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British artists' suppliers, 1650-1950 - C

An online resource, launched in 2006, selectively updated twice yearly. Last updated March 2019. Contributions are welcome, to Jacob Simon at [email protected].

Resources and bibliography Introduction

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

*John Calfe (active late 17th century, died 1719), TheSt Luke’s Head without Temple Bar,London. Oil and colourman, teaman, etc.

John Calfe (c.1669-1720) traded both as an oil and colourman and as a teaman, selling tea, coffee and chocolate. His trade card, depicting St Luke with a palette and easel, described him as a ‘Colour Seller’, and advertised ‘all sorts of Colours, Oyles,/ Varnish, Brushes, pencels for all sorts of painting, prim’d Cloths/ Colours ready prepared for House painting, Pictures, & School Works,/ Leafe Gold, & Silver, Speccles, & Mettals for Jappanning, &c’ (Heal coll. 89.26, with list of disbursements on the reverse for the period 1709-12, repr. Ayers 1985 p.129). This trade card is also known in another version, engraved by John Savage in the late 17th century (Banks coll. 89.4*; Pepys Library, Cambridge, repr. Ambrose Heal, 'Samuel Pepys His Trade Cards', Connoisseur, vol.92, 1933, p.166).

In a marriage allegation of April 1693, he was described as John Calfe of St Clements Danes, Colourman, Bachelor, age about 24 (Lambeth Palace Library, VM I/18). He died on or about 3 June 1719, leaving a considerable estate. In his lengthy will, made 3 June 1719 and proved 2 December 1720 following a legal dispute, he appointed his son, John Calfe junior, and Samuel Bernard as executors. He refers to his stock in both the colour and the tea trades. A post mortem inventory and associated documents are preserved in the National Archives (PROB 3/19/213, PROB 18/35/220). The inventory, taken 10-12 October 1720, reveals a well-furnished house, a tea shop, and a colour shop containing ‘Sundry painters Oyles Colours Brushes primed Cloaths Compters Shelves Boxes Casks, Scales and waits etc’ to the value of £185.6s.4d.

Debts due to John Calfe are listed in the inventory, including from ‘Calliveaux’ at £30.6s, presumably the painter and picture restorer, Isaac Collivoe senr (see British picture restorers on the National Portrait Gallery website), ‘Keating’ at £12, possibly an early reference to Robert Keating (qv), ‘John Peters’ at £18.7s.5d, possibly the portrait painter and restorer, John Peeters (see British picture restorers) and ‘John Tisoe, arms painter’ at £1.11s.4d.

While these customers may have been patrons of the colour shop, it is possible that others listed as owing money were purchasers of tea, rather than colours, including the Duchess of St Albans at 24s, Lord Burlington at £2.11s, Lady Fitzwater at £30.8s, Lord Effingham Howard at £3.10s, the Duke of Kent at £10.1s, the Duke of Norfolk at 11s, the Duchess of Rutland at 18s, the Earl Stafford at £2.12s.6d and Lord Wharton at £15.10s.2d.

Calfe’s son was apprenticed to Simon Duncalf of the Cutlers’ Company on 26 January 1720.

For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.

Updated September 2018
John Capes,
75 Myddleton St, Clerkenwell, London 1836, 13Dean St, Shoreditch 1837-1839, King’s Mead Cottages, New North Road, London by 1841-1842, 6Canonbury Terrace, Islington 1844-1861, 5 Rosomans Buildings, Islington Green 1861-1870, 25 Lonsdale Square, Islington 1871-1879. Artists' brush manufacturer. Also trading from 9 Holden Terrace, Pimlico (‘six doors from Victoria Station’) 1873-1876, as artists’ colourman.

John Capes (1815-79), artists' brush manufacturer, was a significant supplier of brushes to Charles Roberson & Co from at least 1842 until his death in 1879 (Hamilton Kerr Institute, MS 944-1993 p.102, 180-1993, 183-1993).

John Capes was born 2 March and christened 24 March 1815 at St Leonard Shoreditch, the illegitimate son of Charles Albin, alias James Capes, and Ann Rost or Ross. He is one of three children by this relationship identified in Albin’s will, made 1816 and proved 1837. He is also mentioned in his mother, Ann Rost’s will, proved 1837, and that of his brother-in-law, Luke Sayers, proved 1836 (PCC wills, information from Alex Glover).

Capes married Sarah Morley at St Mary Islington in 1836. Their daughter, Mary, was christened in Shoreditch in 1839, by which time Capes was described as a brushmaker, living in Dean St. Various subsequent children were christened at St Mary Islington, 1847-60, when Capes was in Canonbury Terrace. Capes’s first wife, Sarah, died in 1853 and his second, Jane, in 1862.

In censuses, John Capes can be found as a brushmaker or artists’ brushmaker, in 1841 at Mead Cottages with his wife Sarah and children, in 1851 at 6 Canonbury Terrace, age 37, with his wife Sarah and eight children, in 1861 at the same address, age 46, with his second wife Jane and seven children, and in 1871 at 25 Lonsdale Square, a widower, age 55, with his daughter, Jemima Gascoyne (1842-1914), age 28, and her husband Alexander Gascoyne (1847-1923), a wood engraver. 

John Capes supplied C. Roberson & Co with huge quantities of brushes, 1842-53 (Hamilton Kerr Institute, MS 944-1993). He opened his shop at 9 Holden Terrace, close to Victoria Station, in 1873, where he succeeded George Bowden (qv). He was followed by Kemp & Co (qv) from about 1876. Successive businesses at this address had purchase accounts with Roberson, 1873-1908 (Woodcock 1997). Capes advertised from Holden Terrace as sable, hog and camel hair brush manufacturer, also offering, ‘Every description of material for Oil and Water-Colour Painting. Pictures framed in any style’ (The Artists’ Directory 1875, p.193). Marked canvases have been recorded; for an illustration of Capes’s canvas stamp, see the guide British canvas, stretcher and panel suppliers’ marks: Part 2, A to D on this website.

Capes also traded in partnership with Edward Brewer as a wine merchant at 3 Love Lane, Eastcheap, until subject to bankruptcy proceedings in 1876, but he was able to pay off his creditors in full (London Gazette 24 March, 12 May, 25 August 1876). Capes died intestate on 22 March 1879, with an estate worth under £600. Administration of his estate was granted to his daughter, Jemima Gascoine (London Gazette 22 April 1879). He was followed in business at 25 Lonsdale Square as a brushmaker supplying Roberson’s by J. Gascoine, presumably Jemima Gascoine, later in partnership with Joseph Mares (Hamilton Kerr Institute, MS 183-1993, 204-1993, 232-1993).

In 1909 Jemima Gascoine’s partnership with Joseph Mares, trading as J. Gascoine and J. Mares, artists’ brush makers at 30 Archibald Road, Holloway, London, was dissolved by mutual consent (London Gazette 31 December 1909). J. Gascoine & Co, artists brush and pencil manufacturers (wholesale) was trading at Quadrant House, 33 Highbury Quadrant, Islington in the 1910 and 1915 London directories. Jemima Gascoine died on 6 June 1914. This paragraph is based on information from Alex Glover.

Sources: Information as acknowledged kindly supplied by Alex Glover, Jemima Gascoine’s great-great-grandson, April 2018; Proudlove 1996. For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.

**Care & Barnhalt, 13 Loman’s Pond, Southwark, London, late 18th century. Superfine cake watercolour and varnish makers.

Information on the partnership and business of Care & Barnhalt is very limited. Their colour box trade label from 13 Loman’s Pond, Southwark, featuring three swans, advertised 'Highly Improved Superfine Cake Colours/ Wholesale and for Exportation at their Colour & Varnish Manufactory’ (private coll., Dorset, perhaps originally belonging to Thomas Rackett the Younger, exh. Georgian Faces: Portrait of a County, Dorset County Museum, 2011, inspected April 2011, with thanks to Gwen Yarker;another example private coll., Somerset).

*Carter, London, father (dates unknown), and son Thomas Carter (active 1680, died 1747/8). Colourmen.

Carter senior was employed by Charles Beale (qv), 1677, 1681 (Talley 1981 pp.271, 286, 289). The son was depicted as a young man in red chalk drawings by Charles Beale the younger (Edward Croft-Murray and Paul Hulton, Catalogue of British Drawings, vol.1: XVI & XVII Centuries, British Museum, 1960, pp.159-60). He was known to George Vertue, perhaps in about 1741 (Vertue vol.5, pp.14, 20). He is probably to be identified with Thomas Carter, colourman of St Paul Covent Garden, who died in 1747 or 1748, leaving a will, made 3 June 1746 and proved 26 January 1748, bequeathing various specified paintings to his nephews and nieces and their children and bequeathing his utensils and colours to Samuel Willard, colourman of St Paul Covent Garden.

For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.

