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British artists' suppliers, 1650-1950 - D

An online resource, launched in 2006, selectively updated twice yearly. Last updated March 2021. Contributions are welcome, to Jacob Simon at [email protected].

Resources and bibliography Introduction

[DE] [DI] [DO] [DR]

Added March 2013, updated January 2017
Paris by 1785,23 rue de la Juiverie by 1820-1832 or later, Dagneau fils, 1 rue de la Vieille Draperie by 1836-1844, 15 rue Constantine, Ile de la Cité 1844-1851. Brushmakers.

Continental suppliers used by British-based artists when abroad are treated in summary detail in this resource. References to Dagneau, father and son, leading brushmakers, can be found in French sources between 1785 and 1850. The father is apparently referred to in Roland de la Platiere’s Encyclopédie méthodique. Manufactures, arts et métiers, 1785, p.235.

The fullest idea of Dagneau’s stock can be found in the Bazar Parisien for 1821, which is worth quoting at length:

‘Dagneau, Brosses et Pinceaux pour les peintres, rue de la Juiverie, n°. 23. Cette maison est connue fort avantageusement, tant par son ancienneté que par l'excellente qualité des objets qu'elle fabrique. Elle tient pour les peintres: blaireaux à fondre, brosses plates pour l'huile, brosses rondes pour l'huile et la détrempe, pinceaux à l'huile et pour miniature, pinceaux à laver les dessins. Pour les doreurs: les putois, brosses à mixtion et à réchampir, palettes carrées, brosses à l'assiette; pinceaux à mouiller, à manches et à plumes; pinceaux à matter, dorer, vermillonner; pinceaux à épousseter. Pour les peintres sur porcelaine: des putois pour les fonds, pinceaux plats et ronds pour fonds et filets; pinceaux à peindre et à dorer, comme aussi les pinceaux pour garnisseurs. M. Dagneau se livre, depuis cinquante ans, au genre de commerce dans lequel il a si bien mérité la confiance du public.’ (Bazar Parisien, ou Annuaire raisonné de l'industrie des premiers artistes et fabricans de Paris, 1821, pp.118-9).

Like his master, Sir Thomas Lawrence, William Etty had a preference for the best French brushes. On a visit to Paris, apparently in 1823, Etty sought out ’Dagneaux’, reputed to be the best artists’ colourman in Europe, whom he described as ‘a clever old man… who lives up three pair of stairs, in one of the dirtiest holes of Paris; with two or three dogs, some birds, and his son and wife, who materially aid him. His brushes are without their parallel. No one can touch him. He won’t sell them to the shops…’ (Alexander Gilchrist, Life of William Etty, R.A., 1855, vol.1, p.215). Etty bought 14 dozen of Dagneaux’s first-rate brushes and two or three dozen more.

Dagneau’s son is mentioned in competition reports in 1839, 1844 and 1850. In 1844 it was said that he had achieved: ‘une très-grande perfection dans la fabrication des brosses et pinceaux. Avant lui, son père jouissait d'une véritable réputation chez les artistes: il n'est pas resté au-dessous de lui. Il a de plus donné une plus grande extension à sa fabrication (Rapport du Jury central sur les produits de l’ Industrie Français en 1844, 1844, p.381). In 1850, it was said that: ‘tous nos grands artistes, en tête M. Ingres, recherchent avec empressement les brosses et pinceaux de M. Dagneau’ (Rapport du Jury Central sur les produits de l'agriculture et de ..., vol.3, p.552, Exposition Nationale des Produits de l'Industrie Agricole et Manufacturière, 1850).

Dagneau was listed in Paris directories at 1 rue de la Vieille Draperie, in 1839 for his ‘brosses pour peinture, architecture, coloris; pinceaux pour la dorure sur bois, pour les peintres et garnisseurs en porcelaine’, and in 1842 additionally as ‘fournisseur de l’Ecole Royale d’état major’ (Almanach-Bottin du Commerce de Paris). It is likely that he was the Dagneau who was in partnership with L. Colcomb as Colcomb-Dagneau, ‘fabrique de brosses et pinceaux’, at 18 Quai de l’Ecole in 1854, from which address Colcomb also traded as Colcomb-Bourgeois, colour makers (Almanach-Bottin du Commerce de Paris, see also Constantin 2001 pp.52, 62).

Such was the resonance of the Dagneau name in brushmaking that both Colcomb-Bourgeois at 18 Quai de l’Ecole and the successor business at the same address, E. Poignant, advertised as ‘Fabrique de brosses & pinceaux de Dagneau’ (Colcomb-Bourgeois, trade sheet, c.1852-9;E. Poignant, trade sheet, c.1867-79). Furthermore, another brushmaker, Bardouil, described himself in 1864 as pupil and successor to Dagneau at 28 rue de Bièvre, and it was at this address that Dagneau-Thierry (veuve Thierry successeur, ‘fabr. pinceaux’), was listed in 1885 (A. Cambon, Almanach des 100,000 adresses des fabricants de Paris et du département, 1864; Annuaire-Almanach du commerce… Didot-Bottin, 1885).

