British picture restorers, 1600-1950 - M
An online resource, launched in 2009, selectively updated twice yearly. Last updated December 2020. Contributions are welcome, to Jacob Simon at [email protected].
Outside the time frame of this online resource, but see ‘In Appreciation’ by Peter Bower, ICON News, no.1, November 2005, pp.26-7.
Giuseppe Marchi, London from 1752 (initially at Joshua Reynolds’s), Maiden Lane (at Mr Maberly’s) 1766-1770, Wales 1768-1769, St Martin’s Lane (variously at Mr Maberly’s, opposite Slaughter’s coffee house, or near Long Acre) 1771-1775 or later, Wardour St 1803, Great Compton St 1808. Painter, assistant to Sir Joshua Reynolds, printmaker and picture restorer.
As a young man, the Italian, Joseph Marchi (c.1735?-1808), or to give him his full name, Giuseppe Filippo Liberati Marchi, was brought from Rome by Joshua Reynolds in 1752. Reynolds painted his portrait the following year (Royal Academy).
Marchi was Reynolds’s chief studio assistant until 1792, apart from 1768-9 when he worked independently in Wales. Reynolds paid him a salary of £100 p.a. (there is an agreement in Reynolds’s ledger, dated 22 November 1764, that Marchi should live in his house and paint for him for six months for £50). He is said to have been responsible for making copies of Reynolds's portraits, and to have kept his sitter books. Marchi was a subscriber to the St Martin’s Lane Academy in 1754 (Bignamini 1991 pp.116, 121 n.42) and exhibited at the Society of Artist, 1766-8. He also made a dozen or more mezzotints in the late 1760s and the 1770s, mainly after Reynolds’s work.
In his will, made 20 May 1803 and proved 30 April 1808, Joseph Marchi of Wardour St nominated his three sisters (two of whom were nuns at Lodi) and a brother, to receive bequests if still living. He also made bequests to his fellow artists, including Thomas Hearne of Macclesfield St, Joseph Farington, James Nixon and John Leppard. His will was unwitnessed and John Harris, carver and gilder of Conduit St was one of those who appeared before the probate court to verify his handwriting (for Harris, see British picture framemakers). Marchi’s pictures, drawings and prints were auctioned by Squibb on 30 June 1808.
According to Marchi’s obituary, he had considerable skill in cleaning pictures and, from his intimate knowledge of the principles on which Joshua Reynolds's pictures were painted, he was 'frequently employed to restore such as had suffered by neglect, which he did with great success' (Gentleman’s Magazine, vol.78, 1808, p.372). Much of our knowledge of Marchi's later life and his activities as a restorer comes from his friend, Joseph Farington, whom he told in February 1795 that he was 73 or 74 years old, implying a rather earlier birth date of 1721 or 1722 than usually credited. For Farington, he cleaned the sky of his Malvern Abbey in 1794, and proposed to line and clean his portrait of Joshua Reynolds in 1801 (Farington, vol.1 p.202, vol.4 p.1527).
Farington appears to have recommended Marchi to various members of the nobility, going with him in 1796 to show him pictures to be cleaned at Lord Walpole’s and Lord Orford’s, and calling on him a few days later to see the results of this work and what he had done for Mr Walpole (Farington, vol.2 pp.586, 591). In 1806 Marchi cleaned a picture for ‘Humphry’, presumably the artist Ozias Humphry, who accused him of overcleaning the work (Farington, vol.7 p.2730).
Marchi had a particular reputation for restoring pictures by Joshua Reynolds. He was recommended to clean and restore Reynolds’s pictures at Belvoir Castle in June 1796, and while there he treated Reynolds’s Nativity, by infusing a preparation of paste through the cracks, and cleaned 19 other pictures by Reynolds, charging £81.16s for 72 days work (Farington, vol.2 pp.588, 603, vol.3 pp.669, 672). Marchi worked for Lord Holland, telling Farington in July 1796 that he had cleaned and glazed Reynolds’s Lady Sarah Bunbury, Lady Susan Fox Strangways and Charles James Fox, which ‘had become almost white’; later the same year he was at Holland House cleaning another picture for Lord Holland and also copying a portrait for him (Farington, vol.2 p.593, vol.3 pp.675, 730). The Duchess of Rutland recommended Marchi to the Duke of Beaufort to clean pictures by Joshua Reynolds; a payment to him for cleaning pictures at Badminton dates to 1799 (Farington, vol.2 p.588; Gloucestershire Record Office, Badminton Muniments, D2700/RA2/1/21).
Sources: Malcolm Cormack, ‘The Ledgers of Joshua Reynolds’, Walpole Society, vol.42, 1970, p.107. For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.
Samuel M. Mawson, 3 Carlisle St, London by 1837-1840, 3 Berners St 1840-1859, 29 Soho Square 1859, 13 Bridge Road, St John’s Wood 1861-1862. Picture dealer and importer, picture cleaner.
The activities of Samuel Moses Mawson (1793-1862) as a picture dealer have been explored by John Ingamells, to whom this account is indebted. Mawson first comes to attention in land tax assessments from 1816 to 1819 for property in the Minories in the City of London. In 1829 he sold pictures in Foster’s auction room. He sent pictures to a further 32 sales before the end of 1837, but only to 12 sales over the next 18 years. Mawson also sold pictures in Paris in 1844, 1850 and 1853. In 1855 he announced his retirement from business, selling his stock at Christie’s. He died in the Marylebone district in 1862, leaving effects worth under £7000, his will proved by his widow Jane Mawson and his nephew Montague Richard Leverson.
Mawson acted extensively for the collector, Richard Seymour-Conway, 4th Marquess of Hertford, as their correspondence reveals, purchasing works at auction for him from 1848, including three of the most expensive pictures at the Stowe sale in 1848 (Forster 1848 pp.190, 194-5) and arranging his collection in Berkeley Square and at Manchester House, now the Wallace Collection.
Although Mawson called himself a picture cleaner, little is known of his activity in this area. In a letter to Lord Hertford in 1856, he referred to a picture by Greuze as one which he had cleaned many years before for Francis Mills (Ingamells 1981 p.87). What is clear is that Lord Hertford gave Mawson responsibility for commissioning cleaning and lining work for his pictures, as when he wrote in 1854 concerning Murillo’s Joseph and his Brethren, ‘As you say it requires lining I leave, with full confidence, what is to be done to your care & kindness & I am certain you will see that it is properly & carefully treated & I hope to find it in charming order.’ (Ingamells 1981 p.60, Ingamells 1985 p.393). Mawson used Francis Leedham (qv) to carry out the lining work on this picture. The following year, Hertford wrote to Mawson from Paris, ‘I shall be very thankful if you will have little Jupiter & Leda properly repaired, but it will require a clever man to do it well’ (Ingamells 1981 p.70). The correspondence sometimes leaves open the possibility that it was Mawson himself who cleaned certain works, as in 1856 when Hertford wrote concerning two pictures, including Watteau’s The Music Lesson (Wallace Collection), ‘I accept with gratitude your offer of cleaning Conway Castle & the Watteau’ (Ingamells 1981 p.81, Ingamells 1989 p.373).
In 1850, Mawson apparently cleaned or arranged to have cleaned some pictures in or from the collection of the Marquis de Montcalm, including a Van der Neer Moonlight and Nicolas Poussin’s The Birth of Bacchus (Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, MA; see Ingamells 1981 pp.26-7).
Sources: John Ingamells, The Hertford Mawson Letters: The 4th Marquess of Hertford to his agent Samuel Mawson, 1981, especially pp.13-15. For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.
