leedham, 'whose skill in lining pictures, and in transferring them from wood to cloth, is well known and appreciated' (Charles Lock Eastlake, Materials for a History of Oil Painting, 1847, p.416).
Francis Leedham has been the subject of study by Lorne Campbell, to whom this account is indebted. The son of Francis Leedham and Dorothy Miller, he was born at Tutbury, Staffordshire, and baptised there 18 August 1794. He was recorded in the 1851 census at Duck Lane with his wife Annie, 49, born Montgomeryshire. By 1858 his business at 3 Duck Lane had been taken over by George Morrill (qv), whom Charles Eastlake called 'Leedham's successor' in a letter to Ralph Wornum of 5 January 1859 and who evidently knew Leedham well enough to make him one of the executors of his will. Leedham retired to Portsea, Hampshire, where he appears to have remarried in 1865 to Mary Earwaker. He died there on 30 September 1870; his will was proved 20 January 1871 by his widow Mary, with effects under £100.
‘Leedham picture liner’ at 83 Berwick St was listed in an insurance policy taken out by William Jackson and James Pinbury Wilkinson on 11 October 1832 (London Metropolitan Archives, Sun Fire Office policy registers, 538/1143975). Leedham’s business appears to have been relatively modest from the insurance values, amounting to £40 for stock and utensils and £15 for a chest of carpenter’s tools; the policy specified ‘no… stove within’ and also included musical instruments, separately insured for £21, but it is not clear whether everything on the premises belonged to Leedham. In 1839, as a picture liner and framemaker, he took out insurance on 3 Duck Lane; the policy refers to ‘A stove standing in hearth in picture lining room’ (573/1311962).
Restoration work: Like many picture liners, Leedham’s work is not well documented, other than by his use of his impressed stamp on the stretchers of the pictures he relined. This stamp, in italics, generally took the form, F. Leedham/ Liner, or sometimes Leedham/ Liner or F. Leedham.
Leedham was evidently used and appreciated by Lord Northwick, whose collecting activities have been the subject of detailed study (Oliver Bradbury and Nicholas Penny, 'The picture collecting of Lord Northwick’, Burlington Magazine, vol.144, 2002, pp.485-96, 606-17). Unusually, Leedham was singled out in the sale catalogue of part of the Northwick collection in 1838 (Christie & Manson, A Catalogue of the… Gallery of Pictures... of the Right Hon. Lord Northwick; removed from Connaught Place, 24-26 May 1838, lots 54, 73, 109). His work was said to have 'perpetuated very many valuable paintings in this collection'. It included the transfer from panel to canvas of the so-called Giorgione Musical Party and of Daniele da Volterra’s Deposition from the Cross, and the relining of a Bronzino fresco.
Leedham worked for the National Gallery, 1855-7. In December 1856, he was paid £45 for lining three pictures, including Andrea Mantegna’s Virgin and Child with Saints and Federico Barocci’s Madonna del Gatto, and for other work (National Gallery Archive, NG13/1/3, Cash Book 1855-66). In February 1857, the Gallery’s Trustees resolved that Leedham should have Turner’s paintings to line, one at a time, work which would be better done on his own premises, and by September he had lined 15 of them at a cost of £124.14s (National Gallery Archive, NG5/215/1-2, NG13/1/3). For Charles Eastlake personally, Leedham prepared a cradle for Rogier van der Weyden’s Exhumation of St Hubert (National Gallery) in 1847 or later (Campbell 1998 p.407).
It would appear that Samuel Mawson (qv), Lord Hertford’s agent, sent various pictures to Leedham to be relined in the years to 1855. Paintings in the Wallace Collection lined by Leedham include London: Northumberland House after Canaletto, John Hoppner’s George IV as Prince of Wales, possibly lined in 1855, The Rape of Europa, after Titian, lined before 1857 and Murillo’s Joseph and his Brethren, lined 1854 (see Ingamells 1985 pp.250, 111, 366, 393). Leedham also cradled the panel of Govert Flinck’s A young Negro Archer (Ingamells 1992 p.120), lined Jacob van Ruisdael’s Landscape with a Village and Jan Weenix’s Dead Game and Springer Spaniel (Ingamells 1992 pp.342, 421) and lined Fragonard’s A Boy as Pierrot (Ingamells 1989 p.159).
Leedham cradled a large panel belonging to William Coningham, c.1840-9, Gerino da Pistoia’s Virgin and Child with Sts Lawrence, John the Baptist, Monica and Augustine (Courtauld institute, information from Pippa Balch, July 2014). Leedham worked for John Linnell on occasion, lining a Stothard in 1850 and another picture in 1856, as the artist’s account book shows (Fitzwilliam Museum, MS 23-2000).