Sources: French publications pre-1865 have been accessed through Google Book Search except Paris almanachs which have been accessed through Gallica.

Added March 2018, updated March 2020
Daler Board Co Ltd, Wareham Quay, Wareham, Dorset c.1946, 15 Church St, Wareham by 1948-1951, 53 East St, Wareham 1952-c.1960, 51 East St 1957-c.1973, Westminster Road, Wareham, BH20 4SW by 1975 to date. Artists’ board manufacturers, later art materials manufacturers.

This business initially specialised in prepared boards and sketching paper. It owes its origins to three men, Terrence Daler (1915-88), his brother Kenneth Daler (1909-2000) and brother-in-law, Arthur Trickett (1914-86). Kenneth Edward Daler, son of James and Frances Daler, was born in Tooting in 1909 and lived in south London until 1939. He married Nona Hubbard in the Poole district in 1966. His brother, Terence Reginald Daler, was born in 1915 also probably in Tooting, and lived in London until at least 1938 when he married Mary Trickett.

‘The Daler Board Company was incorporated in 1946, having started life the previous year when Terry Daler returned from a German prisoner of war camp’, according to Daler-Rowney Ltd’s website (see Sources below). The website also provides the information that Terry Daler, with his brother Ken and brother-in-law Arthur, initially started a sign writing business. During the Second World War, shop signs in the south coast towns of England had been painted over as a security measure in case of invasion. As a result, the Dalers’ business thrived immediately following the end of the war as shop signs were re-painted.

Also as a result of the war and shortages of all types of materials, canvas was hard for artists to obtain. Typically, an oil painting requires a sealed, ‘toothed’ (abrasive) surface to pull thick oil colour off the brush. Arthur, a talented artist himself, improvised to create a new surface to replace canvas. Cardboard was sealed and primed through a mesh, which when removed left a perfectly textured surface. Arthur’s canvas substitute was eventually developed into a commercial product and the ‘Daler Board’ was born. The preceding discussion derives from Daler-Rowney Ltd’s website. For details of the Daler patent, Improvements in or relating to boards or sheets for artistic purposes, taken out on 13 May 1946, see Sources below.

Jim Daler has kindly provided additional information on the early years of the business: ‘The early work on the original product was done in an outhouse of rented accommodation that was home for my mother and I during the war, in Puddletown Road near Wareham. The first commercial premises were a room over a pub’s garage on Wareham Quay. This is now an apartment over the “Quay Café”’ (letter, 24 January 2018).

In telephone books, the business was listed in Wareham, Dorset, as ‘artists oil boards’ until 1956, ‘artists board manufacturers’ from 1957 and, on moving to Westminster Road, as ‘art materials manufacturers’ from 1975. The Daler Board Company purchased George Rowney & Co Ltd from Morgan Crucible in 1983, to become Daler-Rowney Ltd in 1985. For George Rowney & Co Ltd and for Daler-Rowney Ltd, see under George Rowney in this resource. In 1986 Terence Daler was chairman of the combined business and his widow Mary remained a director until 1997. Their son James (‘Jim’) Daler (b.1938) led the business subsequently until 2008. As at December 2017, artists' paper and mountboard is still produced in Wareham although the original Daler boards appear to have been phased out.

Jim Daler has kindly provided the following statement on the way the business evolved (letter, 24 January 2018):

The company’s development from the early days has much to do with changes in retail distribution in the period after the war. Through the 1950s and 60s there was a rapid growth in evening classes, including art, and painting clubs started to become popular. Many family owned businesses had art materials together with either stationery or gifts, and a framing department in the rear. The opportunity was there to sell small format mounting boards as a retail item and large format to the framer.

After a couple of decades, this changed significantly, with framing being done by stand-alone businesses, together with large industrial enterprises providing the furniture trade and large commercial enterprises such as hotels with framed artwork. In the 1990s I separated the framing, into a totally separate sales and marketing business.

The other big change came in the 1960s with the growth of the ‘consumable graphics’ industry, driven principally by Letraset instant lettering. Retailers, many originally stocking art supplies, began supplying design and advertising agencies, and lay-out, tracing and marker pads, together with line boards and portfolios became very substantial products for the company. It enabled the Daler Board Company to grow in scale relative to the artists’ colourmen like Winsor and Newton and Rowney who, whilst they were in these outlets, their products such as gouache and brushes did not create the same revenue. This enabled us to become something of an equal player in art materials. It is noteworthy that this business had about a 30 year lifecycle because by the 1990s Apple Macs started to be used, and although it took some time the business was finally decimated and a number of these retailers fell by the wayside.

The Daler Board Company, and my family were extremely fortunate that we were able to acquire George Rowney and Co from Morgan Crucible in 1983. This gave us access to overseas markets, mitigating much of the problem caused by diminished business in consumer graphics.