Added December 2020
Sir John Medina (1659-1710), portrait painter in London c.1686, settled in Edinburgh 1694.
John Medina II (d.1764), portrait painter in Edinburgh.
John Medina III (1721-96), portrait painter in Edinburgh.
Three generations of the Medina family, father, son and grandson, worked in Edinburgh over the space of more than 100 years from about 1694. Their work in picture restoration as an ancillary occupation is discussed here. For their practice as artists and in later years picture dealers, see the publications listed in Sources below. This entry is greatly indebted to Helen Smailes. Records prefix GD are held by the National Records of Scotland and those prefix NRAS are catalogued by the National Records but generally held elsewhere.
Sir John Medina: In November 1696 Sir John Medina was paid for ‘mending of one litle picture in mignature, for the Master of Stairs’, among other work (National Library of Scotland, MS 25280, Dalrymple of Newhailes papers, information from Helen Smailes). In 1702 payment to Medina of £3.3s was authorised for cleaning, mending and varnishing a full-length of Queen Anne belonging to the City of Edinburgh (Edinburgh City Archives, Town Council Minutes, 5 May 1702, information from Helen Smailes).
In an intriguing incident in 1707, Medina encouraged Lord Blantyre’s agent, George Chrystie, to get his portrait of Blantyre framed in London where it would be better and more cheaply done; this meant that it had to be ‘rolled up in a little smal box’ and sent by sea to London (NRAS2177/Bundle 2803). An obscure Scottish painter, ‘Chambers’, trained under Medina before 1709 and later took to copying and cleaning pictures, see British picture restorers on this website.
John Medina II: In 1735 John Medina II, acting as an agent or executor, received payment of £25.6d due to Kenneth Smith, deceased painter in Edinburgh, from James, Duke of Hamilton and Brandon, for cleaning and mending pictures (NRAS2177/Bundle 539). In 1743, Medina’s account for mending, cleaning and varnishing two small pictures was among payments made by Christian, widow of James, 3rd Marquis of Montrose, and Christian, Duchess of Montrose (GD220/6/900). In 1748 he was paid by the Earl of Lauderdale for ‘cleaning, straining, varnishing and takeing the cracks out of a picture, a relation of your lordship’s’ (NRAS 832/59/49, information from Helen Smailes).
John Medina III: In 1759 Medina III submitted an account to Lord Dumfries for cleaning and varnishing various pictures including a large history piece by Bassano (Peter Humfrey et al., The Age of Titian: Venetian Renaissance Art from Scottish Collections, 2004, p.427 n.14).
In August 1782 Medina ‘in Hyndford's Close’ was recommended to Sir James Grant by the painter David Allan, as the ‘proper person’ to repair a picture -- probably a portrait of the Vicomte de Vaux damaged in transit, which Medina had repaired by October (GD248/357/5, 7). In August 1783 Medina was paid £5.4s in for repairing and cleaning several portrait paintings belonging to the City of Edinburgh 'in July last' (Edinburgh City Archives, Town Council Minutes, 20 August 1783, f.149, information provided by William Fortescue to Helen Smailes).
In 1789 Medina received payment, apparently from the Watsons of Saughton, for cleaning, lining, repairing and varnishing two fruit and flower pieces by an unnamed Italian master (GD150/3325/65, information from Helen Smailes). He also cleaned pictures at Holyrood Palace (see Jeffares in Sources below).
In his postmortem inventory in 1797, Medina III was due £2.2s from Buchanan Hepburn, advocate, for repairing a portrait of Queen Mary (see Joe Rock’s research pages, note 1).
Sources: For Sir John Medina, see Rosalind Marshall, John De Medina 1659-1710, 1988.
For Medina II, see Joe Rock’s detailed research pages, https://sites.google.com/site/researchpages2/home/john-medina-artist-c-1720---1796 . For Medina III, see the summary entry in Neil Jeffares, Dictionary of Pastellists before 1800, at www.pastellists.com/Articles/Medina.pdf.
Updated March 2016, September 2019
Henry Merritt, 1 Woburn Buildings, Tottenham Court Road, London by 1851-1861, 34 Foley Place, Great Portland St 1858, 24 Langham St 1858-1865, Dymoke Lodge, Oval Road, Regents Park c.1864-1866, 2½ Oval Road 1866, 54 Devonshire St, Portland Place 1865-1877. Picture restorer, art critic and novelist.
Henry Merritt (1822-77) was born in Oxford in poverty, one of nine children of a tailor, Joseph Merritt. He was apprenticed to a framemaker at the age of about 15. He was given free drawing lessons by the painter, William Delamotte (who had once undertaken picture restoration for the Bodleian). In 1846 Merritt came to London and worked as a gilder and picture copyist.
Merritt’s story has been told from differing viewpoints by two early biographers, in 1879 by his wife of his last year, the American artist, Anna Lea Merritt, and in 1882 by his landlord for many years, George Jacob Holyoake. In addition, in 1865 he himself published anonymously Robert Dalby and his World of Troubles, a romanticised account of his own early life.
In Holyoake’s account, ‘Henry Merritt had some delightful qualities, but he was the most timid, the most irritable and inconsistent of all the children of genius whom I have known’. He recorded that Merritt came to live in his household in about 1847 and continued there nearly 18 years. Merritt was so recorded in the 1851 and 1861 censuses, as a picture restorer, born Oxford, lodging in the Holyoake household at 1 Woburn Buildings, Tottenham Court Road. Holyoake records that Merritt occupied two rooms, one as a studio. Merritt subsequently moved with the Holyoakes to Dymoke Lodge, Oval Road, Regents Park, where he occupied four rooms, the two main ones with folding doors making a spacious studio. It was presumably Merritt who encouraged Manfred Holyoake (qv), Holyoake’s son, to become a picture restorer.
Merritt established himself as a picture restorer in 1851 when he began working for Holyoake’s friend, Joseph Parrinton, a wealthy collector. Holyoake encouraged Merritt to engage in art criticism, under the pseudonym, Christopher. In 1854 Merritt published Dirt and Pictures Separated, with a preface by Holyoake, describing the skills of the restorer as well as the techniques of various artists, including Van Dyck and Rembrandt and the restoration of their work, also giving his own thoughts on picture cleaning (The Cabinet of Reason A Library of Freethought, Politics and Culture, Dirt and Pictures Separated In the Works of the Old Masters, Holyoake & Co, 1854, and subsequent editions).
In 1870, when in his late forties, Merritt met the young American painter Anna Massey Lea (1844-1930), who like him had a studio at 54 Devonshire St. He introduced her to Burne-Jones, G.F. Watts and W.P. Frith (Anna Lea Merritt, Memories from 1844 to 1927, typescript, n.d., pp.109, 112-3, copy in National Portrait Gallery library). He married her on 17 April 1877 but died three months later on 10 July at their home in Devonshire St, leaving effects worth under £5000. He was buried in Brompton Cemetery in the tomb of his friend, the dealer and restorer Henry Farrer (qv) (South London Chronicle 21 July 1877). Among the mourners were F.W. Burton, Director of the National Gallery, George Richmond, Thomas Woolner, members of the Holyoake family and a certain ‘Giovanni Scaressa’, in error for Giovanni Sciarretta (qv), a restorer who was chosen by the Fitzwilliam Museum to replace Henry Merritt.
In her recollections, published in 1879, Anna Lea Merritt recalled her relationship with Henry Merritt, from first seeing his ‘hospital for pictures’ and his tuition to his ‘dear little pupil’, as he called her in some of his letters. She produced a portrait etching of her husband in 1878 (example in British Museum) and also painted a memorial to him, Love Locked Out, 1889 (Tate).