Cass Arts, see Thomas Reeves & Son

Edward Frederick Chapman, see James Newman

William Chapman, see George Blackman

Updated September 2013
Charles Chenil & Co Ltd,
183a, later also at 181 King’s Road, Chelsea, London 1905-1927. Artists' colourmen, brush manufacturers, picture framemakers and picture dealers.

The Chenil Gallery was set up next to Chelsea Town Hall in 1906 by Jack Knewstub, brother-in-law of both William Orpen and William Rothenstein. It followed on an earlier venture, Chelsea Art School, which had opened in 1903 with Orpen and Augustus John as principals and Knewstub as secretary. It was housed in an old Georgian house with two small rooms downstairs, one used as a shop to sell artists' materials, the other as an etching press room, with two exhibition rooms on the first floor. The artists' materials part of the business,Charles Chenil & Co Ltd, trading as Chenil Ltd, advertised as ‘English & Foreign Artists' Colourmen, Brush Manufacturers, Gilders, Carvers, & Frame Makers, Picture Dealers, Restorers and Conveyancers’ (The Year's Art 1906, also advertising the Chenil Gallery) and used its notepaper in 1910 to claim to be the sole agents in Chelsea for Newman’s colours (National Archives, BT 31/17564/85979). 

The New Chenil Galleries, a rebuilding of the premises to include the adjoining building, was proposed in 1923 (see Mr. Augustus John’s Opinion upon the proposed new Chenil Galleries, 30 January 1924, with article, ‘New Art Centre for London’, reprinted from Christian Science Monitor, 17 December 1923, 4pp pamphlet). It depended on raising further capital, by converting Charles Chenil & Co Ltd from a private to a public company. A detailed prospectus was published including an elevation and plan, with costings, of the proposed new building (National Archives, BT 31/17564/85979). The premises opened in 1925 with a sculpture exhibition (The inaugural exhibition of present-day British art: organised by the Chelsea Arts Club, exh.cat., 1925). H. Granville Fell’s introduction to this catalogue, The Story of Chenil’s, described the history of the business and its current plans: a 99-year lease of an area of 14,000 square feet had been obtained from the Cadogan estate; the new building, planned by Messrs Kennedy & Nightingale, when completed would comprise six picture galleries and a sculpture hall now open, a restaurant, two large studios to be dedicated to an art training school, with the intention to extend the scheme later by the inclusion of a small repertory theatre.

Perhaps not surprisingly given the ambition of the scheme, Knewstub was made bankrupt, and Charles Chenil & Co Ltd ceased trading in 1927 when the company was wound up voluntarily (London Gazette 1 February 1927) and the premises sold at auction six months later (see Anne Helmreich and Ysanne Holt, ‘Marketing Bohemia: The Chenil Gallery in Chelsea, 1905-1926’, Oxford Art Journal, vol.33, 2010, pp.58-9, including views of the exterior and interior).

Creditors were paid as little as 1s 8½d in the £. Among suppliers of artists’ materials and picture frames those with the greatest outstanding accounts were Winsor & Newton Ltd at £119, Bourlet & Son at £99, George Rowney & Co Ltd at £22, James Newman at £22 and C. Roberson & Co at £20 (National Archives, BT 34/3196/85979, accounts quoted to nearest pound).

Artists using Chenil’s products: Chenil’s label described the business as ‘Representative English and Foreign. Artists' Colourmen’; an example is the frame label on Augustus John’s By the Sea, c.1908 (Christie’s 18 November 2005 lot 17). Other paintings by Augustus John with a printed label are Woman with a Daffodil, 1910, Girl leaning on a stick, 1910, and Thomas Hardy, 1923 (all Fitzwilliam Museum), while a watercolour, John’s Dorelia, c.1908, has the label, ‘THE CHENIL/ WHATMAN BOARDS/ In preparing these Boards/ particular care is taken to retain/ the true surface of the paper./…’ (Tate, information from Joyce Townsend).

Chenil’s distinctive palette shaped canvas mark, CHENIL/ BY THE/ TOWN HALL/ CHELSEA, has been recorded on paintings dating from the 1900s to c.1930 (Proudlove 1996). Examples on the work of Augustus John include W.B. Yeats, 1907 (Manchester Art Gallery), Sir William Nicholson, 1909 (Fitzwilliam Museum), Dorelia McNeill in the garden at Alderney Manor, 1911 (National Museum of Wales), Lady Ottoline Morrell, 1919 (National Portrait Gallery), Portrait of a Boy (Edwyn), by 1922, and Lady with a Mantilla, by 1928 (both Manchester Art Gallery). Examples on the work of William Orpen include The Angler, c.1912 (Tate, see Morgan 2008 pp.134-5), four portraits, Sir Joseph Ward, Viscount Sumner, Baron Hankey and Sir Adrian De Wiart, all c.1919, stencilled as above (all National Portrait Gallery), Kate Harrison Goodbody (Yale University Art Gallery, see Katlan 1987 p.318) and The Chinese Shawl (National Gallery of Victoria, see Payne 2007 p.66).

Marked canvases used by other artists include James Pryde's La Casa Rosa, 1911-12 (private coll., see Cecilia Powell, Rascals & Ruins: The Romantic Vision of James Pryde, Fleming-Wyfold Art Foundation, 2006, p.45), William Nicholson’s The Black Pansy, 1910 (National Gallery of Victoria, Australia, see Payne 2007 p.66) and The Hill above Harlech, c.1917 (Tate), Mark Gertler’s Gilbert Cannan and his Mill, 1916, faintly marked (Ashmolean Museum, information from Jevon Thistlewood), Lucien Pissarro’s The Thames, Hammersmith, 1921 (Sotheby’s 11 December 2006 lot 24) and Henry Tonks’ Spring Days, 1928 (Tate, information from Joyce Townsend). Also George Lambert’s Mrs A.P. Reed, 1917, and A Sergeant of the Light Horse, 1920, and James Quinn’s John Tweed (all National Gallery of Victoria, see Payne 2007 pp.66, 131). Henri Gaudier-Brzeska used one of Chenil’s sketchbooks, labeled ‘The Chenil Blue Book’ in 1914 (Tate Archive).

Sources: Augustus John, Finishing Touches, 1964, p.137; William Roberts, ‘Dealers and Galleries’, in William Roberts, Five Posthumous Essays and Other Writings, Valencia, 1990, pp.102-7, Michael Holroyd, Augustus John, 1996, pp.138-9, 200-1, 478-9. For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.

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

Charles Clifford's grandfather was the sculptor, John Charles Felix Rossi and his father, Edward, was a grocer and oilman. Charles Edward Clifford (c.1823-1903) commenced trading as an artists’ colourman in 1848, later claiming on one of his trade labels to have been established upwards of a century. He may have been referring to one of his predecessors at 30 Piccadilly: Richard and Charles Faulkner (qv), oilmen, listed at the premises 1836-9, or William Forward, oil and colourman, later artists’ colourman, listed 1840-47 (both Faulkner, 1829-38, and Forward, 1828-38, appear to have held accounts with Roberson, see Woodcock 1997). Forward had had premises in Piccadilly since at least 1812.

Canvases in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery bearing Clifford’s stencil include William Salter’s Sir Frederick Adam (Walker 1985 p.3, said to date to c.1834-40 but evidently later) and George Reid’s George Macdonald, 1868, stencilled: C.E. CLIFFORD,/ ARTISTS COLOURMAN/ 30 PICCADILLY/ OPPOSITE ST JAMES'S CHURCH/ LONDON. and Samuel Smiles, 1870s. Another marked canvas is Alfred de Dreux's Dash, chien du duc d’Aumale, 1853 (Musée Condé, Chantilly, see Labreuche 2004 p.51).

Clifford was listed as ‘artists' colourman, manufacturer of photographic materials & chemicals, and gallery of watercolour drawings’ from 1858 to 1865, and thereafter as artists' colourman. He appears to have begun selling photographic materials in the late 1850s, publishing a catalogue in about 1863 (Illustrated Catalogue of Apparatus & Materials used in the Art of Photography manufactured and prepared by C.E. Clifford, Photographic Instrument Maker, Operative Chemist, and Artists’ Colourman, with Catalogue of Materials for Oil Painting, appended to a Winsor & Newton handbook, J. Edwards (ed.), The Art of Landscape Painting in Oil Colours, 17th ed., 1863). In 1870 he advertised as a colourman and additionally as a ‘carver, gilder, looking glass and picture framemaker’ and as ‘Agent for Winsor & Newton’s and Newman’s Colours’ (The Artists’ Directory for June 1870).

Clifford changed tack again, succeeding E. Façon Watson as a picture restorer in 1877 (notice announcing succession, dated 19 February 1877, copy on National Portrait Gallery files, RP 740). This notice appeared on the reverse side of a letter heading describing Clifford as picture restorer and as ‘Carver, Gilder, Printseller, and Artists’ Colourman, to the Royal and Imperial Families of England, France, Germany, Austria, Spain, and Brazil’, an unusual claim to international connections which also appeared on his trade label (example repr. Katlan 1992 p.458).