Works with Leedham’s impressed stamp or otherwise marked are quite often found. Examples include: in the National Portrait Gallery, William Beechey’s Sarah Siddons and Edward Penny’s Richard Wilson (Ingamells 2004 pp.432, 490), and the Godfrey Kneller studio Thomas Betterton (John Ingamells, Later Stuart Portraits, 2010, p.26). At the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Mason Chamberlin’s Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Gainsborough’s A Pastoral Landscape (Richard Dorment, British Paintings in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1986, pp.44, 133). At Kenwood, Joshua Reynolds's Lady Louisa Manners (Bryant 2003 p.329). At Dulwich Picture Gallery, Andreas Soldi's L.F. Roubiliac (Ingamells 2008 p.186). At Pollok House, Glasgow, Murillo's Virgin and Child with St John (Stirling Maxwell collection, information from Dr Hilary Macartney, February 2009). At the Fitzwilliam Museum, Arthur Devis’s Francis Page, and two pictures from the A.A. VanSittart gift of 1876, Meindert Hobbema’s Landscape, and Jacob van Ruisdael’s Landscape with Waterfall.
For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.
John Leedham 1838-1865, Francis Leedham 1866-1871. At14 Shouldham St, Edgware Road, London 1838-1871. Picture liners.
John Leedham (1808-65), younger brother of Francis Leedham (qv), was baptised at Tutbury, Staffordshire on 5 June 1808. He traded initially as a carpenter. In the 1861 census, he was recorded with his wife Sarah, 51, and their unmarried daughter Jane, born Marylebone. John Leedham, carpenter and picture liner, died 28 April 1865, leaving effects under £200 (information from Lorne Campbell). He was followed by Francis Leedham, perhaps a son, who remains to be traced, rather than his brother who had retired to Portsea in 1857.
Mention should also be made of John Thomas Leedham (1822-80), who came from slightly further north. The son of Charles James and Mary Leedham, he was christened at Manchester Cathedral. He traded as an artists’ colourman and printseller at 2 Garden Row, Camberwell Road, 1850-5, and subsequently at 418 Kennington Road, 1870-80, as a carver and gilder, framemaker, looking glass manufacturer, printseller and artists’ stationer and colourman. Following his death, the business was continued by his wife, trading as Mrs J.T. Leedham & Son from 1881 and subsequently as Leedham & Co1886.
*Doreen Lewisohn (1916-2000). Paper conservator in private practice, working for the Fitzwilliam and Ashmolean museums, and elsewhere.
Outside the time frame of this online resource, but see obituary, Daily Telegraph 4 March 2000.
Added March 2015
Patrick Lindsay (1933-2012). Picture restorer.
Outside the time frame of this online resource, but see the order of service and the appreciation, ‘Words by David Dell, CB, St James Church, Piccadilly, 21 August 2012’ (copy on file at Dulwich Picture Gallery), from which the following details derive. Henry PoolerPatrick Lindsay, to give him his full name, trained under Helmut Ruhemann (qv). He led British picture restorers in Florence after the 1966 flood. He worked chiefly on private collections but also for the National Gallery, the National Gallery of Ireland, and especially Dulwich Picture Gallery (Getty Grant Program-supported collection survey, 1988-90) and the Fogg Art Museum.
James Linnell, Streatham St, Bloomsbury by 1799, 2 Streatham St 1802-1829, 34 Hart St, Bloomsbury Square 1829-1836. Carver and gilder, picture and looking glass framemaker, printseller, picture cleaner.
Both the framemaker James Linnell (1759-1836) and his artist son John Linnell (1792-1882) undertook picture restoration from time to time. For James Linnell, see British picture framemakers on this website.
Stanley William Littlejohn (1877-1917) was the subject of a remarkable obituary in the Burlington Magazine by Laurence Binyon and Sir Sidney Colvin. It is one of the earliest, if not the first devoted to a restorer working in the public service. Littlejohn was described there as 'this uniquely gifted craftsman and valuable public servant, the head of the repairing and restoring workshop in the Department of Prints and Drawings at the British Museum'. But C.F. Bell at the Ashmolean thought that Colvin was ‘infatuated’ with Littlejohn (Ashmolean Museum, annotated obituary, see Sources below).
Stanley William Littlejohn was born in 1877 in the Camberwell district. He was listed in the 1881 census at 54 Trinity Square, Newington, Surrey, age 4, with his father, William Littlejohn, described as a 'clark of monumental engraver', and in 1901 and 1911 at 75 Arthur Road, Brixton, still with his father, both called ‘writing engravers’ in 1901, but his father described as a copper plate engraver in 1911 and Stanley as a ‘Restorer (prints and drawings and paintings) European and Oriental, Civil Servant, British Museum’.
Littlejohn served an apprenticeship as an engraver at Layton & Co, where his father worked, before trying various other trades and travelling in many parts of the world. In 1904 he was appointed to the staff of the British Museum mounting department, of which he became head in 1908. He joined the Royal Engineers in 1917 and was killed in action later the same year.