Restoration work for institutions etc: Henry Merritt was among the restorers chosen by Richard Redgrave, Surveyor of the Queen’s Pictures, to work on the Royal Collection (Millar 1977 p.189). He undertook much work between 1861 and his death in 1877 (Dolman 2017). In 1862 he began treating John Michael Wright’s Triple Portrait of John Lacy, reducing it to its original size, with structural work undertaken by George Morrill (qv), 1863 (see Jenny Rose, 'Treatment of the ”Triple Portrait of John Lacy” by John Michael Wright', Hamilton Kerr Institute Bulletin, no.4, 2013: pp.21-32). Merritt lined Boy with a Pipe ('The Shepherd'), attributed to Titian, in 1864 (Shearman 1983 p.253) and restored Cristofano Allori’s Judith for £7 in 1865 (National Archives, LC1/152 p.142). He restored Louis Laguerre’s Marlborough House staircase wall paintings of scenes from the Duke of Marlborough's campaigns (Oxford DNB). On a visit to Merritt in February 1864, George Scharf, Secretary of the National Portrait Gallery, noted in his sketchbook that Merritt had in his studio various works from the Royal Collection which were being sent up to Holyrood in Scotland (National Portrait Gallery records, NPG7/3/4/2/79); these included portraits of James I, Charles II, the 18th Earl of Oxford, James ‘The Admirable’ Crichton and Cornelius Johnson’s Unknown Lady (Millar 1963 nos 61, 110, 133, 139, 233).
At the National Gallery, Merritt worked from at least 1858 when he restored the backgrounds of the Quinten Massys workshop panels, Christ and The Virgin, for £2.2s (see National Gallery archive, NG13/1/3-4, for this and subsequent payments; see also Campbell 2014 p.471). He restored three pictures in 1859 for £13.15s including Moretto's Virgin and Child with Saints and Thomas Stothard’s The Vintage, and the following year he repaired two pictures by William Hilton, now in the Tate Gallery, Editha Searching for the Body of Harold, which was double lined for the considerable sum of £30.15s and Sir Calepine Rescuing Serena, which was treated for £16. He cleaned and restored Joshua Reynolds’s Lord Heathfield for £33.12s in 1867. Subsequently, he helped remove the discoloured varnish on Cima da Conegliano’s The Incredulity of St Thomas in 1870 and advised on Piero della Francesca’s The Nativity in 1874 (Jill Dunkerton, ‘The Transfer of Cima’s The Incredulity of St Thomas’, National Gallery Technical Bulletin, vol.9, 1985, p.42; The Times 14 July 1877).
On the recommendation of Sir Charles Eastlake, director of the National Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery employed Merritt, from 1859 until his death in 1877 (National Portrait Gallery records, Duplicates of Accounts, vol.1, pp.26-92, see also Scharf cashbook 1860-8 and Walker 1985 p.134). His work included parquetting and restoring John De Critz’s Earl of Salisbury for £8.10s in 1860, cleaning and restoring J.S. Copley’s full-length Lord Mansfield for £5 in 1864, ‘parquetting & part repairing portrait of Sir Walter Raleigh’ for £7.10s in 1865, lining, cleaning and repairing the nose of the Old Pretender for £5 in 1872 (a portrait from the studio of Alexis Simon Belle), repairing the newly acquired Henry VII (formerly attributed to Sittow) in 1876, and putting in order portraits from Serjeants’ Inn for £11.14s.6d in 1877. He was followed at the Gallery by Frederick Haines (qv) and by John Reeve (qv), who had undertaken work at the Gallery during Merritt’s lifetime as his assistant.
At the South Kensington Museum Merritt submitted invoices to the considerable sum of £88 in 1864 and worked on a picture belonging to Earl Spencer in 1876 (V&A archive, MA/4/1, RP/1864/11053, 11154; MA/4/37, RP/1876/8121, 8485, information from James Sutton).
Merritt had other institutional clients in London. He was employed at Dulwich College to clean Aelbert Cuyp’s A Road near a River in 1864 when the painting was relined by George Morrill (qv) (Waterfield 1995 p.52). At the Society of Antiquaries he cleaned portraits of King Henry VI and Queen Mary of Austria in or shortly before 1864 (George Scharf, 'Catalogue... of the pictures in the possession of the Society of Antiquaries', Fine Arts Quarterly Review, vol.2, 1864, pp.322, 327). At Westminster Abbey he was recommended by the painter George Richmond (qv) in 1865 to clean the portrait of Richard II, removing overpaint applied by Captain Broome (qv) in the early 18th century (see Merritt’s obituary in Art Journal for a lengthy account; see also George Scharf’s account in Fine Arts Quarterly Review, vol.2 1867, pp.26-63); in fact much of the work in this radical cleaning was undertaken in 1866 by Richmond himself (McClure 2001 pp.457-77).
At Sir John Soane’s Museum in 1868 and 1870, he cleaned Eastlake’s Una delivering the Red Cross Knight from the Cave of Despair, and varnished John Jackson’s Sir John Soane in Masonic Costume, both in 1868, and cleaned A.W. Callcott’s The Passage Point and polished William Hogarth’s Election series of four paintings for £3, both in 1870 (information from Hilary Floe and Helen Dorey, 2008). He was employed at the Royal Academy, perhaps on Eastlake’s recommendation as President, from at least 1863-71, possibly for longer, receiving £72 in 1863, £80 in 1864, £40 in 1865 and smaller sums thereafter (Royal Academy Council minutes, vol.12, pp.150, 179, 200, 230, vol.13, pp.14, 191, 216). According to Anna Lea Merritt he also worked at the Garrick Club.
Outside London, Merritt worked at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, 1859-76 (see Syndicate minutes, annual report and accounts). While the Cambridge picture dealer and printseller, Robert Roe (qv) was employed by the Fitzwilliam for much work, some of the more significant paintings were given to Merritt to treat. He restored Paulo Veronese’s Hermes, Herse and Aglauros in 1859-60, apparently carrying out the work in Cambridge, and prepared a detailed statement of his restoration; he was asked to inspect the picture again in 1864 to see if revarnishing was necessary (Minutes, 8 February 1859, 25 February 1859, 6 June 1859, 12 May 1860, 14 April 1864). He was asked to advise on cleaning certain paintings in 1870 and to report on paintings offered to the Museum, in 1872 those in the Kerrich bequest and in 1876 paintings in the VanSittart collection, subsequently treating some of these works (Minutes, 5 February 1870, 30 November 1872, 29 March 1873, 19 and 27 May 1876 [Merritt and Sidney Colvin’s original report on the VanSittart collection is bound in]). He was requested to examine the Rembrandt school ‘Dutch Officer’ and Titian’s Venus and Cupid with Luteplayer in 1874 (Minutes, 6 June 1874).
For the University Galleries, Oxford, again on the recommendation of George Richmond, and in co-operation with him, Merritt cleaned pictures in 1867, charging £176 in July and a further £96.3s in November (Royal Academy archive, George Richmond papers, GRI/3/382; Ashmolean Museum Western Art Print Room, Minutes of the Curators of the University Galleries, pp.41, 43). These pictures included Uccello’s Hunt in a Forest, the Apollonio di Giovanni studio cassone panel, Death of Julius Caesar, Bronzino’s Giovanni de Medici, Edward Penny’s Death of General Wolfe and Marquis of Granby giving Alms and Joshua Reynolds’ Mrs Meyrick (Ashmolean Museum, see National Portrait Gallery records, NPG7/3/4/2/89 and the article on the Ashmolean Museum in this resorce). At Christ Church, Oxford, he advised in 1869-70 (Byam Shaw 1967 p.13).