Clifford was listed in censuses in 1861 at 18 Clifton Road East as artists’ colourman, age 38, with wife Eliza, and in 1871 at Kilburn Lodge, Middlesex, as Artists Repository, employing five men and two boys; he was still at this address in 1881 but now a picture restorer, artist (& printseller), with his wife and also three daughters age 23, 21 and 20 and two sons age 22 and 17. He died in Portsmouth, age 82, in 1903, leaving an estate worth £9,997. The artist Edward C. Clifford (1858-1910) was his son.

Clifford or most probably his successor, trading as C.E. Clifford & Co, turned to print publishing, issuing prints 1887-1907 (The Year’s Art 1888-1908). The business was carried on by William Batley until it was incorporated as C.E. Clifford & Co Ltd in 1909 (National Archives, BT 31/19040/105453). It advertised as fine art publishers and printsellers (The Year's Art 1913) and continued until voluntarily wound up in 1924 (National Archives, BT 34/3487/105453).

Sources:Proudlove 1996. Information from Clifford’s great-great-granddaughter, Hilary Leclanche, 15 May 2010, detailing Clifford’s date of death and his Rossi ancestry, as well as identifying his son, Edward C. Clifford. For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.

*B.S. Cohen, 9 Magdalen Row,Great Prescot St, London E 1844-1869, 24 Great Prescot St 1870-1899, 9 Clerkenwell Close EC 1900-1904, B.S. Cohen Ltd, 15 Clerkenwell Close 1905-1911. Pencil maker.

Barnet Solomon (or Soloman) Cohen (c.1817-90) tradedas B.S. Cohen; he was preceded in business by his father, Solomon Cohen (b. c.1782-1854?), who was listed as a pencil maker as early as 1808 and at 42 Great Prescot St from 1822 until 1844. The business later claimed to have been established in 1803 (Post Office directory, 1899).

Barnet Solomon Cohen was born in London in about 1817, on the evidence of successive censuses: in 1841 he was living with his father, Solomon, in Prescot St, both described as pencil makers; in 1851 still with his father, age 69, now retired, at 60 Acacia Road; in 1861 at St Johns Terrace as an American merchant; in 1871 at 15 St Johns Terrace as a black lead pencil manufacturer, born Whitechapel; and in 1881 at 21 Hamilton Terrace as a pencil manufacturer, age 64, with wife Eliza, age 52, and two sons and five daughters. He died in 1890, leaving an estate worth £12,967.

Cohen supplied Cumberland lead pencils to Charles Roberson & Co, 1872-1884 or later (Hamilton Kerr Institute, MS 183-1993). In 1879 Cohen’s business was listed as having won various prize medals from 1862 onwards. Cohen’s ‘Prize Drawing Pencils’, c.1891, were advertised in John Heywood’s Catalogue of Artists’ and Drawing Materials and Publications on the Fine Arts. An advertising sheet was published c.1910 for “Eurite” Drawing Pencils. The business’s premises were affected by fire in 1891 (Daily News 30 May 1891).

For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.

Added September 2017
René Coiffier, rue du Coq Honoré, Paris 1796-1809. Artists’ colourman and stationer.

Continental suppliers used by artists with British connections are treated in summary detail in this online resource. René Coiffier (c.1750-1810) is in any case discussed in detail by Neil Jeffares, Citoyen Coiffier, marchand de couleurs et de papiers in his blog, 22 February 2017.

Coiffier’s interest here is the sketchbook used by J.M.W. Turner, with printed label inside the front cover, ‘No. 121./ Rue du Coq Honoré./ COIFFIER/ Md. de Couleurs et de Papiers/ A PARIS’ (repr. 'Mountains, Looking towards St Gervais-les-Bains' 1802 (J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours) | Tate). The English diarist, Bertie Greatheed, owned one of Coiffier’s sketchbooks (see Jeffares, cited above).

ColArt, see Thomas Reeves & Son, Winsor & Newton

Joseph Cole 1788-1800,Cole & Baynham 1801-1808, Joseph Cole 1809-1827 (John Cole in 1809 Post Office directory). At 3 Loman’s Pond, Southwark 1788-1808,Loman’s Pond 1809-1827. Colourmen and varnish makers.

Joseph Cole (c.1748-1831) led a long and varied existence as a colour maker. He took as apprentices Thomas Eastment in 1772, George Finn in 1773, Clark Armstrong in 1790 and John Everingham in 1798 (Webb 2003 pp.2, 20, 21, 22). Joseph Cole, colour and varnish maker of Loman’s Pond, Southwark, was made bankrupt in 1794 (London Gazette 20 May 1794). He was Master of the Painter-Stainers’ Company in 1795.

By 1801 he was in partnership with a member of the Baynham family (see below), possibly William Baynham or his son Thomas Bingley Baynham. A small watercolour box with Cole & Baynham’s label is known, advertising the business as superfine colour preparers and varnish makers to Her Royal Highness the Princess of Wales, and offering highly improved Cake Colours, Balsam Varnishes, and every article used in Painting and Drawing (private coll.). Cole’s subsequent partnerships with John Westcote Bampfield and with John Townsend Lowther were dissolved in 1814 and 1821 respectively, in both cases as colour and varnish makers at Loman’s Pond, with Lowther being made bankrupt in 1826 (London Gazette 9 April 1814, 24 July 1821,6 May 1826).

The death of George Cole, age 58, deaf and dumb, at his brother’s house at Loman’s Pond was announced in 1820 (The Times 7 July 1820). Joseph Cole’s own death, age 83, formerly of Loman’s Pond, ‘the father of the Painter’s Company’, was announced in 1831 (The Times 7 September 1831).

Further research is required into Joseph Cole as a colour maker. He should not be confused with another individual of this name who traded as a mahogany broker and auctioneer with John Herd at 5 Albion St, Blackfriars Road, until this partnership was dissolved in 1803 (London Gazette 30 July 1803). Further research is also required on the Baynham family, who played an important role as colour makers in the 18th century. Elizabeth Emerton, widow of the colourman, Alexander Emerton (qv), apparently remarried as Mrs Baynham by 1742. Thomas Baynham, colourman of the parish of St Clements Dane, was in prison for debt in 1743 and 1748 (London Gazette 6 September 1743, 19 July 1748), and his will or that of another Thomas Baynham, colour maker of Bloomsbury, was proved in January 1771. His son, Samuel (b.1760), was apprenticed to Robert Wood in 1774 (Webb 2003 p.5).

For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.

Expanded March 2018
The Collector’s Picture Restoring Co. Ltd 1932-1936. At 12 Lawrence St, Chelsea, London 1932, 59 South Edwardes Square 1933-1937, 19 Lexham Mews, Earls Court Road W8 1935-1939. Suppliers of flexible gesso canvas.

Arthur Crossland was listed as a picture restorer in the 1935 and 1936 telephone directories but not much is known of his circumstances. He seems to have set up the Collector’s Picture Restoring Co. Ltd, which was listed in directories at 12 Lawrence St, Chelsea in 1932, and was dissolved in 1936 (London Gazette 14 January 1936). Four small sample gessoed canvas covered mounting boards, marked with the name of the Collector’s Picture Restoring Co. Ltd, can be found in the Roberson Archive, together with a price list for panels, compasses, boards and tablets, and a quotation for finished boards, dated 6 May 1932 (Hamilton Kerr Institute, miscellaneous bills and receipts file; MS 837, 838-1993).

An eight-page typescript by Crossland, ‘Habits of Paint Mixing’, 1933 (V&A National Art Library, 40.B.box, kindly examined by Lynn Roberts), giving the Collector’s Picture Restoring Co. Ltd's address at 59 South Edwardes Square, discusses painting on a white gesso ground to improve luminosity, and advertises Crossland Flexible Gesso, Crossland Panels and Solid Gesso Board.

Crossland Flexible Gesso was patented in November 1932; the provisional patent specification explained that gesso grounds can be made flexible by the incorporation into them of layers of muslin or cotton fabric (Morris 1994). Crossland’s 1936 catalogue describes Crossland Flexible Gesso as ‘normal gesso composed of Plaster of Paris that has been slaked for over three weeks, mixed with size. In this is incorporated cotton fibre which supplies the tensile strength lacking in ordinary gesso, making it so that it will not crack when bent. Cotton does not expand and contract in a contrary sense with the size as does linen, so that the inherent disintegrating factor of canvas is avoided.’ (Price list, 1936, example Tate conservation department).

