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British picture restorers, 1600-1950 - V

An online resource, launched in 2009, selectively updated twice yearly. Last updated March 2019. Contributions are welcome, to Jacob Simon at [email protected].

Introduction Resources and bibliography


William Vallance (1883-1951), Roy Vallance (1914-2006), see William Holder

*Benjamin Vandergucht, The Golden Head, Lower Brook St, London 1767-1786, 59 Pall Mall 1787-1794. Painter, picture dealer and picture restorer.

Benjamin Vandergucht (1752-94), youngest of the many sons of the engraver Gerard Vandergucht, was baptised on 11 October 1752. He studied at the St Martin's Lane Academy and, from 1769, the Royal Academy schools. He exhibited with the Free Society, 1767-70, and the Royal Academy, 1771-87. He inherited his father's house in Upper Brook Street in 1776 and is said to have added a picture gallery to display his stock as a picture dealer, charging one shilling to visitors to view the collection. He specialised in theatrical scenes but gave up painting in around 1787 to concentrate on art dealing and picture restoration.

Vandergucht worked on pictures at Chiswick House and possibly Devonshire House for William Cavendish, 5th Duke of Devonshire, receiving some £166 between 1785 and 1794. In particular, he was paid £52.10s in the second quarter of 1793 ‘for 2 pictures & cleaning Belisarius’, that is the so-called Van Dyck, now attributed to Luciano Borzone, The Blind Belisarius receiving alms (Chatsworth, information from Charles Noble, see Sources below). It was on his return from a visit to Chiswick House that he drowned in the Thames when his boat was run down. In his will, made 31 March 1790 and proved 13 October 1794, Benjamin Vander Gucht, Gentleman of Lower Brook St, left most of his estate to his wife Sophia and children. His collection of old master pictures was auctioned at Christie's in March 1796.

Joshua Reynolds wrote to the Earl of Upper Ossory on 5 September 1786 to express his sorrow that a picture was being sent to Vandergucht for cleaning, continuing, ‘Without any disrespect to Mr. Vandergucht who as far as I know may repair the picture as well as any other man of the trade in England, the value of the picture will be lessend in proportion as he endeavours to make it better…’ (Ingamells 2000 pp.166-7).

Sources: Obituary, Gentleman’s Magazine, vol.64, October 1794, p.870; Timothy Clayton, ‘Benjamin Vandergucht’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2004; Devonshire Archives, C/166 ms. Household Accounts, 1785-94, information kindly supplied by Charles Noble, April 2012.

Herman Vander Myn, Amsterdam until 1709 or later, Antwerp 1712-1713, Düsseldorf to 1716, Antwerp 1716-1717, Paris 1718, Antwerp before 1721/2, London from 1721 or 1722, Soho Square (later no.27), London 1723-1728, Princes St, Cavendish Square, London 1734, Holland 1736-1737, London again until his death in 1741. Flower, history and portrait painter, picture restorer.

Heroman van der Mijn (c.1684-1741), or Herman Vander Myn as he was usually known in England, was born in Amsterdam, the son of Andries van der Mijn. He entered the studio of the flower painter, Ernst Stuven, and in 1706 married Susanna Bloemendal. After working in Amsterdam, Antwerp and Dusseldorf, he came to London in 1721 or 1722, recommended by Lord Cadogan and others, according to George Vertue’s account in 1728 (Vertue vol.3, p.34). He took a house in Soho Square from 1723, charging high prices for his work, but ‘his affairs did not answer, & put him under difficulties to support the character & a great house in Soho Square’ (Vertue vol.3, p.35, see also 'Nos. 27-28 Soho Square', Survey of London, vol.33, St Anne Soho, 1966, p.106, available online at www.british-history.ac.uk). This led him to hold an auction sale of his paintings at Christopher Cock’s in 1728, advertised as the ‘Intire Works of Mr. H. Vander Myn’ (Daily Post 7 May 1728). ‘Heroman Vandermyn’, and Geertruyd, his second wife, had a son Robert, born in 1725 and christened at St Anne Soho, and another, George, christened there in 1727.