Restoration work for private clients: An indication of Merritt’s reputation comes in a recommendation from Dante Gabriel Rossetti in 1871: ‘a safe person to go to is Mr Merritt, who works a good deal for the National Gallery. His charges… are not low, but not immoderate, and he is really capable’ (William Michael Rossetti, Dante Gabriel Rossetti. His Family Letters, 1895, vol.2, p.237). However, two years later Charles Howell told Rossetti, in discussing varnishing a picture, that he thought that Raphael Pinti (qv) was better than Merritt (Cline 1978 no.295).
Merritt’s private clients included Rossetti himself, for whom in 1867 he cleaned the 'Botticelli' Smeralda Bandinelli (now Victoria and Albert Museum, see Fredeman, letter 67.51), and the Pre-Raphaelite patron, William Graham, for whom he made recommendations in 1873 on varnishing one of Rossetti’s works (Garnett 2000 pp.207, 257, 298). Another artist, John Callcott Horsley, described Merritt as ‘the best restorer we have ever had in England’, adding that he profited greatly by his association with Sir Charles Eastlake when director of the National Gallery; Horsley identifies Merritt’s work on William Hilton’s ruinous study of Editha’s head for Editha and the Monks (Tate, Vernon bequest, see J.C. Horsley, Recollections of a Royal Academician, 1903, p.228). After Eastlake’s death, Merritt cleaned some of his work, ‘batch after batch of exquisite sketches’, for his widow, Lady Eastlake in 1867 (Julie Sheldon (ed.), The Letters of Elizabeth Rigby, Lady Eastlake, 2009, p.276).
An early client was William Ewart Gladstone, with whom Merritt was on sufficiently good terms to be invited to breakfast and dinner; he restored a painting at 11 Carlton House Terrace in 1858 for £13.16s, gave advice on works of art and recommended William Agnew to value Gladstone’s pictures for auction in 1875 (British Library, Add.MSS 44390 ff.11, 111, 44409 f.93, 44415 f.359, 44446 f.329). Merritt is reported to have relined John Constable’s Arundel Castle and Mill for Charles Golding Constable in or soon after 1867 (Toledo Museum of Art, see Ian Fleming-Williams and Leslie Parris, The Discovery of Constable, 1984, p.71).
When George Scharf, Director of the National Portrait Gallery, visited Merritt’s studio in 1868, he saw and sketched The Ladies Noel, by Bartholomew Dandridge, belonging to Col. Noel (now Manchester Art Gallery) and Juan Bautista del Mazo’s Queen Mariana of Spain in Mourning from Castle Howard (now National Gallery) (see National Portrait Gallery records, NPG7/3/4/2/93). On a subsequent visit in 1874, he saw various pictures belonging to Lord Radnor at Longford Castle, as well as one from Knebworth (NPG7/1/3/1/2/19).
‘Mr Merritt’ was paid £12 for picture cleaning work for the 7th Duke of Devonshire in 1862 (Devonshire Archives, Chatsworth, DF5/2/1/14, 7th Duke’s account book 1865-72, information from Charles Noble, October 2014). Merritt’s other country house clients included Colonel Lennard in 1864, for whom he cleaned the portrait, Sir Walter Ralegh and his son (now National Portrait Gallery; see British Library, Add.MS 81304A f.84 and National Portrait Gallery records, NPG7/3/4/2/81), the Duke of Norfolk in 1869 (National Gallery archive, NGA1/17/10) and Lord Ashburton in 1874 for whom he prepared a list of pictures injured or destroyed by fire at Bath House, Piccadilly (MS catalogues and lists of pictures in Galleries and Private Collections II, 1881, National Portrait Gallery, Scharf Library, D(22)). He ‘renovated’ the portrait of the Earl of Surrey attributed to Holbein, one of those shown at the National Portrait Exhibition in 1866 (Manfred Holyoake, The Conservation of Pictures, 1870, p.14).
Other collections he treated, generally on the recommendation of George Scharf, included the Boughton collection (1865), Lord Methuen’s pictures from Corsham including a Murillo and Elsheimer’s Shipwreck of St Paul, now National Gallery (1866), Lord Radnor, including Mabuse/Lucas van Leyden’s Three Children (1874) (National Portrait Gallery records, Trustees meeting correspondence, meetings of 16 March 1865, 9 March 1866, 12 April 1866, 81st meeting, 8 February 1875). Merritt restored Gentile Bellini’s Doge Augustino Barbardico at Nuneham in 1878 under George Richmond’s supervision (Edward William Harcourt (ed.), The Harcourt Papers, vol.3, 1880 or later, p.259).
Sources: Obituaries, The Times 14 July 1877, and Art Journal, vol.16, 1877, pp.309-10; Basil Champneys (ed.), Henry Merritt, Art criticism and romance, with recollections, and 23 etchings by Anna Lea Merritt, vol.1, 1879, pp.1-65; George Jacob Holyoake, Sixty years of an agitator’s life, vol.2, 1892, pp.232-47; Frederic Boase, Modern English Biography, vol.2, Truro, 1897, col.854; A.F. Pollard, rev. Suzanne Fagence Cooper, ‘Merritt, Henry (1822–1877)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2004. For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.
Added March 2020
John Mills (1928-2019). Conservation scientist and Scientific Adviser to the National Gallery.
Outside the scope of this online resource, but see the obituary in The Daily Telegraph, 26 November 2019. See also Mills’ autobiography, Which Yet Survive: Impressions of friends, family and encounters, 2017.
Updated March 2018
Henry Mogford, Craven St, Strand, London 1820s?, 10 Tichborne St 1837, 22 Westbourne St, Belgravia by 1840-1851, 104 Denbigh St, Belgravia 1852-1860 or later. Picture dealer, artist, author and antiquary.
Henry Mogford FSA (1787-1874) was christened in 1787 at St Martin-in-the-Fields, one of eight children born to Henry and Sarah Mogford between 1784 and 1805. It would seem that his father was the Henry Mogford listed as a tailor and habit maker at 1 Craven St, Strand in 1822 and who was made bankrupt in 1824 (London Gazette 9 October 1824). Henry Mogford, probably the father rather than then the son, was listed in rate books in Craven St, as a tenant of Lord Craven, from 1797 to 1824.
The son became a picture dealer, artist, author and antiquary. He married Margaret Otridge in 1816 and they had a daughter Margaret Amelia (b.1819) and a son John (b.1822), both christened at St Martin-in-the-Fields in 1826; their son became a landscape painter. Our Henry Mogford died at the age of 87 in 1874 at his home in Hounslow, leaving effects worth under £800. He can be traced in successive censuses, in 1841 at 22 Westbourne St, Belgravia, as in Her Majesty’s Record Service, in 1851 at the same address as a teacher of drawing, age 64, with his wife Margaret, age 54, and in 1861 and 1871 as an annuitant.
Mogford’s connections with Belgium have been the subject of recent research by Jan Dirk Baetens (see Sources below, cited here as Baetens 2015). He exhibited in Brussels in 1845, wrote anonymously about Belgian art for the Art Journal in 1852, among other articles, and became secretary to the Belgian expatriate art dealer, Ernest Gambart by 1854.