The catalogue goes on to describe another product, “Reflexic” Gesso as ‘composed of a sheet of gesso containing a layer of tin foil, over which is strained a finely prepared sheet of flexible gesso. These two sheets are strained over frames in the same way as canvas, and so provides a painting ground which has all the advantages of a gesso prepared panel. It is simplicity itself to remove the picture and restrain. “Reflexic” gesso is much more easily repaired if damaged than any other known painting ground.’ Crossland stated in the catalogue of that he would be at 19 Lexham Mews every Wednesday between 5 pm and 8 pm ‘to see artists interested in gesso’, and at other times by appointment.

Gerard Brockhurst used this patented material for various works: his Jeunesse Dorée, exhibited 1934, is inscribed on the board: CROSSLAND FLEXIBLE GESSO/ PATENT No. 383755./ THE COLLECTOR’S PICTURE RESTORING CO. LTD/ STUDIO 3/ 59 SOUTH EDWARDES SQ./ KENSINGTON/ LONDON W8. (Lady Lever Art Gallery, see Morris 1994), while his Duchess of Windsor, 1939, is similarly stamped, on the blind stretcher cross bar, but with the address now: 19, LEXHAM MEWS,/ EARLS COURT ROAD,/ LONDON, W.8./ “REFLEXIC” GESSO. (National Portrait Gallery). A similar stretcher stamp, from 19 Lexham Mews, can be found on James Bateman’s Cattle Market, 1937 (Tate, information from Joyce Townsend) and another on his Haytime in the Cotswolds, by 1939 (Southampton City Art Gallery). For illustrations of this business’s canvas and stretcher stamps, see the guide British canvas, stretcher and panel suppliers’ marks: Part 2, A to D on this website.

For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.

Rewritten September 2013
Arthur Colley & Co,
88 Haverstock Hill, London NW3 1936-1966. Picture framemaker and artists’ supplier.

Arthur Colley (?1906-1999?) may possibly be the individual born in the St George Hanover Square district in 1906 and who died in Enfield in 1999. He set up in business in 1935/6, according to information supplied by his successor, Michael Carleton, to Roy Perry, picture restorer, Tate Gallery (letter, 19 June 1973, Tate archives, information from Joyce Townsend, April 2013). The following history is substantially based on this source.

It was in 1935/36 that Colley started his picture framing business at 88 Haverstock Hill and, to quote, ‘it was not long before he was being asked to make frames, which have always been of the highest quality of workmanship, for many artists, including Henry Moore and Ben Nicholson’. As to the latter, he ‘always insisted on plain wooden frames with special joinery work on the corners, and the association between Nicholson and Arthur Colley carried on until Nicholson moved away from the Hampstead area’. 

Colley stocked Winsor & Newton’s artists’ materials, and also colours from Newman and Roberson. His workshop did on occasion prepare gesso grounds for panels, using Winton 84 ins canvas, which was attached to his own stretchers. 

In the Second World War Colley undertook unspecified production work for a government ministry but at the same time assisted the Arts Council (actually, presumably CEMA as predecessor) in handling the packing and setting up of travelling exhibitions. 

From August 1965 Michael Carleton worked with Colley at 88 Haverstock Hill. He converted a property at 79 Haverstock Hill to sell antiques and to operate as an interior decorator. When the premises at 77 Haverstock Hill became available, Arthur Colley & Co moved across the road and Carleton and Colley shared adjacent premises from January 1968. Their activities were carried out under Carleton’s name from April 1973.

Artists’ materials: Marked canvases include Rodrigo Moynihan’s Objective Abstraction, c.1935-6, stamped: ARTHUR COLLEY & CO.,/ 88 HAVERSTOCK HILL, N.W.3./ ARTISTS’ MATERIALS & PICTURE FRAMER./ PHONE GULLIVER 4224. (Tate, information from Joyce Townsend) and C.R.W. Nevinson's Battersea Twilight, by 1937 (Sotheby's London 14 March 2006 lot 33).

For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.

Added March 2019
Combe & Thomson 1897-1903, Combe & Co 1904-1928 or later, 160 Buchanan St, Glasgow 1897-1928 or later. Mercantile stationers, artists’ colourman, and drawing materials furnishers.

Combe & Thomson were listed in directories from 1897, followed by Combe & Co from 1904, as mercantile stationers, artists’ colourmen, and drawing materials furnishers at 160 Buchanan St, Glasgow. The business had taken on the premises following the bankruptcy of Stuart & Brown, wholesale stationers and artists' colourmen in 1896 (Edinburgh Gazette 10 July 1896). The partnership between Alexander Combe and John Henderson Thomson was dissolved in February 1903, with Combe carrying on the business (Edinburgh Gazette 9 October 1903).

Alexander Combe (1854-1935) was born in January 1854, the son of Alexander Combe and Christina Dougal at Auchterarder, Perthshire. In census records, he was recorded in 1891 as a mercantile clerk, age 36, born Auchterarder, boarding in Glasgow, in 1901 as a stationer and employer, age 47, together with his wife, Elizabeth, living in Blythswood, Glasgow, and in 1911 as a stationer, age 57, with two young daughters, again in Blythswood. He died in 1935; his death certificate lists his two marriages, firstly to Elisabeth Walker Mackenzie, secondly Jean Allan Miller (ScotlandsPeople, Statutory registers, Deaths 644/19 826).

John Henderson Thomson (1853-1906) was born in April 1853, the son of Peter Thomson and Agnes Cuthbertson, at Port Glasgow. In census records he can be found in 1871 in Hackney, London, as a stationer’s apprentice, age 17, born Scotland, in 1881 in Gorbals, Glasgow, as a commercial traveller in stationery, with his mother Agnes and sister Sarah, in 1891 in Govan, Glasgow, as a bookbinder’s manager, age 37, with his wife Elizabeth, and in 1901 in Glasgow as a stationer and employer, age 47, with his wife, Elizabeth. He died intestate in Glasgow in 1906, leaving effects worth only £210; his wife was recorded in the probate documentation as Elizabeth Lindsay Davidson.

Trade as artists’ colourmen: Combe & Thomson advertised extensively in 1899 and 1900 as suppliers of drawing instruments and materials, giving their address as ‘opposite Athenaeum’, where evening classes were held (e.g. Kirkiktilloch Herald 2 August 1899). Combe & Thomson, followed by Combe & Co, had an account with Roberson, 1897-1908 (Woodcock 1997). Both Combe & Thomson and Combe & Co were occasional publishers.

For an illustration of Combe & Co’s canvas stamp, see British canvas, stretcher and panel suppliers’ marks: Part 13, Scotland on this website.

Added March 2013
Paul Contet,
34 rue Lafayette, Paris 1886-1915 or later. Manufacturing artists’ colourman.

There was a Contet or Conté listed as a colourman at 6 rue Feydeau, 1851-80 (see Roth-Meyer in Sources below). In 1886 Contet took over the business at 34 rue Lafayette of Madame Latouche, widow of the colour merchant and moden picture seller, Louis Latouche (1829-84) (Callen 2000 p.103, see Sources below). Contet advertised in 1888 his ‘Fabrique de Couleurs Fines’, offering ‘Toiles, Panneaux et Cartons a peindre, Attirails de campagne pour Artistes, couleurs anglaises et francaises, Blocs anglais pour l’aquarelle et Albums de tous genres. Vente et Location de Tableaux et Aquarelles’ (advertisement in Etienne Arago, Notices des peintures, sculptures et dessins de l'école moderne exposés dans les galeries du Musée National du Luxembourg, 1888, accessed through Gallica). He is presumably Paul Contet, born in 1859 at Angliers, Marne, who was living at 30 rue Provence, close to rue Lafayette, his occupation given as ‘Couleurs’, in 1891 (Paris electoral roll). As Paul Louis Victor Contet at 30 rue Provence, son of Victor René Contet, he married for a second time in 1897 (Paris marriage banns).

Materials used by artists based in Britain: Lucien Pissarro, like his more famous father Camille, used Contet for materials and many canvases, including Thierceville Road, Early Spring,1893, and The Fairy,1894 (both Ashmolean Museum, information from Jevon Thistlewood) and April, Epping, 1894, stencilled as below. Contet first appears in Lucien’s correspondence with his father in 1887 and continues to do so until 1901 (Anne Thorold, ed., The Letters of Lucien to CamillePissarro, 1883-1903, 1993, pp.89, 91, 160 etc). In 1893 Camille told his son that he had seen his work at Contet’s (John Rewald, ed., Camille Pissarro Letters to His Son Lucien, 4th ed., 1980, p.225). Works on canvas marked Contet by other members of the Pissarro family include Felix Pissarro’sPoplar Trees andThe River, both by 1897 when Felix died, and Ludovic Rodolphe Pissarro’sStill Life with a Green Jar (both Ashmolean Museum, information from Jevon Thistlewood).

For an illustration of Contet’s oval format canvas stencil, see Camille Pissarro's Boulevard Montmartre, 1897, marked: TOILES à PEINDRE & COULEURS FINES/ P. CONTET/ PARIS/ 34, Rue Lafayette, 34 (National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne).