Products: Initially the business used its advertisements to explain the nature of its boards, oil sketching paper and oil sketching blocks: ‘All these products have a perfect oil painting surface, whether in coarse or fine grain. The surface is ready primed and absolutely non-porous, retaining all the original richness of colour applied. We claim that our surface is equal to that of the finest canvas... Our products are... accepted for exhibition by the Royal Academy and Leading Galleries.’ (Studio September 1948). It advertised that its products could be purchased for a much more reasonable price than canvas while at the same time standing up to much more rigorous handling (Studio July 1949). A new range of watercolour boards began to be marketed under specific names in 1954, including Arne and Frome watercolour boards (Studio July 1954). Sketching blocks and pads was introduced in 1955 (The Artist June 1955). In 1959 the business advertised its Truline Bristol type fashion board of special whiteness for pen and line work (Studio January 1959), as well as superior canvas boards with best quality cotton canvas, fine or coarse grain, and a more economical Wareham canvas board, claiming that all their products were handmade at Wareham (The Artist February 1959). In 1966 Daler was also offering ‘Grange’ cotton canvas and ‘Wessex’ Jute canvas, both on stretchers, as well as portfolios (The Artist June 1966) and the range extended to framing kits by 1970 (The Artist November 1970).

By 1975 ‘Daler for the complete artist’ was the headline: ‘From framing to sketching, from designing to pastel work, canvasses, oil boards and paint brushes, easels and portfolios. Palettes and colour boxes, Das modeling clay, canvas carriers, art instruction books and cover papers. Drawing pads, sketching pads, layout pads and mounting boards, watercolour paper and cartridge pads, Daler supply it.’ (The Artist January 1975). According to the Daler-Rowney website, Daler introduced the first synthetic watercolour brush, ‘Dalon’, in 1975.

It is possible to partly trace the spread of Daler products from artists’ suppliers’ catalogues. C. Roberson & Co Ltd was stocking Daler oil sketching boards and oil sketch paper blocks as early as 1948 (Catalogue 1948, pp.10-11). George Rowney and Co. Ltd was stocking Daler oil sketching boards, oil sketching paper and oil sketching pads by 1951 (Pocket Catalogue, p.45) and Winsor & Newton Ltd a similar range by 1960 (1960 Catalogue, p.93).

Examples of marked Daler products include Robert Hogg Matthew, Abstract Study, 1964, stamped on turnover of primed canvas: DALER BOARD CO. LTD. (Criterion Auctioneers, Islington, 16 October 2017, lot 80) and Stanley Nowell, Welsh Moorland, 1972, board labelled in blue: DALER BOARD FOR OILS (around outer oval), DALER BOARD (within oval), Grade LM (at right), HANDMADE AT WAREHAM. DORSET (on bottom band), also with patent number and stock sizes (with Sulis Fine Art, Bradford-on-Avon, December 2017). For illustrations of Daler labels and a canvas stamp, see British canvas, stretcher and panel suppliers’ marks. Part 12, England outside London on this website.

Sources: Daler-Rowney Ltd website,, accessed December 2017; ‘British Phone Books, 1880-1984’, dataset at Patent (no. 14402), Improvements in or relating to boards or sheets for artistic purposes, taken out on 13 May 1946: ‘An artists board or sheet comprises a base of rigid or pliable material having a layer of a coating composition applied to one or both surfaces thereof, the composition having been applied through a porous screen to produce a matt surface simulating that of a woven fabric. The base may be of wood, cardboard, pasteboard, cloth or paper and the screen of linen, gauze, coarse muslin, fine muslin, fine mesh net material or fine wire mesh. The screen is conveniently mounted on a rectangular frame the sides of which may be movable in order to tension the material. The coating composition which may be oil-bound flat paint, water colour paint or washable distemper, may be forced through the screen by means of a squeegee.’ (, accessed January 2020).

Daler-Rowney Ltd, see Rowney

Updated March 2021
Matthew Darly, various addresses before moving to 39 Strand (opposite New Round Court) 1766-1780, 159 Fleet St 1780-1781. Engraver and teacher of engraving, printseller, paper hanging manufacturer, artists' colourman.

Matthew Darly (c.1720-80), also known as Matthias Darley, made many engravings of furnishings, ornament and architecture, including plates for Chippendale's The Director, 1754-62, and also produced numerous caricatures. He advertised his ‘Manufactory for Paper Hangings’ (trade card, Banks coll.). In 1766 he moved to 39 Strand, the shop depicted in The Macaroni Print Shop (1772), where he and his wife Mary sold caricatures and other engravings, and also supplied materials for artists and amateurs, including 'transparent colours for staining drawings' in 1776 (Hardie 1967 p.17), and the following year all sorts of materials used in the polite arts of drawing and engraving, including ‘prepared Papers, Chalks, Copper-plates, Black lead Pencils… transparent Colours, &c’ (Public Advertiser 9 January 1777). He also advertised ‘Foreign and English Colours dry or prepared in Pots, Creyons, or drops &c… Black Lead, Red Chalk, and other drawing Pencils. Italian, French, Black, Red and White Chalks. Silver, Steel and Brass portcreyons’, as well as many other materials (broadside, said to date to c.1776, repr. Ken Spelman,, November 2008, no.72). Darly died in 1780, the business perhaps being carried on by his wife for a year or two.

Darly’s satirical engraved self-portrait dates to 1771 (example, National Portrait Gallery).