Mogford’s activities: As a picture dealer in Craven St, according to his obituary in the Art Journal in 1874, Mogford, ‘many years ago’, campaigned against the trade in fictitious old masters, successfully exposing a source of spurious pictures, located near Richmond Bridge, known to the initiated as the ‘Canaletti Factory’. As an agent for Prince Albert, Mogford tried to interest the National Gallery in the Prince Wallerstein collection of early Italian, German and Netherlandish paintings in 1851 (Stanley Weintraub, Uncrowned King: The Life of Prince Albert, 1997, pp.173, 449, see also National Gallery archive, NG5/88/3 and NG6/2/45).
As an employee of the Record Office, 1835-41, Mogford acted as the workmen’s spokesman when petitioning for better pay. It would seem that he was responsible for a very detailed drawing of one of the many decayed Common Plea rolls in 1840. He lost favour and resigned in 1841 following petty complaints about his service (John D. Cantwell, The Public Record Office, 1838-1958, 1991, pp.69-70, 539-40, and pl.3).
As an artist, Henry Mogford made drawings for S.C. Hall’s Baronial Halls & Picturesque Edifices of England, 1848. He was friendly with the watercolourist, Thomas Shotter Boys, with whom he corresponded, 1831-54 (Marcia Pointon, The Bonington Circle: English Watercolour and Anglo-French Landscape, 1790-1855, pp.139-42). He exhibited work at the Royal Academy and at the Society of Artists, 1837-46, giving ‘Smart’s’ at 10 Tichborne St as his address in the 1837 Society of Artists catalogue, suggesting that he was then lodging with the picture restorers, Edward and Henry Smart (qv), or using them as an accommodation address. He was secretary to the Amateur Artists’ Gallery at 121 Pall Mall in 1854 (see Pointon, above).
As an authority on picture restoration, his Hand-book for the Preservation of Pictures containing practical instructions for cleaning, lining, repairing, restoring, and preserving Oil Paintings, was published in 1845, going through 14 editions by 1905.
As an exhibition organiser and manager, Mogford organised an exhibition of pictures by living artists to coincide with the Great Exhibition in 1851 (Baetens 2015 p.129). In 1856 he was appointed to manage the fine arts section at Crystal Palace. In this capacity, he was in contact with leading artists (City of Westminster Archives Centre, Accession 988/16, 42, 47): Charles Couzens wanted two family portraits belonging to Mrs Ionides of Tulse Hill framed before exhibiting them at the Crystal Palace, George Hayter requested him to send him his picture, Our Saviour after the Temptation, and his son's picture, Roman Charity, while C.R. Leslie wanted his painting, Sancho returned.
As an antiquary, Mogford was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 1853. He produced papers on the monuments in Westminster Abbey, 1860.
Sources: Obituary, Art Journal, vol.13, 1874, p.280. Westminster rate books, accessed at www.findmypast.co.uk. Jan Dirk Baetens, ‘For the Public Good and Private Benefit: Henry Mogford and the mid-Victorian art scene’, in Animateur d’Art, ed. Ingrid Godderis & Noémie Goldman, 2015, pp.127-39, including a discussion of letters written by Mogford and addressed to him in the Royal Library of Belgium.
Outside the scope of this online resource as working overseas, but see Cecil Gould, ‘Eastlake and Molteni: The Ethics of Restoration’, Burlington Magazine, vol.116, 1974, pp.530-4; Jaynie Anderson, ‘The Controversial Issue of Restoration in Relation to the New Acquisitions’, concerning the National Gallery, in The Travel Diaries of Otto Mündler 1855-1858, Walpole Society, vol.51, 1988 (1985 on title page), pp.18-24, for his work on pictures for the National Gallery on the instructions of Sir Charles Eastlake; Fernando Mazzocca et al., Giuseppe Molteni: 1800-1867, e il ritratto nella Milano romantica, 2000; and Giorgio Bonsanti, ‘Raphael’s Marriage of the Virgin in Milan and the restoration by Giuseppe Molteni (1858)’, in Isabelle Brajer (ed.), Conservation in the Nineteenth Century, 2013, pp.29-44.
For his style of restoration and his work on eight pictures in the collection of the National Gallery, see National Gallery Technical Bulletin, vol.11, 1987, pp.9, 13; vol.15, 1994, pp.42-3; Jill Dunkerton, ‘Gusto, stile and tecnica in due restauri di Giuseppe Molteni’, in Mazzocca et al., cited above, p.77ff; and Susanna Avery-Quash, ‘The Art of Conservation II: Sir Charles Eastlake and Conservation at the National Gallery, London’, Burlington Magazine, vol.157, 2015, p.848, n.32. Molteni also restored pictures for Sir Henry Layard, pictures which subsequently came to the National Gallery as a bequest (NG10/12).
Frederick Moody, 16 Duke St, Holborn, London, then at 53 Cowper St, City Road 1836. Artists' materials manufacturer, map and print colourer, mounter and varnisher.
See British artists' suppliers on this website.
Henry Robert Morland, Leicester Fields, London 1760,Frith St 1762,‘Near the Opera House’, Haymarket 1763-1764 or later, Noel St, Soho 1767-1769, subsequently at Chapel St, Wardour St and other addresses, according to contemporary exhibition catalogues. Artist, crayon maker and picture restorer.
See British artists' suppliers on this website.
Added March 2016
Charles Augustus Mornewick (1792-1874); his son, Charles Augustus Mornewick (1812-80). Both artists and picture restorers.
Charles Augustus Mornewick worked for George Scharf at the National Portrait Gallery in 1860 and 1861 (National Portrait Gallery archive, Scharf cashbook 1860-8). He was paid £4.15s for restoring Michael Dahl’s John Locke and a copy of J.M. Wright’s Thomas Hobbes in December 1860 and a further £6 for unspecified picture cleaning the following December (NPG7/1/1/2/2/1, Scharf petty cash book).
There were four generations of this family bearing similar names. George Scharf must have employed either Charles Augustus Mornewick (1792-1874), who was described as a ‘Teacher of Drawing, Oil Painting, Picture Cleaner and Repairer, and Picture Buyer and Seller’ when insolvent in 1835 (London Gazette 26 June 1835) or his son of the same name, Charles Augustus Mornewick (1812-80), also an artist.
Some years later in 1878, Lady Llanover wrote to Scharf about putting a portrait ‘into the hands of the faithful Morniwick who is I think unrivalled in the art of removing the daubing of so-called restorers and recovering the original Painting’ (National Portrait Gallery records, Trustees’ meeting correspondence, meeting of 23 March 1878). She must have been referring to the son, Charles Augustus Mornewick (1812-80), since both the father and the grandson of the same name were dead by then.
Frank Morrell & Co by 1910-1911, Frank Morrell 1912-1914, 1917, 1920-1940. At 5 & 6 Portland Mews, Poland St, Soho, London 1910-1914, 1917, 1920-1940. Picture liners.
Frank Morrell (1882-1964) was born in 1882 in the St Pancras district and died in 1964, aged 81 years, leaving an estate worth £8716. As Frank Morrill, he was listed in the 1901 census in the household of his cousin, William Morrill (see below) at 3 Cambridge Gardens, Kensington, as a picture liner, age 18, born St Pancras. Frank Morrell married Emma Dring (1882-1970) in the St Pancras district in 1908. She died age 89 in 1970. In the 1911 census Frank Morrell appears as a picture liner and employer, age 28, born Kentish Town, living in Wembley Hill, with his wife and son, Frank Richard, age one year. He had two sons, Frank Richard (1910-74) and David Dring (1914-2007), neither of whom entered the business.