Sources: Clotilde Roth-Meyer, Les Marchands de couleurs à Paris au XIXe siècle, PhD thesis, Université Paris Sorbonne, 2004 (for early addresses); Anthea Callen, The Art of Impressionism: Painting technique & the making of modernity, 2000; Stéphanie Constantin, ‘The Barbizon Painters: A Guide to their Suppliers’, Studies in Conservation, vol.46, 2001, pp.56, 64-5). See www.ancestry.co.uk for the Paris electoral roll and marriage banns.

Cooke, London.Drawing master, crayon and miniature painter, pastel maker.

Cooke described his drawing process and a preparation for fixing chalk drawings to Joseph Farington, 1801, referring to pastels made by him and to his residence in Bath for several years (Farington vol.4, p.1495).

For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.

Charles Osborn Cooper, see James Newman

*Edward Cooper (active 1682, died 1725), The Three Pigeons, Bedford St, Covent Garden, London by 1686-1725, also the Three Pigeons, Half Moon St (a continuation of Bedford St) 1712, 1720, 1725. Publisher, printseller, picture auctioneer, artists’ supplier.

A leading printseller and publisher, recognised as an authority on the fine arts, and a member of the Virtuosi of St Luke, 1714. Details of Edward Cooper’s activities as a printseller can be found on the British Museum collection database.

Edward Cooper also supplied colours. As early as 1686, in a print advertisement from the Three Pigeons in Bedford St, he was advertising ‘all necessary for Painting or Glass, or otherwise’ (London Gazette 19 August 1686). His colours were mentioned c.1699-1700, ‘Most of the Collours a foresaid you may Buy in Little Bladders and the rest in powders with oyles, [shells] and varnish att Mr Coopers at the sign of the three pidjohns in Bradford (sic) Street, a print shop’ (John Martin, manuscript instruction manual, see Ayres 1985 p.130). He was possibly the Cooper, who formulated a picture varnish which featured among the products sold by Nathan Drake (qv).

Cooper retired in 1723. At his death in 1725, an inventory was taken, listing proceeds from his estate and uncollected debts (National Archives, PROB 3/24/190). No doubt much of the proceeds related to his activities as a publisher and printseller. It is not possible to tell whether the following debts in the inventory relate to the supply of artists’ materials: debts received, ‘Mr Gibson’ (Thomas Gibson??); debts due, ‘Mr Lutterell’ (Edward Lutterell?), ‘Mr Parmentier’ (Jacques Parmentier), ‘Mr Dahl’ (Michael Dahl, the most significant debtor listed here at £32.2s) and ‘Mr Wooton’s man’ (referring to John Wootton?).

His shop and household goods were sold in 1725, not only his copper plates, prints and pictures, but also ‘several sorts of Materials belonging to Painting and Printing: As, fine Colours, Ultramarine, Carmine, Lake, Arnota, Primed Cloths, &c’ (Daily Post 8 May 1725). For Peter Pelham’s mezzotint portrait of Cooper, 1724, after Jan van der Vaart (example in National Portrait Gallery).

Sources: Clayton 1997 p.3. For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.

*Garth Cooper, 15 Cheapside, Derby from 1895, 12 Cheapside 1935. Paint and colour merchant, also artists’ materials dealer.

Garth Cooper (1869-1948), or Gurth as he was often known, was listed in censuses in 1881, age 11, the youngest but one of seven children of a farmer living at Normanton in Derbyshire, in 1901, age 31, as a paint and colour manufacturer, living with his mother in Derby, and in 1911 as an oil and colour merchant, and an employer, living in Derby with his wife and daughter. He was recorded at death in 1948 as Gurth Cooper, age 78.

A marked canvas has been recorded, 1916.

For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.

Updated September 2017, expanded March 2018
Louis Cornelissen 1861-1883, L. Cornelissen & Son 1884-1977, 1979, incorporated as L. Cornelissen & Son Ltd 1980. At 22 Great Queen St, London WC2 1861-1987, 105 Great Russell St WC1 from 1988. Lithographic colour maker 1862-1922, artists’ colourman from 1881.

Louis Cornelissen, the founder of the business, is said to have been a Belgian lithographer living in Paris who left following the 1848 revolution, setting up in Drury Lane, initially dealing in lithographic colours and supplies, and reputedly moving to Great Queen St in 1855 (de la Hey, see Sources below; Proudlove 1996). Indeed, Cornelissen’s early 20th-century catalogues claim that the business was established in London in 1855. Louis Cornelissen is not found in the 1851 census, hardly surprising if his daughter was born in Paris that year (see below). The business was not listed in Post Office directories until 1862. It won prize medals in 1867 and 1872 (Post Office directory, 1879). Cornelissen was first listed as an artists’ colourman in 1881, and advertised as such from the mid-1880s, also offering varnishes and transfer papers. However, the business’s primary directory listing remained as a lithographic colour maker and then as a lithographic materials dealer until 1922. It had an account with Roberson, 1881-4 (Woodcock 1997), and subsequently.

The Cornelissen family history has been traced as follows: Louis Dieudonne Cornelissen (Paris c.1818/20-1889 Chelsea), artists’ colourman, married Marian (b. c.1826). He became a naturalised British citizen on 14 August 1872. They had a daughter, Mary Elizabeth (Paris 1851-1921) who married the artist John Seymour Lucas in 1877, and a son Louis Dieudonne Jules Cornelissen (Holloway 1856-1942 Bromley), listed as draughtsman in 1881 and artists’ colourman in 1892, who married firstly Elizabeth (1868-89) and had a son Louis Douglas Cornelissen (1888-1974), and married secondly 1892 Emily Kallmeier (1863-1938) and had a son Leonard (‘Len’) Seymour Dieudonne Cornelissen (1894-1977). These details are largely taken from a former family history website, ‘Claire Brewer's Family Tree’, and have mostly been confirmed from other records.

The business closed in 1977 at the death of Len Cornelissen, the last in the family. The goodwill and stock were sold later that year to Stavros Mihalarias (b.1943), an eminent Icon restorer and dealer (Tate, Cornelissen files, see Sources below). Mihalarias already knew of Cornelissen’s through his puchases of pigments from the business. He approached Nicholas Walt (b.1942) to be his business partner and Cornelissen’s reopened in 1979 (see advertisement, The Times 13 October 1978). Walt and Mihalarias took it in turns to 'oversee' the shop since they both had other jobs. Eventually Stavros concluded that he disliked not the products but the business of managing staff etc and Walt took over his share in Cornelissen’s, allowing Stavros to return to Athens where he has continued his restoration and dealing work. These details have kindly been supplied by Nicholas Walt, November 2017.

The business moved from Great Queen St when the lease expired in 1988 to shop premises at Great Russell St, with a depot at 1a Hercules St N7. Cornelissen’s continues as one of three historic businesses listed in the Companies House register, as at February 2005, as incorporated at 105 Great Russell St, London WC1B 3RY: Brodie and Middleton Ltd, incorporated 1945, L. Cornelissen and Son Ltd, incorporated 1980, and C. Roberson & Co. Ltd, incorporated 1985.

Cornelissen’s suppliers: Two surviving ledgers, a purchase ledger (1880-7) and an order ledger (1888-94), provide an excellent idea of the business’s suppliers, many continental, at the point at which Cornelissen’s diversified to trade as an artists’ colourman in addition to its historic role as a lithographic colour maker. Looking firstly at the purchase ledger, with suppliers’ addresses in the front, it is clear that Cornelissen sourced some materials from businesses in London or from Austrian or German firms with London offices. These included unspecified goods from Lechertier Barbe & Co (qv), 1886-7, and C. Roberson & Co (qv), 1886-7. In the following listing businesses are London-based or had a London office unless otherwise specified, and were suppliers for most of the period covered by the ledger again unless otherwise specified.

Canvas in A, B and C grades came in considerable quantities from Nathaniel Lionel Nathan (qv); canvas in rolls and some colours from Winsor & Newton (qv) from 1883, canvas and papers from the established Paris business, A. Lepage Ainé from 1882, and specialist papers from Varré in Paris from 1885 and C. Angerer & Göschel in Vienna from 1886. Papers also came in large quantities from W.H. Willis & Co, Samuel Jones & Co from 1882, Spalding & Hodge and occasionally from Grosvenor Chater & Co, 1882-3, and John Dickinson & Co (including an order for the Colonial Office). Drawing boards, academy boards, crayon paper and a few colours came from George Rowney & Co (qv) from 1882, and Hook easels in 1887 from Twisden Wilkins (qv). Folding palettes came from C. Barnard in 1883 and unspecified goods from a successor business Edward Barnard, listed in directories as a lining frame maker, from 1886. Palette knives and tools were sourced from Edwin Terry in Sheffield.