Sources: Christopher Gilbert, ‘The Early Furniture Designs of Matthias Darly’, Furniture History vol.11, 1975, pp.33-9; Christopher Gilbert, The Life and Work of Thomas Chippendale, 1978, pp.5-7; Ian Maxted, The London Book Trades 1775-1800: a preliminary checklist of members at , accessed 6 February 2021; Timothy Clayton, ‘Darly, Matthew (c.1720-1778?)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2004. For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.

Added March 2019, updated December 2020
George Davidson 1872-1907, George Davidson Ltd 1907-1917. At 42 Sauchiehall St, Glasgow 1872-1873 or later, 88 Sauchiehall St by 1875-1878, 123 Sauchiehall St (‘Fine Art Saloon’) 1879-1917. Carver and gilder, picture framemaker, artists’ colourman, later also fine art dealers and picture restorers.

George Davidson (1843-1901) was the son of James Davidson, spirit merchant and his wife Margaret Hall. He married Mary Wilson, daughter of John Wilson, carver and gilder, on 31 December 1868 in Calton, Glasgow. He appears in the 1872 directory as a carver and gilder, and in 1877 also as an artists’ colourman. His first premises, 42 Sauchiehall St, had previously been occupied by another colourman, James Miller (qv). Davidson and his successors were in business at 123 Sauchiehall St for almost 40 years. The Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolours was close by at no.127.

In census records he can be found in 1871 in Annfield St, age 27, born Aberdeen, a plane maker with his wife Mary and a young son, and in 1881 in Sauchiehall St, age 39, as a master carver and gilder employing seven men and three boys, living with his wife Mary, nine-year-old son, George, and three younger daughters.

Following his death in 1901 his business as art dealer, carver, gilder, and artists' colourman was sold to his son, George Stenhouse Davidson, under the terms of his will (Edinburgh Gazette 20 December 1901). George Stenhouse Davidson (1872-1920) married firstly Alice Madden in London in 1893 and secondly Clara Louise Reed in Glasgow in 1909. The business became George Davidson Ltd in 1907, with various shareholders; George Stenhouse Davidson held the largest number of shares and acted as managing director while William Brebner Simpson (1867-1949) had the second largest shareholding and later set up as an art dealer on his own (National Records of Scotland, BT2/6622).

A connection, if any, to the fine art dealers and picture framers, Davidson, Kay & Co in London St, Glasgow, remains to be established.

Activities as a colourman and dealer: It is worth quoting from an unidentified commercial guide to Glasgow in 1888. Reportedly, George Davidson’s business was begun in 1870. His premises at 123 Sauchiehall St were described as ‘a large and commodious double shop, with a spacious glass-roofed saloon at the rear. The main showroom… is about 45 feet by 18 feet… The stock held in the forward showroom consists principally of artists’ materials, and includes a very great number of studies in colour of a conspicuously high-class order. There is also shown a large and valuable assortment of etchings, engravings, and oil-paintings… About fifteen or sixteen capable assistants find occupation in the establishment, which has been enlarged, since Mr. Davidson took possession, by the addition, five or six years ago, of part of the main showroom and saloon, altogether a length of about 50 feet. The speciality of the house… consists in gold framing… Mr. Davidson also represents most of the fine art exhibitions in Scotland and England, and acts as sole agent in Glasgow for Dr. Schoenfeld of Dusseldorf, whose manufacture of artists’ colours has achieved a world wide renown….’ (taken from, information from Helen Smailes).

Apart from trading in Schoenfeld’s colours, Davidson held an account with Roberson, 1876-1904 (Woodcock 1997). For an illustration of his canvas stamp, see British canvas, stretcher and panel suppliers’ marks: Part 13, Scotland on this website.

From time to time Davidson advertised celebrated pictures for viewing on his premises, including Noel Paton’s Beati Mundo Corde in 1895 and De Profundis in 1896 and Davidson Knowles’s The Sign of the Cross in 1898 (Glasgow Herald 22 February 1895, 29 January 1896, 18 April 1898). He advertised in 1896 that he would clean old portraits and landscapes (Glasgow Herald 13 June1896) and he promoted his collection of etchings and engravings in 1899 and specifically artists’ proof etchings after Meissonier and Corot the following year (Glasgow Herald 7 November 1899, 23 May 1900).

Davidson died in 1901 but his son continued to deal in engravings. The artist James McBey describes getting George Davidson to take his prints on sale or return in 1911 (Nicolas Barker (ed.), The Early Life of James McBey: An Autobiography 1883-1911, 1977, p.108). The business was wound up voluntarily in 1918-9 (National Records of Scotland, BT2/6622).

Updated January 2017
*Charles Davis
1763-1784 or later, Charles Davis & Son by 1791to 1794, Charles Davis junr from 1794. At the Golden Boy, Horse St, Bath 1763-1764 or later,Garrard/Gerrard St by 1771-1777, Westgate St 1777-1784 or later, Westgate Buildings by 1781, 2 Westgate Buildings by 1789-1794. Painters and artists’ colourmen.