Frank Morrell & Coadvertised as ‘Picture Liners, Etc. Panel Work and Transferring a Speciality’ in The Year’s Art in 1910 and 1911, and as Frank Morrell from 1912 to 1914 but appears to have left off business for much of the First World War. Frank Morrell provided an estimate to the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, on the recommendation of Langton Douglas, for £150 for transferring Sebastiano del Piombo’s badly flaking Nativity to a fresh canvas, work which was completed in 1930 (Fitzwilliam Museum, Minutes, 25 April and 30 May 1929, 24 April 1930). ‘Morell’ ironed the surface of Francesco Guardi’s Venice: the Grand Canal with the Riva del Vin and Rialto Bridge, 1929 (Wallace Collection, see Ingamells 1985 p.292). Morrell retired from business soon after the outbreak of the Second World War.
For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.
Sources: Information kindly supplied by Peter Morrell, Frank Morrell’s grandson, June 2010, providing Frank Morrell and his sons’ dates of death, and his sons’ occupations. See also The Times 10 November 1970 for Emma Morrell’s death.
Updated March 2018, December 2020
George Morrill 1857-1865, William Morrill 1866-1899, William Morrill & Son 1899-1961, William Morrill & Son Ltd 1962-1980. At 3 Duck Lane, Wardour St, London 1857-1980, also at 26 Poland St, Oxford St 1865-1871, 5a Railway Place, Ladbroke Grove 1872, 78 Gresham Road NW10 1970. Picture liners, restorers and cleaners.
This long-lived business specialised in structural work. It was begun by Francis Leedham (qv) in 1827, moving to 3 Duck Lane in 1839, where it continued until 1980, in the ownership of George Morrill from 1857, and then in the hands of his son, William Morrill, and grandsons.
George Morrill (c.1812-1865) took over the picture lining business of Francis Leedham (qv) in 1857. In an account dating to 1860, he stated that he was ‘for upwards of 23 years Foreman’ to Leedham (Jeannie Chapel, ‘The Papers of Joseph Gillott (1799–1872)’, online appendix, p.7, Journal of the History of Collections, 2008, vol.20, pp.37-84). It is apparent that claims made by the Morrill family that their business had been founded in 1827, as stated on later billheads (e.g. National Portrait Gallery records, Duplicates of Accounts, vol.8, p.101), refer to the establishment of Leedham’s business.
The Morrill family has been studied by Lorne Campbell, to whom this account is indebted. George Morrill was born in about 1812 in Trowbridge in Wiltshire according to census records. As a picture liner, described as the son of George Morrill, shearman, he married Harriet King, daughter of James King, shearman, at St John the Evangelist, Westminster on 15 October 1837, when they were both resident at 53 Wardour St (marriage certificate, information from Lorne Campbell). He can be found in census records, in 1841 in Meards St, Soho, as a picture liner, with wife Harriet and in 1861 at 46 Poland St as a picture liner, age 49, born Trowbridge, with wife Harriet, age 43, and son William, picture liner, age 22, for whom see below.
George Morrill died at 26 Poland St, Oxford St, on 15 March 1865. It would be ‘difficult to replace him’, feared Ralph Wornum, keeper at the National Gallery (National Gallery archive, NGA2/3/2/13). In his will, made 19 April 1859 and proved 29 April 1865, Morrill described himself as a picture liner and left his estate to his wife and son (information from Lorne Campbell). His executors were his friends Francis Leedham and Richard Ambrose Mersh, Buckland, Portsea, gentleman. The will was proved by Leedham, with effects under £300. His widow, Harriet lived on until 1892.
The picture liner, Elijah Morrill (c.1820/3-1894), was probably George Morrill’s brother or cousin. In census records he was recorded in 1851, age 31, at 24 Arthur St, St Giles-in-the-Fields, and in 1881, age 61, born Trowbridge, Wiltshire, at 113 Arthur St, Chelsea, always as a picture liner. He died in 1894, age given as 71, in the Fulham district.
The Surveyor of the Queen’s Pictures, Richard Redgrave, used Morrill for parquetting and lining pictures (Millar 1977 p.189), a choice which Oliver Millar has described as unfortunate since many of the Hampton Court pictures have been sadly flattened (Millar 1991 p.23). However, Paris Bordone's Virgin and Child with two donors is said to have been relined by Morrill in 1862 with exceptional skill for the period (Shearman 1983 p.56). In 1862-3 Morrill and Henry Merritt (qv) treated John Michael Wright’s Triple Portrait of John Lacy, reducing it to its original size, 1863 (see Jenny Rose, 'Treatment of the ”Triple Portrait of John Lacy” by John Michael Wright', Hamilton Kerr Institute Bulletin, no.4, 2013, pp.21-32). In 1865, Morrill and Raffaelle Pinti (qv) treated the Giulio Romano workshop Mermaid feeding her young (Shearman 1983 p.131).
‘Morrill the liner’, followed by his son William (see below), worked extensively for the National Gallery, 1858-97. He treated Francesco del Cossa’s St Vincent Ferrer and Giovanni Bellini’s Madonna of the Meadow in 1859 and lined J.M.W. Turner’s London from Greenwich (Tate Gallery) in 1860 (National Gallery archive, NGA2/3/4/50, NG 13/1/3). He lined and reduced to original size Paris Bordone’s Portrait of a Young Woman in 1861, which was then cleaned by Raffaelle Pinti (Penny 2008 p.46). For Sir Charles Eastlake personally, George Morrill produced a cradle for the Bouts workshop panel, Virgin and Child with Sts Peter and Paul, which bears his stamp, G MORRILL (National Gallery, see Campbell 1998 p.67).
Morrill was employed by the Royal Academy, possibly in concert with Henry Merritt (qv), 1863-5, receiving £52 in 1863 and £31 in 1864; his son, William was also employed in 1865 (Royal Academy Council minutes, vol.12, pp.150, 180, 200, 214, 297). At the Wallace Collection, he relined two works, both stamped on the stretcher, G MORRILL/ LINER, namely Van Dyck's Philippe Le Roy and Aert van der Neer’s Canal Scene by Moonlight (Ingamells 1992 pp.110, 230). At Dulwich Picture Gallery, ‘Morrell’ relined Aelbert Cuyp’s A Road near a River in 1864, when the painting was cleaned by Henry Merritt (Waterfield 1995 p.52).
At Highclere, he ‘relined with perfect success’ Joshua Reynolds’s Lady Elizabeth Herbert and her son (private coll., see Mannings 2000 no.881), ‘having detached the painted surface entirely from the original canvas, to which it had hardly the slightest adhesion’ (Leslie 1865 p.377). His stamp can be found on Gainsborough’s Karl Friedrich Abel (National Portrait Gallery, see Ingamells 2004 p.2) and Thomas Hudson's Dr Isaac Shomberg and James Northcote's Anne King (Huntington Art Gallery, see Asleson 2001 pp.206, 288).
At the Fitzwilliam Museum, four pictures in the A.A. VanSittart gifts of 1864 and 1876 have Morrill’s stretcher stamp, including Jan Wynants’ Landscape with woman and dog and Jacob van Ruisdael’s View on the Amstel, and two others bear the stamp of Morrill’s predecessor, Francis Leedham (qv).