Vertue considered Vander Myn ‘a very Laborious neat painter’ (Vertue vol.3, p.34). His portraits are typified by their high finish and sometimes complex iconography, e.g. Carew Hervey Mildmay, 1733 (Government Art Coll.).

‘Vander Myn’, presumably Herman Vander Myn, was recommended to Brownlow, 8th Earl of Exeter, at Burghley House, Stamford, to clean and repair the pictures etc for £500, according to George Vertue, writing in 1732 or 1733 (Vertue vol.3, p.64). Herman Vander Myn’s pictures, Rose on a covered glass, signed and dated 1730, and its pair, Spaniel and dead game, remain at Burghley. Horace Walpole, writing in 1764, mentioned these paintings and stated that ‘Vandermin…lived long with the last Earl’ (Paget Toynbee (ed.), ‘Horace Walpole’s Journals of Visits to Country Seats, etc’, Walpole Society, vol.16, 1928, p.58).

Sources: A. Staring, ‘De van der Mijns in Engeland’, Nederlands Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek, vol.17, 1966, pp.201-45, vol.19, 1968, pp.171-203; Hugh Belsey, ‘Mijn, Heroman van der (c.1684-1741)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2004. For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.

John van der Vaart, London from 1674, Covent Garden by 1694, Next door to the New Building, Henrietta St, Covent Garden c.1709-1711, Tavistock Row 1711-1726, Little Piazza, Covent Garden 1727. Portrait painter and engraver.

The Dutch portrait painter and engraver, Jan van der Vaart(1647/53-1727), born in Haarlem, came to London in 1674 and earned his living as a drapery painter for Willem Wissing (Vertue vol.3, p.32). He also painted landscapes with small figures and still-lives.

In 1711 ‘Van der Vaart Painter’ stated that he was ‘intending… to give over his Business’, and shortly afterwards he advertised a sale of his collection of pictures (Post Man and the Historical Account 3 February 1711, 10 March 1711). Finding that he was losing his eyesight, he sold off his pictures and bought a small house in Covent Garden, where he began a lucrative business as a picture restorer, according to George Vertue (Vertue vol.3, p.32).

In his will, made 18 January and proved 29 March 1727, ‘John Vander Vaart’ of the parish of St Paul Covent Garden made bequests to members of the Van der Vaart family and left the residue of his estate to his nephew and executor, John Arnold (qv). A sale of his pictures was held later the same year (Daily Post 12 December 1727).

Restoration work: For the Royal Collection, ‘Mr Vandervert’ received payment of £78.15s in 1725 for cleaning and mending three large pictures of the Holy Family, the Three Graces and Andromeda (National Archives, LC 5/158, p.332). 

For the Duke of Devonshire, John van der Vaart cleaned various pictures, according to his bill of 21 October 1725 (Chatsworth, Devonshire Archive, item 134.1A, see 'The art world in Britain 1660 to 1735,' at http://artworld.york.ac.uk, accessed 30 November 2013). For Sir Thomas Webster, ‘Vander Vaart’ cleaned pictures, etc, for which he was paid £15.3s in 1723 (account book, see Thomas Thorpe, Descriptive Catalogue... of the Muniments of Battle Abbey, 1835, pp.190-1, at http://artworld.york.ac.uk/, accessed 16 March 2013).

A half length panel portrait of Sir Thomas Pope, founder of Trinity College Cambridge, was noted by Vertue, apparently in the mid-1720s, as due to be repaired by Van der Vaart (Vertue vol.1, p.151).

Sources: Edward Croft-Murray and Paul Hulton, Catalogue of British Drawings, XVI & XVII Centuries, British Museum, 1960, pp.484-5. For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.

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

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