Charles Davis (?1740-1805), painter and colourman has been the subject of research by Neil Jeffares (see Sources below). Davis advertised as a coach, sign and house painter, and as a supplier and gilder of picture frames (Boddely’s Bath Journal 30 April 1764, see Sloman 2002 pp.66, 231n). In 1763 he was offering watercolours in shells, palettes and palette knives, oils and colours, best London brushes and primed canvas (William Whitley, Thomas Gainsborough, 1915, p.93). He was recorded in Gerrard St in 1771 and in Westgate Buildings in 1781 (general rate book, 1771; lighting, cleaning and watching rate book, 1781). In 1777 he announced that he had removed from Garrard St to Westgate St where he sold ‘all sorts of best colours, dry or prepared in oil or water, primed cloths, tools, pencils, pallets, pallet knives, easels & straining frames, crayons, drawing papers, Italian black, white & red chalk… and every article that is used in painting and drawing’ (Bath Chronicle 7 August 1777, as quoted in the Whitley papers vol.3 p.283). He was recorded as a painter and colourman in 1783 (Bailey’s Western Midlands directory).

The partnership, Charles Davis & Son, at 2 Westgate Buildings, formed in 1784, according to Jeffares, was dissolved on 5 January 1794, and the business continued by Charles Davis junr, who advertised funerary achievements, pictures cleaned, lined & repaired, colours and oils for house painting, gold leaf etc (Bath Chronicle 20 February 1794). Westgate Buildings was a favourite address for Bath artists in the last two decades of the 18th century, and hence a good location for a colourman; in addition to Thomas Beach and Robert Edge Pine, a number of lesser-known painters worked there (see Susan Sloman, 'Artists' Picture Rooms in 18th-Century Bath', Bath History, vol.6, 1996, p.149).

Sources: Neil Jeffares, Dictionary of Pastellists before 1800, online edition at For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.

James Davis, 4 Wilson St, Drury Lane, London by 1859-1875. Artists’ colour box manufacturer 1861-1875, previously listed as a tinplate worker.

Recorded at 4 Wilson St in the 1861 census as a tinplate worker, age 41, with wife and four children, the older sons, ages 17 and 15, also described as tinplate workers.

Updated August 2019
Robert Davis, 35 Chenies Mews, Bedford Square, London WC 1857-1870, also 36 Chenies Mews 1861-1870, 10 Huntley St, Tottenham Court Road 1858-1870. Artists’ colourman, subsequently a cab proprietor.

Robert Davis (b. c.1824) would appear to be the individual recorded in the 1851 census as artists' colourman, age 29, at 8 Old Chapel Road, Kentish Town. He was listed in 1857 as artists’ canvas primer and subsequently as artists’ colourman in Chenies Mews and Huntley St. These two roads run parallel to each other and it has been suggested that Davis may have occupied adjoining properties (Proudlove 1996). The premises at 35 Chenies Mews had been occupied by Robert Rawcliffe (qv) until 1854. By 1871 Davis was listed at 10 Huntley St as a cab proprietor, with his age given as 47 in the 1871 census. Subsequently, the premises in Chenies Mews were occupied in 1871 and 1872 by John Locker, artists’ colourman, and by Arthur Rayner (qv) from 1873.

Many marked canvases have been recorded, including James Collinson’s The Empty Purse, c.1857?, oval format stencil: R. DAVIS./ -- [Che]nies Mews/ 10 HUNTLEY ST/ TOTTENHAM CT ROAD (Tate, information from Joyce Townsend); another early example repr. Proudlove 1996. 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.

Sources: Proudlove 1996. For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.

Updated March 2013, January 2017, September 2018, March 2021
Robert Davy by 1811-1843, Charles Davy 1843-1863. At 16 Wardour St, London by 1811-1823, 83 Newman St 1822-1862, 85 Newman St 1863. Artists’ colourmen, carvers and gilders, picture restorers.

Robert Davy (1771-1843) was christened at St Botolph Bishopsgate in 1771, the son of Robert William Davy (d.1793) and his wife Betty Kempshall. He married Anne Francis Stone at St George, Hanover Square in 1792 (information from Simon Wilkinson). Davy claimed to have established his business in 1799, according to his label, which is often found on the back of his prepared panels for artists. However, although he may be the Robert Davy located in Wardour St in the 1803 rate book, he is not found in directories before 1811, when described as a carver and gilder. He was additionally listed as a picture restorer in directories in 1819 and 1827. He took out insurance with the Sun Fire Office as a carver and gilder from 16 Wardour St in 1820 and 1821 (London Metropolitan Archives, Sun Fire Office policy registers, 483/974355, 488/980758).

By 1825 Davy’s special interest in panels and millboards is apparent from his Post Office directory listing as ‘Prepared Pannel & Mill-board manufacturer & Artists’ colourman, Frame-maker, &c’. The same year he attended a meeting of more than fifty master carvers and gilders who resolved to resist the demands of journeymen for an increase in wages (The Times 30 June 1825). He had an account for purchasing items from the artists’ colourman, Roberson, 1828-39 (Woodcock 1997), but what is probably more significant is his role as a supplier of numerous panels and millboards to Roberson, 1828-30 (Hamilton Kerr Institute, MS 944-1993, pp.35-6). He was recorded in Newman St in the 1841 census as Robert Davy, Artists Colourman, age 70 (ages were rounded down to the nearest five in this census), living with Ann Davy, also age 70, and Jane Davy, age 35. Robert Davy, age 72, died at 39 Devonshire St, and was buried in Kensal Green cemetery in October 1843.