Colours were bought in great bulk from Stotz & Winter and from the successor business, Haeffner Hilpert & Co; they were also bought in bulk from H. Hodson & Co. Other colours and inks came from Singer & Grimont in Paris from 1884. Very large quantities of unspecified goods, probably mainly colours, were purchased from Dr F. Schoenfeld & Co at Düsseldorf from 1882. Eatwell’s medium and flake white came from William Badger, late Eatwell (qv), 1884-5, flake white also came from Bongers de Rath & Co, 1883-6, and turpentine and linseed oil from Sir W.A. Rose & Co. Gold and metal leaf came from Paul Spiro in Berlin.

 

Printmaking supports, inks and tools came from Benjamin Winstone & Son, copper plates from R. Pontifex & Co (qv) in 1883 and then from E. Bridault in Paris from 1885, engravers’ tools from Schmautz Freres et Fils in Paris from 1883, dabbers for plate printing from Hughes & Kimber (qv), 1884-6, lithographic varnish from John Kidd & Co, lithographic crayons from J. & A. Lemercier in Paris from 1885, and sponges and chamois leathers from M.L. Lawson & Co.

Brushes and sketching paper from G.C. Beissbarth Son (qv), 1882-3, brushes and Indian ink from the Artist’s Color Manufacturing Company (see C.F. Maret & Co Ltd), 1882-4, and very large quantities of brushes, also easels and boxes, from the leading Paris brush makers, Pitet ainé, from 1885.

Pencils in considerable quantities, tracing cloth and rubbers were purchased from A.W. Faber (qv) from 1882, chalks, pencils and china palettes from L. & C. Hardtmuth (qv) from 1882 and pastels and some liquid gouache from A. Lefranc in Paris, later Lefranc & Cie, from 1885.

The order ledger, in the same hand as the puchase ledger, presumably that of the business’s founder, Louis Cornelissen, shows an increasing emphasis on continental suppliers in the late 1880s and early 1890s, to the exclusion of well-known British companies. Cornelissen’s continued to place large orders with Pitet ainé for brushes, sketching boxes and palettes, Dr Fr. Schoenfeld for oil and water colours, Lefranc & Cie for boxes of pastels, Lemercier & Cie for lithographic ink and crayons, Tochon Lepage, successor to Lepage Ainé, for Bristol boards, Ingres papers and drawing albums and Paul Spiro for gold leaf. New suppliers included E. Wolff & Son for creta levis, chalks, pencils etc, Soehnée in Paris for varnish, M. Duroziez in Paris for Siccatif de Harlem and L. Naze in Paris for etching tools and burnishers from 1890.

Cornelissen’s products: Cornelissen’s advertised in The Year's Art as sole agents for Dr Schoenfeld’s oil and watercolours, and as manufacturers and importers of French colours and lithographic materials (1889, and subsequently), advertising petroleum colours (1891, and subsequently). Schoenfeld produced a guide in English to using these petroleum colours (copy, Tate conservation dept, possibly with a Cornelissen provenance).

Cornelissen’s trade catalogue, c.1901-14, describes the business as ‘Colours, Ink, Varnish and Lithographic Material Manufacturers, Artists’ Drawing and Paintings Materials’ and offers, as sole agents, Dr. Fr. Schoenfeld’s & Co’s oil colours in tubes, and moist colours in tubes and pans.

Cornelissen’s trade catalogue, 1917 or later, advertised superfine oil colours manufactured by L. Cornelissen & Son, oils, varnishes, siccatives etc, Dr Fr. Schoenfeld & Co’s extra fine watercolours, Winsor & Newton’s superfine moist watercolours, drawing inks, process black and white, waterproof liquid colours, Bourgeois Ainé’s superfine watercolours in cakes, Lukas tempera colours manufactured by Dr Fr. Schoenfeld & Co, gouache colours manufactured by Bourgeois Ainé, poster colours, extra fine dry colours, artists’ prepared canvas, canvas boards for oil painting, millboards prepared for tempera painting, academy boards etc, brushes for oil painting and watercolours, sketch boxes, palettes, easels, various papers, boards, pencils, Lefranc’s superfine French soft pastels etc (Artists’ Materials, 1917 or later, 36pp).

Cornelissen’s customers: Cornelissen’s provided canvases and stretchers for works by various artists, many with continental experience and so perhaps receptive to a supplier which sourced its materials from the Continent. From the late 19th century for Leon Little’s Sir Henry Rider Haggard, 1886 (National Portrait Gallery), John McClure Hamilton’s Edward Onslow Ford, 1893, and Matthew Ridley Corbet, 1893, both stencilled: L. CORNELISSEN & SON/ 22, GT. QUEEN ST./ LONDON. W.C. (both National Portrait Gallery) and George Clausen’s Mrs Herbert Roberts, 1894 (Walker Art Gallery, see Morris 1996). James McNeill Whistler’s watercolour, Au bord de la mer, c.1885, is stamped: L. CORNELISSEN, 22, GREAT QUEEN ST. W.C (Hunterian Art Gallery, Glasgow). For illustrations of this business’s canvas stencils, see the guide British canvas, stretcher and panel suppliers’ marks: Part 2, A to D on this website.

From the 20th century, Ethel Sands’s Tea with Sickert, c.1911-2 (Tate, see ‘The Camden Town Group in Context’, research project, at www.tate.org.uk), Rex Whistler for his Tate Britain restaurant wall paintings, 1927 (letter from artist to Charles Aitken, Tate Director, about Cornelissen making the canvas, Tate Archive) and Stephen Bone’s Sir Hugh Walpole, late 1930s (National Portrait Gallery). Walter Sickert was a regular customer, 1894-1934: marked examples include Aubrey Beardsley, 1894, The Salute, c.1901-3, Ennui, 1913-4, The Seducer, c.1929-30, and Variation on Peggy, 1934-5 (all Tate, see Completing the Picture 1982 p.69, Morgan 2008 pp.134-5, and ‘The Camden Town Group in Context’, research project, at www.tate.org.uk), The Village Stores, Chagford, c.1916 (Sotheby’s 10 March 2005 lot 1) and La Favorita, c.1930-1, and My Awful Dad, c.1934 (both Sotheby’s 11 November 2009 lots 149, 148).

Derek Jarman has left a description recalling his memories of the business from the 1960s, ‘A trip to Cornelissen in Great Queen Street, a shop that had been there for 200 years, with jars of pigment glinting like jewels in the semi-dark, where I bought the colours to make my own paint‘ (Jarman 1994 p.5). A rather different impression can be gained from the recorded memories of William Toms (d.1989), an employee of the business, 1920-55, and subsequently, who recalled serving Walter Sickert (John Londei, Shutting up Shop, 2007, pp.6, 129). Cornelissen’s Rose Madder was among the pigments found in Francis Bacon’s studio at his death (Margarita Cappock, Francis Bacon's Studio, 2005, p.213).

Sources: Cornelissen files including ledgers (see above) and catalogues from 1899 (Tate, with thanks to Joyce Townsend). Celia de la Hey, ‘Pigments of the Imagination’, Landscape, April 1988, pp.76-9. For Stavros Mihalarias, accessed November 2017. For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.

Updated September 2014, March 2018
Cowen & Waring by 1836-1837, George Waring 1837-1839, Waring & Dimes 1839-1842, Dimes & Co1842-1843, Dimes & Elam 1843-1845, Frederick Dimes 1846-1847.At91 Great Russell St, London 1836-1847. Artists’ colourmen.

In quick order, the Cowen & Waring partnership at 91 Great Russell St went through several transformations, as George Waring in 1837, Waring & Dimes 1839, Dimes & Co 1842, Dimes & Elam 1843 and Frederick Dimes 1846.

Cowen & Waring: The partnership, Cowen & Waring, advertised their ‘newly-invented India Rubber Canvass for Oil Painting, approved and patronised by the most eminent artists of the United Kingdom’, singling out its durability and flexibility, describing it as capable of resisting damp and mildew and claiming that cracking was entirely prevented by the nature of the canvas surface; this product was sold by them and by Ackermann and Reeves (The Times 13 and 20 August 1836). Its history has recently been explored by Pascal Labreuche (see Sources below). An example of such a canvas with Cowen & Waring’s stamp is John Linnell’s J.M.W. Turner, 1838, marked: [royal coat of arms]/ COWEN & WARINGS/ Newly Invented/ CAOUTCHOUC/ INDIA RUBBER CANVAS/ 91 Gt Russell St/ BLOOMSBURY (National Portrait Gallery). For an illustration, see the guide British canvas, stretcher and panel suppliers’ marks: Part 2, A to D on this website.By 1837 this canvas was available in America, where however it did not meet the immediate approval of the artist, John Neagle, because of cracking: ‘I have recently tried 5 pieces of India Rubber canvas prepared in London by Corven & Waring and find that although it is as pliant as a glove & may resist the injurious effects of contraction & expansion on the back which takes place with the ordinarily prepared stuffs, yet I find that it will not answer.’ The canvas had cracked in the sun, although some less thickly coated samples seem to have been excellent (Mayer 2011 pp.110-1). The production and use of these canvases appears to have been restricted to the 1830s and 1840s (Carlyle 2001 pp.170-1). Cowen & Waring also marketed prepared mahogany panels, used by J.S. Cotman (Proudlove 1988 p.153).