‘G. Morrill’ carried out lining work on John Sell Cotman’s Wherries on Breydon Water (Tate) and Portrait of a Young Man (Norwich Castle Museum), both stamped on stretcher bar: G MORRILL LINER (information from Rose Miller, May 2012, from museum conservation records). Morrill undertook work for Joseph Gillot, 1859-68 (Jeannie Chapel, ‘The Papers of Joseph Gillott (1799–1872)’, online appendix, p.7, Journal of the History of Collections, 2008, vol.20, pp.37-84). Morrill lined the French school Profile Portrait of a Young Man for William Russell or the artist, G.F. Watts, c.1860, stretcher stamped: G. MORRILL/ LINER (National Gallery, see Campbell 2014 p.746). He treated Nathaniel Hone’s John Wesley (National Portrait Gallery), probably for the dealer, Henry Graves, in 1861; the stretcher bears the impressed stamp: G MORRILL – LINER (see National Portrait Gallery file, RP 135). An example is illustrated in British restorers, liners and mounters marks on this website.
William Morrill (1838-1910), son and successor of George Morrill, was born in 1838 in Soho, and married in 1874 Eliza Ann Jones (1841-1913), daughter of John Christian and Sarah Jones, at All Souls, Marylebone (information from Lorne Campbell). Morrill did not take his cousin, John Jones (qv), into partnership and he set up independently, despite having worked in the Morrill business for 21 years (Haines & Sons to George Scharf, director at the National Portrait Gallery, 1892, NPG Trustees meeting correspondence, meeting of 17 December 1888).
William Morrill was made bankrupt in 1896 and it was said in 1900 that he had omitted to keep such books of accounts as were proper in his business (London Gazette 23 June 1896, 25 December 1900). On a few occasions, 1906-8, he subcontracted work to Adolph Hahn (qv). He died at the age of 72 at 3 Cambridge Gardens, North Kensington on 5 December 1910 and his will was proved on 2 February 1911, with effects worth £1155 (information from Lorne Campbell).
He can be traced in successive censuses, always as a picture liner. In 1861 at 46 Poland St with his father, George Morrill, in 1871 at 26 Poland St, and thereafter at 3 Cambridge Gardens, Kensington, in 1881 with his wife Eliza, two young sons, George and William, a daughter and his mother Harriett, in 1891 with his wife and mother and son George, age 16, already a picture liner, and in 1901 with his son William J., age 21, a picture restorer, and cousin Frank Morrill, age 18, a picture liner. Both his sons became picture liners and restorers, George Elgar Morrill (1875-1964) and William John Morrill (1880-1963), see below, as also his cousin, Frank Morrell (1882-1964), see above.
For the Royal Collection following his father’s death, William Morrill continued to undertake structural work, charging £14.12s for lining eight paintings in 1865, works which were treated by Buttery, Merritt and Pinti (National Archives, LC 1/152, 193; see also Brooks 1999 p.136).
Like his father, William Morrill worked extensively for the National Gallery, mainly on structural work. Among his activities, he transferred five old German pictures from panel to canvas for £53 in 1865 (National Gallery archive, NG13/1/3), lined the Claude studio Landscape with the Death of Procris, c.1870, and Gaspard Dughet’s Tivoli, 1878? (Wine 2001 pp.160, 138), transferred Carlo Crivelli’s Annunciation, 1880 (National Gallery archive, NG7/21/3, 13/1/6), transferred the Pieter Coecke workshop, The Crucifixion, 1881 (Campbell 2014 p.252), cradled Ercole de’ Roberti’s Last Supper, 1883 (National Gallery Technical Bulletin, vol.10, 1986, p.35, n.1), lined Joshua Reynolds’ Lord Ligonier, 1891 (NG13/1/7; now Tate), rejoined and parquetted the panels of Holbein’s Ambassadors, 1891 (Martin Wyld, ‘The Restoration History of Holbein’s Ambassadors’, National Gallery Technical Bulletin, vol.19, 1998, p.9), lined and partially cleaned Jacopo Bassano's The Good Samaritan, c.1891-3 (Penny 2008 p.16), and double lined Titian’s Bacchus and Ariadne, 1894 (with further work, 1929, 1940, 1941, see Arthur Lucas and Joyce Plesters, ‘Titian’s Bacchus and Ariadne’, National Gallery Technical Bulletin, vol.2, 1978, p.27).
For the National Portrait Gallery, William Morrill undertook occasional work, initially double lining Karl Anton Hickel’s large House of Commons for £40 in 1887 (when Haines cleaned the picture), while it was on loan to the National Gallery. He came with a strong recommendation from Sir Frederic Burton, director at the National Gallery, ‘It is probable that when Morrill has to do his work away from his own premises, he may add a little to his estimates, which would be perfectly fair. But a serious risk is avoided by getting the work done under a safe roof. I have never observed in Morrill any desire to make jobs for himself. And I think that both his honesty & his experience may be relied upon in any recommendation he makes as to the soundest course to pursue in any given case.’ Thereafter in the early 1890s and then again in the 1920s, the Morrill business carried out other work for the Portrait Gallery. It was responsible for transferring the paint from one canvas to another and triple lining John Partridge’s 4th Earl of Aberdeen for £8.10s in 1893 (when Dyer cleaned the picture) (National Portrait Gallery records, Duplicates of Accounts, vol.2, p.128, vol.3, p.66). Hickel’s Lord Mendip (National Portrait Gallery, see Ingamells 2004 p.337) is stamped ‘W. Morrill/ Liner’.
Like his father, William Morrill worked on the Dulwich College Picture Gallery collection, lining unspecified pictures, 1870-88 (see Dulwich Picture Gallery).
For the 4th Marquess of Hertford or for Sir Richard Wallace, Morrill lined various pictures now part of the Wallace Collection, the stretchers stamped W. MORRILL/ LINER or W. MORRILL, including Francois Boucher’s Madame de Pompadour, the ‘Canaletto’ Venice: the Grand Canal from S.Simeone Piccolo, Joshua Reynolds’s Mrs Elizabeth Carnac, Allart van Everdingen's Landscape with Waterfall, Meindert Hobbema’s A Wooded Landscape, Willem van de Velde the younger's The Burning of the Andrew after 1871, and Edwin Landseer’s Doubtful Crumbs (see Ingamells 1985 pp.112, 146, 256, Ingamells 1989 p.38, Ingamells 1992 pp.117, 155, 386, 418). He also lined Jan Weenix’s Dead Game and small birds and his Dead Peacock and Game, c.1872, and cradled Rubens's The Rainbow Landscape, 1895 (Ingamells 1992 pp.312, n.3, 410, n.3).
For the Earl of Carlisle, Morrill thinned the panel, apparently working at the National Gallery, of Jean Gossart's The Adoration of the Kings, 1884 (Campbell pp. 356, 381 n.23).
The Morrill family worked at the University Galleries, Oxford in 1867 (Norman 2009 p.23). Elsewhere, Thomas Creswick's The Windmill (Sudley, Liverpool, see Morris 1996 p.96) bears an incised stretcher mark, W. MORRILL/ Liner. ‘W. Morrill’ carried out lining work at an uncertain date on John Sell Cotman’s Duncombe Park (Tate), stamped on reverse of stretcher bar: W MORRILL LINER (information from Rose Miller, May 2012, from museum conservation records).
At Westminster Abbey, the Westminster Retable was cleaned in 1898, reportedly by F.M. Morill & Sons or by F.H. Morrill (Paul Binski and Ann Massing, eds, The Westminster Retable: history, technique, conservation, 2009, pp.178, 208-9). This cannot refer to Frank Morrell (qv) who was too young at the time. Possibly the work was carried out by William Morrill.
In 1873, Dante Gabriel Rossetti described ‘Morrill’ as ‘skilful and careful’ to his friend, Charles Howell, who in turn stated that Morrill had worked for him for years; these remarks arose because Morrill had to redo the lining of Rossetti’s Proserpine (Cline 1978 nos 320, 322). Edward Burne-Jones used Morrill to reline The Mill in 1874 (now Victoria and Albert Museum, see below). Whistler employed Morrill in 1879 to cut 7 inches off the top of an unidentified full length painting of a boy and to add this strip to the bottom of the painting before relining the work (The Correspondence of James Mcneill Whistler at www.whistler.arts.gla.ac.uk).