It is worth noting that there was an ‘R. Davy’, carver and gilder, active at 73 Long Acre in about 1793, who used his trade label to advertise, ‘Pictures Framed in the Italian, Flemish, French & Dutch Stile,... Glasses, Prints and Needlework neatly Framed and Glazed. Pictures Carefully Cleaned....’ (label on backboard of Benjamin Zobel sand picture, c.1793, Wardown Park Museum, Luton, information from Alastair Laing and with thanks to Elise Naish and Tim Vickers at the museum). However, the link to Robert Davy’s subsequent business has yet to be made.

Charles Davy (1800-72) succeeded his father at 83 Newman St in 1843; his label made the claim that the business had been founded in 1795. He was born in January 1800 and christened at St Clement Danes, the son of Robert Davy and his wife, Ann Frances Stone. He married Hannah Hopkins in 1825, with his sister, Lydia, as a witness. He was described as a gilder when his son, Charles Robert, was christened in 1827, the first of seven sons and one daughter. In 1851 Davy was subject to bankruptcy proceedings along with two other partners, William Wright and Jacob Dixon, in a goldsmiths’ and jewellers’ business (London Gazette 18 March 1851). Davy can be found in census records. In 1851 at 83 Newman St as Artists Colourman, age 51, with wife Hannah, age 48, and three sons, Charles Robert, Richard and Jacob, ages 23, 19 and 17, working in the business as journeyman, apprentice and shopman respectively; there were five other younger children or nephews in the house. In 1861 at 83 Newman St as Artists Colourman, age 61, with wife Hannah. In 1871 at 21-23 Fitzroy Square as a picture restorer, age 71, with wife Hannah.

In 1859 and 1860 Charles Davy was advertising lay figures, new and second-hand, for sale or hire (The Times 27 May 1859, 24 October 1860). In April 1862 a sale was held of his collection of more than 400 pictures by old and modern masters, together with a lay figure, easels and various picture frames (The Times 4 April 1862). He was last listed as an artists’ colourman in 1863. Charles Davy, or possibly his son, Charles Robert Davy, was recorded as an artist at 14 Russell Place, Fitzroy Square in 1864, and appears as a restorer of paintings at this address in 1865 and 1866, and at 21 Fitzroy St from 1867 until 1871.

Framing and picture restoration: Robert Davy supplied picture frames for George Home’s new gallery at Paxton House, Berwickshire at the considerable cost of £1091 (Country Life, 6 May 1993, p.62). The work took place between 1812 and 1814 and is well documented in the Home-Robertson papers (National Records of Scotland, GD267/4/1). In December 1813 Davy received £567.3s.9d for picture frames and for cleaning, repairing and hanging pictures. The following month, in January 1814, George Home wrote to Davy, objecting to the way that he had applied varnish to some of the pictures, questioning his charge of 2 guineas a day for restoration work, and rejecting a second-hand glass plate which he had supplied, presumably for a mirror. Work continued in 1814 but in August that year Home counter-offered Davy a guinea a day for restoration work, so reducing his bill to £450.15s. Davy‘s invoice was wide-ranging: attendance at Paxton in November 1812, carriage of glasses to London for repolishing and silvering, gilding and fixing up glass frames, restoring 165 pictures and supplying numerous frames. Some of this work was carried out by an assistant named Box. The frames were made to different widths to suit the pictures: 6 inch mouldings for six large pictures at 11s.6d a foot, 5 inch mouldings for various pictures at 8s.6d a foot, 4 inch mouldings for 27 pictures at 7s a foot, 3 inch mouldings for 14 pictures at 4s.6d a foot and 2 ¼ inch mouldings for 35 pictures at 4s a foot. The picture collection was dispersed later in the 19th century.

Like many framemakers, Davy used the specialist composition ornament maker, George Jackson (see British picture framemakers), 1814-7, ordering runs of ornament and composition details, presumably for decorating frames (see Jackson account book, V&A Archive of Art and Design, AAD/2012/1/2/1). Jackson apparently used some of Davy’s own designs in supplying other makers so that the terms such as ‘Davys mitres’, ‘Davys small mitres’ and ‘Davys large mitres’ appear in Jackson’s ledger from 1814.

Artists using Davy’s materials: Robert and Charles Davy’s labels for their ‘genuine flemish grounds on panel and millboards’ claimed the patronage of Thomas Lawrence, President of the Royal Academy. Robert Davy’s panels and boards were widely used, including by Landseer, Turner and Clarkson Stanfield, lending some credence to his claim to supply the Royal Academy (Proudlove 1996). His panels were also used by Norwich School artists, such as J.S. Cotman and Joseph Clover (Proudlove 1988 p.153).

For illustrations of Davy’s panel labels, many printed by his brother, William, and also of his canvas and panel markings, see the guide, British canvas, stretcher and panel suppliers’ marks: Part 4, Robert and Charles Davy on this website.