The partnership between Lawrence Philip Cowen (c.1806-1890) and George Waring (b. c.1807/11) was dissolved in June 1837 (London Gazette 6 June 1837). It has not been found in trade directories. The business has sometimes been described as Gower & Waring, trading from 1832 to 1837 (Carlyle 2001 p.181 n.12), but no such partnership has been traced. George Waring had an account with Roberson from Great Russell St, as G. Waring, April 1838-February 1839 (Woodcock 1997) and he was recorded at this address, age 30, in the 1841 census (ages were rounded down to the nearest five in this census).

In censuses, Lawrence Cowen was recorded in 1841 in Lambeth as a wholesale colourman, age 55 in error, in 1861 in Amwell as a chemical colour manufactory, age 55, and in 1871 in Hackney as a colour manufacturer, age 65. He appears to have been the individual listed as L. Cowen, artists' colourman, at 3 Tavistock Row 1833, 43 Maiden Lane, Covent Garden 1834-5, 26 Bow St 1836, 17 Newman St 1837, and variously as Lawrence Cowen, L.P. Cowen and Philip L. Cowen at 7 Southampton St, Strand 1838-40 (taking out insurance with Sun Fire in 1839) and Red Lion Court, White Hart St, Drury Lane 1843. ‘L. Cowen’ had an account with Roberson from Southampton St, July 1837-July 1839 (Woodcock 1997; the account closure date is listed as 1829, presumably in error for 1839), for example purchasing a large quantity of brushes from 7 Southampton St in August 1837 (Hamilton Kerr Institute, MS.406-1993). ‘L.P. Cowen’ had an account from 8 Bretts Buildings, Camberwell 1840-1. Lawrence Philip Cowen was imprisoned for debt in 1855, when described as foreman to an artists’ colourman (London Gazette 15 May 1855). He sold various prints and drawings to the British Museum in 1884, including Leonhard Heberlein’s drawing, The Rape of Europa, 1626 (British Museum, Dept of Prints and Drawings, Bill Book, vol.2, item 119). He died in Sydenham in 1890, leaving an estate of £200.

Waring & Dimes: The partnership of Waring & Dimes was active by 1839 when a theft of goods from their premises was reported (The Times 17 August 1839, information from Wendy Cope). The business advertised in The Art-Union, ‘Anti-tube bladders of colour’ (January 1841 p.19, and subsequently, with editorial article March 1841 p.49); prepared canvas with India rubber grounds, madder lake and drawing materials (February 1841 p.39, and subsequently), and metallic zinc tablets (December 1841 p.207, and subsequently). Waring & Dimes had an account with Roberson, 1841 (Woodcock 1997). The dissolution of the partnership between George Waring and Frederick Dimes was announced in The Art-Union in August 1842, stating that the business would be continued under the name of Dimes and Co. An example of their stamped canvas, apparently exported to France, is Joseph Court’s Pauline Hortet, 1844, marked: WARING & DIMES/ MANUFACTURERS,/ 91 G. Russell St./ BLOOMSBURY/ LONDON/ India Rubber Prepared/ CANVAS (private coll., Paris, repr. Labreuche, figs.3-5, see Sources below). Thomas Baker of Leamington used Waring & Dimes’s boracic silica medium in 1841 (see www.thomasbakerofleamington.com ).

Dimes & Elam: A further partnership, that of Dimes & Elam, had an account with Roberson, March 1843 (Woodcock 1997). It advertised in September 1843, featuring canvas prepared with India rubber grounds, moist watercolours, Turnbull's drawing boards, Rand's patent collapsible tube filled with oil colours (The Art-Union September 1843 p.252). Subsequent advertisements featured fresco colours (January 1844 p.25), Pyne’s MacGuelp, ‘so strongly recommended by Mr. Pyne in the Art-Union for July’ (August 1844 p.202) and reduced price oil colours and canvases (June 1845 p.200), the price reductions perhaps a prelude to the dissolution of the partnership between Frederick Dimes and George Elam, which was reported later that year (London Gazette 7 October 1845).

Frederick Dimes (1813-79) continued to trade for only a short while. A sale of ‘the entire stock of artists’ materials of Messrs. Dimes and Elam’ was advertised by Christie & Manson for 24 February 1846 (Daily News 5 February 1846, information from Wendy Cope), consisting of ‘prepared canvasses, panels and millboards, easels, brushes, oil and water colours in bottles and boxes, pencils, portfolios, sketching materials, drawing paper, and sketch books, and every other article connected with the profession of the Fine Arts; also utensils, consisting of canvass frames, dies, and stones, and a collection of water-colour drawings, engravings, and lithographs.’

Dimes was listed at 91 Great Russell St in the 1841 census as age 27, meaning that we can identify him with some confidence with the individual of this name recorded in the 1861 census, by then described as Artist Teacher of Drawing, age 47. His life history has been traced by a descendant, Wendy Cope (information kindly provided September 2017). He was the son of Charles and Susanna Dimes; his father was a haberdasher and draper in Holborn and he himself became a Freeman of the Haberdashers’ Company in 1835. Subsequent to the demise of his business as a colourman, he was active as a stationer in Notting Hill in 1853, as an artist and drawing teacher in Winchester, 1857-64, and as an artist in Mornington Crescent, 1865-6, before moving to Liverpool, 1871-9. He exhibited paintings at the British Institution and the Society of British Artists from time to time, 1838-66.

Several Dimes & Elam marked supports are known from the 1840s. Examples include W.J. Müller’s Burial Ground, Smyrna, exh.1845, marked: DIMES & ELAM/ MANUFACTURER/ RUSSELL ST/…/ LONDON (Manchester Art Gallery), W.P. Frith's The Village Pastor, 1845, stamped panel (Sudley, Liverpool, see Morris 1996), Henry Bright’s Grove Scene, 1847, stamped: DIMES & ELAM/ Manufacturers/ Old Russel St./ Bloomsbury/ London (Norwich Castle Museum, see Bright 1973 p.5), William Bonnar’s Self-portrait, stamped millboard from 91 Great Russell St (National Gallery of Scotland, information from Helen Smailes), Edwin Landseer’s Lady Cecilia Lennox at Gordon Castle, stencilled: DIMES & ELAM,/ MANUFACTURERS,/ 91 GT. RUSSELL ST./ BLOOMSBURY,/ LONDON. (Goodwood House) and the unknown E.M.’s Edward and William Brown, stencilled: DIMES & ELAM./ MANUFACTURERS/ 91 GT RUSSELL ST./ BLOOMSBURY,/ LONDON. (National Gallery of Victoria). For an illustration of this business’s panel and canvas stencil, see the guide British canvas, stretcher and panel suppliers’ marks: Part 2, A to D on this website.

From the 1850s, John Linnell’s The Purchased Flock, 1850, stencilled panel: DIMES & ELAM,/ MANUFACTURERS,/ 91 GT. RUSSELL ST./ BLOOMSBURY,/ LONDON. (Christie’s South Kensington 15 November 2012 lot 122) and George Bernard O'Neill's Market Day, 1856, stamped panel (Sudley, Liverpool, see Morris 1996).

Three artists used 91 Great Russell St as an accommodation address or had lodgings on the premises: C.M. Aldis in 1841, Ambrosini Jerome in 1843 and 1845 and W. Ridleley (or Riley) in 1844, according to the list of exhibitors’ addresses in the Royal Academy annual exhibition catalogues.

Sources: Carlyle 2001, p.170, 181, 281 (n.12, based on work by Cathy Proudlove); Pascal Labreuche, ‘India Rubber Painting Grounds in Britain and France in the Nineteenth Century’, Studies in Conservation, vol.56, 2011, pp.14-30; London Metropolitan Archives, Sun Fire Office policy registers, 570/1308594 For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.

*E.W. Craig, 5 Providence Row, Leeds 1794, Queens Square 1809. Drawing master and watercolour supplier.

Edwin William Craig (c.1777-1812), the son of James Craig, was christened on 30 July 1786 at St Peter, Leeds, but was born several years previously. He advertised in 1794 his school for drawing and fancy painting, as well as his watercolours, which had ‘met the Approbation of some of the first Artists in the Metropolis… as superior in Brilliancy, and much more pleasant to Use than any others offered to the Public’ (Leeds Intelligencer). Craig’s trade card advertised ‘Craig’s Fine Prismatic and Compound Water Colours’.

James Craig was listed as a drawing master in Providence Row by 1800; he moved to premises in Queens Square and was joined by E.W. Craig by 1809. Edwin William Craig of Queens Square was buried, age 25, in 1812 at St John the Evangelist, Leeds.