For William Morrill’s stamp, see the illustrated guide, British restorers, liners and mounters marks on this website. See also Karen French and Eric Gordon, ‘Conservation of the Abduction of Helen Series’, The Journal of the Walters Art Museum, vol.74, 2019, at https://journal.thewalters.org/volume/74/essay/conserving-the-abduction-of-helen-spalliere-paintings/ where a W. Morrill stamp on the underside of a vertical cradle batten is illustrated (information from Clara Gonzalez).
George Elgar Morrill (1875-1964), elder son and eventual successor of William Morrill, traded as William Morrill & Son from 1899, initially it would seem with his brother, William John Morrill (see below). He was born in 1875 in Kensington. He was already active as a picture liner at the age of 16, as recorded in the 1891 census. In the 1911 census, he was living in Chiswick, a picture liner (worker), with his wife Edith. He lived latterly at Trevethan, Swangleys Lane, Knebworth, Hertfordshire. He died on 17 December 1964 and his will was proved on 14 March 1969, with effects worth £23,891 (information from Lorne Campbell).
The business described itself as picture liners to the National Gallery from 1899 until 1969, and subsequently as formerly picture liners to the National Gallery. However, after 1946, it undertook very limited work for the Gallery. It treated the attributed Brunswick Monogrammist, The Raising of Tabitha, fixing wooden batons, 1931, and the copy after Joos van Cleve, The Adoration of the Kings, securing loose paint, 1935 (Campbell 2014 pp. 206, 244). Before the National Gallery’s acquisition of Titian's Vendramin Family, Morrill relined the picture for the Duke of Northumberland in 1928, working at the Gallery, and Dyer (qv) cleaned and restored it (see Penny 2008 p.210). For the Tate, Morrill cleaned and relined Turner’s Holy Family (no.473) by 1948 for £42 (Tate archive, TG 18/1/1/4) and undertook further work, 1949-53 (National Gallery archive, NG13/1/14).
For the Wallace Collection, George Morrill transferred Joshua Reynolds’s St John the Baptist to a new canvas, 1911-3, a process involving removal of the paint from the preparation before lining, a time-consuming and laborious procedure which was only concluded when the Wallace agreed that the picture could be moved to Morrill’s own premises rather than treated in his studio at the National Gallery (National Archives, AR 1/178). Morrill described the St John as ‘the most difficult picture that we have ever had to do during all years of our experience and transferring is never easy work’.
The business worked for the National Portrait Gallery from 1919 until 1940 (National Portrait Gallery records, Duplicates of Accounts, vols 8 and 9; Account book 1935-42, 21-B-3), including unrolling and restretching some of the largest paintings in the collection in preparation for the reopening of the Gallery after World War One. It undertook structural work for the Ashmolean Museum, reducing to size Charles Alexander’s portrait, C.D.E. Fortnum, for £3.3s in 1928-9, and adding canvas round the edges and slightly cleaning and restoring Antonio Bellucci’s huge canvas, The Family of Darius before Alexander, for £95 in 1929, as well as treating works by Jordaens and Van Dyck for a further £72 (Ashmolean Museum, Dept of Western Art, receipted bills).
When William Holder & Sons were called in by the Victoria and Albert Museum after World War One to prepare various paintings for redisplay, it was William Morrill & Son whom they recommended for lining work. In 1921 George Morrill lined five pictures in the ‘pickling room’ at the museum, presumably using the lining table installed on the recommendation of Frederick Haines (qv) in the early 1890s. This work included double lining and providing a new stretcher for William Beechey’s Frederick Hurlestone, and laying paint and lining Richard Burchett’s Isle of Wight (Victoria and Albert Museum archive, ED 84/138, item 961). Subsequently, Morrill undertook further work for the museum, including in 1924 strip lining Edward Burne-Jones’s The Mill of 1870, during which process he discovered a label on the reverse of the work showing that his father had lined the picture for Burne-Jones himself in 1874 (ED 84/138, item 3711).
The business worked for the Iveagh Trustees on various pictures in the Iveagh Bequest, Kenwood, 1930-51, including lining and repairing Joshua Reynolds's A Fortune Teller, 1930, and lining Thomas Gainsborough's Going to Market, 1931/2 (Bryant 2003 pp.149, 158, 177, 198, 311, 329, 334, 382). It also undertook work for the Scottish collector and critic, Arthur Kay, 1936 and before (Arthur Kay, Treasure Trove in Art, 1939, p.162, information from Helen Smailes).
Less information is available concerning Morrill’s activities in the decades following the Second World War and the business closed in 1987.
William John Morrill 1913-1957, W.J. Morrill Ltd 1958-1982. At 28-31 Great Pulteney St, London W1 1913, 29 Great Pulteney St (Golden House) 1914-1982. Picture liners, restorers and cleaners.
William John Morrill (1879-1963) was the son of William Morrill and younger brother of George Elgar Morrill (see above). He was born in 1879 in Kensington. He was recorded as a picture restorer, living with his father, age 21 in the 1901 census (see above). He married in Kensington in 1903. In the 1911 census, he was recorded living in North Kensington, a picture restorer (worker), with wife Ada and a daughter. He traded independently from 1913 until 1957 when the business became W.J. Morrill Ltd. He retired to Claygate, Esher, where he died on 20 March 1963. His will was proved 8 May 1963, with effects worth £7,941 (information from Lorne Campbell).
W.J. Morrill cleaned various works in the Norwich Castle Museum (information from Rose Miller, May 2012, from museum conservation records), including John Sell Cotman’s The Baggage Wagon, c.1932, The Mishap, c.1932, In the Bishop’s Garden, 1951, Dutch Boats off Yarmouth, 1954, also repairing Cotman’s Cader Idris, 1952, and treating John Crome’s Study of a Burdock, 1936. He treated panel pictures by unidentified artists for the Ashmolean Museum, 1941 (Ashmolean Museum, Dept of Western Art, receipted bills). He undertook work for the Scottish collector and critic, Arthur Kay, 1936 and before (Arthur Kay, Treasure Trove in Art, 1939, p.162, information from Helen Smailes).
For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.
Henry John Murcott by1864-1912, Harry Charles Murcott 1913-1924, H.C. Murcott & Sons 1924-1941, Harry Charles Murcott 1942-1947. At 16 Hanover St, Long Acre, London 1864-1877, Hanover House, 6 Endell St, Long Acre 1878-1935, 28 Store St WC1 1936-1947, emergency wartime address 11 Mercers Road N19 1942-1944. Picture dealers, later frame manufacturers, picture restorers and repairers and mounters of drawings.
For details of Henry John Murcott (c.1836-1910) and his son, Harry Charles Murcott (1870-1947), see British picture framemakers on this website. Murcott advertised in The Year’s Art 1903, ‘Large or small collections of pictures cleaned, renovated, rehung &c. Paintings lined and restored with artistic skill and care.’
*Jim Murrell (1934-94). Conservator of miniatures; restorer, Victoria and Albert Museum, 1961-94.
Outside the time frame of this online resource, but see obituary in Conservation News, November 1994 (available at Hamilton Kerr Institute: Jim Murrell Obituary). He carried out work for the National Portrait Gallery and the Fitzwilliam Museum. His archive at the Hamilton Kerr Institute comprises files of reports and slides.
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