From 1816, John Linnell began to use Davy’s panels extensively as his account books reveal (Fitzwilliam Museum, MS 20 & 21-2000). In 1818, he purchased 14 prepared panels at a cost of £1.4s.6d, and over the two following years he bought panels etc to the value of £18.9s.8d. He continued to purchase panels until 1833, subsequently turning to Thomas Brown (qv). Works on supports marked with Robert Davy’s Wardour St address include Linnell's 7th Earl of Denbigh, 1821 (private coll.), Robert Ogle as a boy, 1822 (Sotheby's 12 June 2003 lot 81), Madame de Wouters, 1827 (Christie’s 9 December 2009 lot 242, panel impressed 16 Wardour St) and his Woodcutters in Windsor Forest, exh.1835, based on a work of c.1816 (Tate). Works marked with Davy’s Newman St address include Linnell’s Mrs Anne Young, 1831 (Sotheby’s 22 March 2005 lot 71) and William Mulready, 1833, labelled: The only Manufactory for/ Genuine Flemish Grounds/ ON PANEL & MILL BOARD,/ PATRONIZED BY/ SIR THOS. LAWRENCE,/ President of the Royal Academy,/ ESTABLISHED 1795,/ R. DAVY,/ Colourman [to] Artists, / 83, Newman Street, London./ Davy, Printer, 80 Gilbert-st. Oxford-st. (National Portrait Gallery).

Richard Parkes Bonington frequently used Robert Davy's millboards, ranging in size from 6x10 ins to 14.5x19 ins, including for his Ships at anchor, Dieppe, c.1825 (Sudley House, National Museums Liverpool), View on the Seine, c.1825 (Virginia Museum of Fine Arts), A Wooded Lane, c.1825 and Barges on a River, c.1825-6 (both Yale Center for British Art), The Ducal Palace, Venice, with moored barges, 1826 (Cleveland Museum of Art), View in Venice, with San Giorgio Maggiore, 1826 (Huntington Art Collection) and Near Sarzana, Val di Magra, 1826 (National Gallery of Scotland). These works feature in Patrick Noon, Richard Parkes Bonington: the complete paintings, 2008, pp.38, 235, 238, 242, 288, 318, 326; see also p.216 (Davy's label from 83 Newman St).

Examples of supports from the 1820s with Davy’s Wardour St address include George Clint’s William Macready as Macbeth, 1821, stamped panel (Theatre Museum, see Ashton 1992 p.35). William Blake’s panel, The Virgin and Child, ?1825 (Yale Center for British Art, repr. Townsend 2003 p.133), Richard Westall's Flora, stamped panel (Walker Art Gallery, see Alex Kidson, Earlier British Paintings in the Walker Art Gallery and Sudley House, 2012, pp.248-9), David Wilkie's John Knox preaching before the Lords of the Congregation, 1559, 1823?, incised: R. Davy, 16 Wardour Street (Petworth House, see C.H. Collins Baker, Catalogue of the Petworth Collection of Pictures in the possession of Lord Leconfield, 1920, p.134) and Michael Sharp’s Maria Davidson as Juliana, 1827, stamped panel (Theatre Museum, see Ashton 1992 p.38). James Ward wanted a large panel to be ordered from Davy in 1823, ‘primed without oil, and to absorb the least possible, but to absorb a little – and to have no colour’ (Nygren 2013 p.162). Giuseppe Canella’s The Marketplace, Milan, 1828 (Galerie Fischer 15 June 2016 lot 1098) and A View of the Pont-Neuf in Paris, 1829, are on Davy boards (Lempertz 24 September 2014 lot 80).

Examples from the 1820s with Davy’s Newman St address include James Atkinson’s Earl of Minto, c.1822-30 (National Portrait Gallery), George Hayter’s 2nd Earl of Liverpool, 1823 (National Portrait Gallery, see Walker 1985 p.318), Edwin Landseer’s Sir Walter Scott, c.1824 (National Portrait Gallery, see Walker 1985 p.439) and Taking the Deer: the Duke of Atholl with Foresters, 1820s (Sudley, see Bennett 1971), George Richmond’s The Creation of Light, 1826 (Tate, see Townsend 2003 p.145) and Barthelemy Viellevoye’s A brother and sister at the spinet, 1827, labelled millboard, apparently exported to Belgium (with John Mitchell Fine Paintings, 2011). Landseer’s Scott had the label, now kept separately: The only Manufactory for/ Genuine Flemish Grounds/ ON PANEL & MILL BOARD,/ PATRONIZED BY/ SIR THOS. LAWRENCE,/ President of the Royal Academy,/ ESTABLISHED 1795,/ R. DAVY,/ Colourman to Artists, / 83, Newman Street, London./ Davy, Printer, 41, James-st. Oxford-st.