Binyon and Colvin identified Littlejohn's brilliant work for the British Museum and his high reputation abroad as well as in England, claiming, 'In his own line he had no rival anywhere'. They singled out his work on the series of Domenico Tintoretto sketches, acquired in 1907, which involved the removal of successive layers of varnish but without any retouching, and on works by William Blake, notably the colour print, Glad Day. Privately, Littlejohn undertook restoration work on the Blakes in the Graham Robertson collection. Littlejohn made a close study of causes of discolouration in old prints and drawings and would sometimes treat changed or faded colours chemically.
Littlejohn became interested in Oriental painting, taking advantage of the visit to England in 1910 of leading Japanese wood engravers, colour printers and mounters for the Japanese exhibition at Shepherds Bush. He set himself to master Japanese methods of mounting. He devised a method of backing Sir Aurel Stein's silk paintings in the British Museum with a neutral-tinted silk and mounting them on light stretchers. Notably he worked on the Admonitions Scroll for the British Museum in 1914, probably completing work before joining the army in 1917 (Joanna Kosek et al., ‘The Admonitions Scroll: Condition, treatment and housing 1903-2014’, British Museum Technical Research Bulletin, vol.9, 2015, pp.29-30). He is reported to have recommended the best Japanese Torinoko paper for lining valuable old prints (E.S. Lumsden, The Art of Etching, 1925, p.143).
Littlejohn worked in a freelance capacity for a number of leading collections, with Colvin’s support. He completed work on a big batch of drawings in the Duke of Devonshire‘s collection at Chatsworth in 1909, as Sidney Colvin reported (letter in Charles Holmes’s autobiography, Self & Partners, National Portrait Gallery, MS 53, at p.262), and went on to treat drawings for the Ashmolean, 1909-10, including mounting drawings by Raphael. However, the keeper, C.F. Bell, was dissatisfied with his work and eventually threatened legal action. In response, Colvin told Bell, ‘I will only say that he [Littlejohn] retains all my confidence as the most skilful and scientific living worker in his profession and an invaluable servant of the museum’ (Ashmolean Museum, see Sources below).
Littlejohn worked for the National Portrait Gallery on occasion, cleaning and mounting with ‘indurated’ gelatine a drawing, apparently Alfred Stevens's Self-portrait, for £1.1s in 1909, treating the Isaac Oliver miniature, Henry Prince of Wales, on acquisition in 1910, and restoring in 1913 John Constable’s pencil-and-chalk Self-portrait and George Richmond’s chalk Cardinal Newman for £2 each (National Portrait Gallery, Duplicates of Accounts, vol.6, p.97, vol.7, p.121, on notepaper headed by a pseudo-oriental seal; NPG9/1/2/1, Charles Holmes’s diary, 19 June to 19 October 1910, for the miniature).
Littlejohn was paid £48 by the collector, George Salting, in 1909 for working on an album of 32 Clouet portrait drawings, ‘Removing stains & smoke tint, Restoration of colours’, at £1.10s a drawing (Stephen Coppel, ‘George Salting (1835-1909)’, in Griffiths 1996 p.198; see also Guildhall Library, MS 19474). In 1914 he cleaned and repaired two tempera paintings by William Blake for the Tate Gallery, Bathsheba at the Bath and The Spiritual Form of Nelson guiding Leviathan, for £12.12s (National Gallery archive, NG13/1/9, 14 December 1914; Martin Butlin, William Blake: A complete catalogue of the works in the Tate Gallery, 1971, pp.110, 146).
Sources: Laurence Binyon and Sidney Colvin, 'The Late Stanley William Littlejohn', Burlington Magazine, vol.32, 1918, pp.16-19; Ashmolean Museum, Dept of Western Art, letters 1909-1920, bound correspondence with Colvin and Littlejohn, including annotated obituary. For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.
Charles Lloyd married Jane Anderson, daughter of the picture restorer John Anderson (qv), in December 1752, when living in the parish of St Martin-in-the-Fields (National Archives, RG 7/248). They had six children christened at this church between 1754 and 1763, and apparently another daughter christened at St Paul Covent Garden in 1767. Lloyd replaced John Anderson as a ratepayer in Park St in 1771. When Anderson died in 1773, Lloyd announced that as his son-in-law and partner he would be carrying on the business (Connell 2007 p.126, quoting Daily Advertiser 8 May 1773).
It remains to be ascertained whether he was the Mr Lloyd who treated the Royal College of Surgeons’ version of Holbein’s Barber-Surgeons group from 1786, receiving £50 for his work in 1789 after his claim for £400 was contested (Roy Strong, ‘Holbein’s Cartoon for the Barber-Surgeons Group Rediscovered’, Burlington Magazine, vol.105, 1963, p.7).
*Arthur Lucas (1916-96). Technical Assistant, National Gallery from 1946, Chief Restorer, National Gallery, 1954-78; trained under F.A. Pollak (see British picture framemakers) and Helmut Ruhemann (qv).
Outside the time frame of this online resource, but see obituaries by David Bomford, The Independent, 18 October 1996, and Martin Wyld, The Picture Restorer, no.11, spring 1997, p.34.