Sources: Terry Friedman, The Leeds Art Galleries take this opportunity to acquaint the publick with a large sortment of Engrav’d Cards… of Trades-men… in the County of Yorkshire, exh.cat., 1976, no.13.

**Thomas Creswick, 25 Basing Lane, London by 1798-1811,16 Skinner St, Snow Hill 1811-1832, 4 Chandos St, Covent Garden (‘four doors from Bedford St’) 1832-1840. Card, pasteboard and paper maker, wholesale and retail stationer.

Thomas Creswick (c.1774-1840) was preceded at 25 Basing Lane as a paper and pasteboard warehouse by James Creswick, perhaps his father, who was in business by 1789 and at 25 Basing Lane by 1796 (Maxted 1977; Lowndes directory, 1796) There was also an ‘Edward Cresswick’ active as a papermaker or paper warehouse at 73 Tooley St in 1784 and 1785, according to Andrew’s directory.

Thomas Creswick rented Hatfield paper mill in Hertfordshire in 1796, purchasing it a few years later and maintaining it until 1839 (Ian Dye, ‘William Balston’s in-laws: the Vallance Family’, The Quarterly: The Journal of the British Association of Paper Historian, May 2003, no.46, p.35). Creswick later stated that in paying £1600 a year in excise duty in 1820, he was paying ‘a greater sum than any other two-vat Paper Mills in the Kingdom’ (Richard Hills, ‘Papermaking in Hertfordshire’, The Quarterly: The Journal of the British Association of Paper Historian, July 2006, no.59, p.2).

Thomas Creswick was listed in Basing Lane until the 1811 edition of Holden’s London directory where he is described as a wholesale dealer in paper, pasteboards, drawing boards, cards, etc. He took out insurance with the Sun Fire office as a stationer at 25 Basing Lane between 1803 and 1811, generally as a card manufacturer or as a dealer in pasteboards, and additionally taking out insurance on 20 Basing Lane in 1803 and on a property in Back Road, Islington, near the weighbridge, where John Peacock, pasteboard manufacturer, was the occupier. The Islington property would appear to have been the horse-powered mill where Creswick had pasteboards made up (Peter Bower, ‘Turner’s Use of Papers and Boards as Supports for Oil Sketches’, The Quarterly: The Journal of the British Association of Paper Historian, April 2004, no.50, p.39).

Creswick moved to 16 Skinner St, Snow Hill in 1811, when he advertised as a dealer in paper, pasteboards, cards, drawing paper and Bristol drawing boards, announcing reduced prices on various products including his ‘Improved Rough Drawing Paper’ for artists (Morning Post 10 December 1811). He took out insurance on his premises in Skinner St as a stationer between 1816 and 1821, sometimes described as a dealer in rags or as a paste board manufacturer. His invoice paper in 1822 featured a view of the facade of these premises (British Museum, repr. Krill 2002 p.214).

Creswick advertised his improved smooth drawing paper and his ‘Crayon Paper manufactured to order, of any Colour or Tint’ (Morning Post 10 December 1811). By 1812 he was promoting his superior playing cards, as well as rolled writing papers, and in 1813 his improved rough drawing paper, with the name ‘Creswick’ stamped on each sheet (The Times 24 September 1812, Morning Post 23 January 1813). Creswick advertised his playing cards at reduced price in 1815 and also his improved rolled drawing and writing papers (The Times 9 January 1815, and elsewhere). He used his trade card from 16 Skinner St as a card maker and wholesale stationer to advertise as ‘The only manufacturer of satin tinted cards, paper and Bristol boards’.

A handbill produced by Creswick from 16 Skinner St, probably dating to the 1810s (British Museum, repr. Krill 2002 p.215), provides details of his rolled paper for writing and drawing, produced using his newly invented machine. He claimed that the largest sizes of his drawing paper ‘will not blot throughout the whole Surface, with the Advantage, that most Colours may be wiped clean from the Paper by a wet Sponge’. He also advertised his improved rough drawing paper for landscapes and noted that while his papers were manufactured without a watermark, each sheet of his drawing paper was stamped with his name.

In his advertising sheet dating to about 1832, Creswick informed his customers that he had removed his ‘Warehouse and Manufactory’ to larger and more commodious premises at 4 Chandos St, ‘where he has now room enough for the sale of Paper of every variety, as well as the goods of his own Production’. As well as writing paper and playing cards, he offered various of his own papers, including ‘prepared smooth and rough surface’ white drawing papers, ‘tinted and coloured Drawing Papers, Originally invented by him with prepared Surface… All Colours, of the various sizes, also White, Satined or Glazed’, ‘crayon and mounting papers… hard or soft… of T.C.’s own manufacture; the colours waranted not to fade’, and ‘Real Silk Crayon Paper. Imperial’. He also offered boards, including ‘Drawing Boards, From T. Creswick’s own papers. With improved prepared surface…’, also available tinted and coloured, and embossed, specifying the number of sheets thick, from 2 to 12, for various sizes; he also offered ‘Second or Bristol Drawing Boards, Royal, from 2 to 12 sheets thick (Thomas Creswick, Paper Maker and Card Maker..., List of Writing and Drawing Papers, playing cards, message cards, coloured papers, tinted papers, drawing boards, pasteboards, etc.., 1832?, copy in British Library, 1487.w.5.(26)).

Creswick was appointed as manufacturer of paper and cards to William IV in 1831 (National Archives, LC 3/70 p.22) and he advertised as such in 1834 (Morning Chronicle 28 July 1834). Thomas Creswick died at 12 Clarendon Place, Maida Vale in September 1840, age 66, described as cardmaker and stationer of Chandos St (Gentleman's Magazine, 1840, vol.168, p.553). In his lengthy will as a wholesale stationer of Chandos St, made 10 July 1833 and proved 24 October 1840, he appointed his wife Sarah and three nephews as his executors, making provision for her, his daughter Mary Ann Miller, his brothers John and William, and William’s blind son Thomas, also allowing for the sale of his stock-in-trade, machinery and leases.

Artists using Creswick’s products: Peter Bower has explored the use by artists of Creswick’s papers, including sheets watermarked 1813, 1816 and 1818 (Peter Bower, ‘Peter DeWint and Thomas Creswick’s Paper’, in John Lord (ed.), Peter DeWint 1784-1849: ‘For the common observer of life and nature’, 2007, pp.71-7). Examples by De Wint include Landscape with Church and Rainbow, watermarked: CRESWICK/ 1818 (Victoria and Albert Museum, repr. Krill 2002 p.217) and Stockbridge Hall, mid-1830s or later, blind stamp: IMPROVED/ DRAWG. PAPER/ ROUGH/ THOMAS CRESWICK (Lady Lever Art Gallery, see Jessica Feather, British watercolours and drawings: Lord Leverhulme’s collection in the Lady Lever Art Gallery, 2010, p.82).

J.M.W. Turner used Creswick’s paper for some of his watercolours, including Valley with Distant Mountains, watermarked 1818, and Town in Valley with Mountains, possibly Geneva, 1836 or 1838 (both Tate), as did John Sell Cotman (Peter Bower, Turner’s Later Papers, 1999, pp.108, 119-20, 131-2). Such was the popularity of Creswick’s drawing papers that ‘Imitation Creswick’ was marketed after his death.

John Linnell purchased a half gross of 4-sheet boards from ‘Creswick’ for 18s.11d in 1839, apparently for mounting his earlier publication, Michelangelo’s Frescoes in the Sistine Chapel (Fitzwilliam Museum, Linnell account book, MS 22-2000).

Sources: Guildhall Library, Records of Sun Fire Office, 1803-11, vols 426 no.750107, 438 no.798482, 442 no.812464, 442 no.814089, 447 no.816598, 449 no.852794; 1816-21, vol.466 no.919707, 467 no.919251, 468 no.922797, 473 no.934091, 473 no.944757, 473 no.944758, 479 no.956114, 480 no.960127, 485 no.972031, 489 no.985968. For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.

Arthur Crossland, see The Collector’s Picture Restoring Co. Ltd

*John Culbert, 86 Long Acre, London 1799, 53 Long Acre 1802, 54 Long Acre 1803-1815 and possibly later. Artists’ colourman.

Culbert is a Scottish name but there is otherwise no indication as to John Culbert‘s origins. John Culbert (?c.1760-1828?) is perhaps the individual who married Elizabeth Retley in 1788 at St George Bloomsbury and who was buried in this parish in July 1828, age 68, as of Bentinck St, Marylebone. He was listed as pencil maker in 1799 (as John Gulbert, Holden's directory), pencil maker to artists in 1802, and as colourman to artists from 1812. From 1815 his premises were occupied by his apprentice, Henry Matley (qv), and subsequently by Charles Roberson. Some directories continued to list Culbert as late as 1822, perhaps because the old entries were not amended.

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

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