Examples from the 1830s and early 1840s include two works on mahogany by J.M.W. Turner, Christ driving the Traders from the Temple and Shadrach, Meshech and Abednego, exh.1832 (Tate, see Townsend 1993 p.21, Townsend 1994 p.148), George Jones's The Burning Fiery Furnace, exh. 1832, on mahogany (Tate, information from Joyce Townsend), William Daniell’s Scene in the East Indies (The Hirkarrah Camel), 1832 (Sir John Soane's Museum), Joseph B. Kidd’s Yellow Warbler, c.1832 (National Gallery of Art, Washington, repr. Katlan 1992 p.459), and American Goldfinch, c.1831 (with William Reese Company, New Haven, 2005), William Clarkson Stanfield’s Orford, 1833 (Wallace Collection, see Ingamells 1985), Ramsay Richard Reinagle’s Sir George Nicholls, 1834 (National Portrait Gallery), John Bridges, Sarah Parker and Joseph Parker, 1838 (with Walpole Antiques, 2020) and C.R. Leslie’s Griselda, 1840 (Victoria and Albert Museum). James Atkinson’s Earl of Minto is labelled: THE ONLY MANUFACTORY FOR/ GENUINE FLEMISH GROUNDS/ ON PANEL AND MILLBOARDS,/ Patronised by Sir Thos. Lawrence,/ President of the Royal Academy,/ ESTABLISHED 1799,/ BY R. DAVY,/ COLOURMAN TO ARTISTS, / 83 Newman Street, London./ Improved Oil Grounds,/ On Panel and Millboards, to any tint or texture/ with every requisite for Oil Painting/ of the best quality (National Portrait Gallery).

Charles Davy’s panels and boards are less commonly found than his father’s; labelled examples include William Powell Frith’s Isabelle Frith reading, 1844, labelled panel: THE ONLY MANUFACTORY FOR/ GENUINE FLEMISH GROUNDS/ ON PANEL AND MILLBOARDS/ …/ …/ ESTABLISHED 1795./ BY C. DAVY,/ COLOURMAN TO ARTISTS,/ 83, NEWMAN STREET, LONDON/ Also his NEW SKETCHING BLOCK,/ … (Christie’s 16 June 2015 lot 75), Thomas Webster, A Village Choir, exh.1847 (Victoria and Albert Museum), William Gill’s Leap-frog, c.1852 (Fitzwilliam Museum), George Jones’s copy, Viscount Beresford (Cobbe coll., see Alastair Laing, Clerics & Connoisseurs, 2001, p.311) and Alfred Elmore’s The Smile: from Thomas Moore's Irish Melodies (Sir David and Lady Scott coll., Sotheby’s 19 November 2008 lot 66). His canvas mark can be found on a copy after Michael Dahl’s Sir John Pratt (National Portrait Gallery), stencilled: C. DAVY./ ARTISTS COLOURMAN./ 83 NEWMAN STREET./ OXFORD ST., LONDON, George Healy’s copy of Gainsborough’s Queen Charlotte Sophia of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, 1845, marked as above (Versailles, information from Pascal Labreuche, May 2013), Edwin Cockburn's Afternoon, 1855, stencilled: C DAVY/ ARTISTS COLO.../ 83 NEWM.. .../ OXFORD ST., LONDON/ Established in ... (private coll., information from Cyndie Lack, June 2016) and Daniel Maclise’s The Scottish Lovers, 1863, stencilled: C. DAVY/ ARTISTS' COLOURS/ OXFORD St., LONDON./ Established 1795. (Chazen Museum, University of Wisconsin-Madison, information from Joan Gorman, February 2008).

Sources: Proudlove 1996 (repr. an example of R. Davy’s label, post-1830). Revisions to biographical details for Robert and his son Charles are based on family information kindly supplied by Simon Wilkinson, March 2018. Westminster rate books, accessed at, are subject to any misrecording in the original rate book or in the digital transcription. For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.

Thomas Day (c.1733-1807). Painter and restorer.

Thomas Day prepared vehicles for painting and varnishes, according to his widow in 1808. He was sometimes known as ‘MacGilp’ Day (Farington vol.9, p.3305). A number of individuals by the name of Thomas Day appear in directory listings.

Sources: Waterhouse 1981. For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.

**William Day, 12 Middle Row, Holborn Bars, London 1837-1842, 90½ Holborn Hill 1844-1846. Supplier of watercolours and pencils, subsequently bookbinders’ tool cutter, and stationer, engraver, printer and bookseller.

William Day’s uncle, the blacking manufacturer Charles Day, died in October 1836, making substantial bequests to each of his nephews and nieces, the sons and daughters of his sisters and his late brother William. Charles Day’s will was contested and was not proved until May 1840. It was perhaps with the knowledge of this legacy that William Day set up in business as a supplier of watercolours and pencils.

William Day advertised from 12 Middle Row, to artists, architects, surveyors and engineers, his drawing pencils and ‘his SUPERFINE WATER COLOURS, in whole, half, and quarter cakes, at very reduced prices;... The Colours have the impress, W. Day, Holborn: the Pencils, W. Day. 12, Middle Row, Holborn, without which none are genuine…‘, also giving an office address at 26 Lombard St and a manufactory at Upper Row, Deptford, which addresses seem to be associated with another business altogether (Civil engineer and architect's journal, October 1838, vol.1, following p.359). A mahogany watercolour box with label inside the lid, reads, ‘W. DAY'S SUPERFINE WATER COLOURS/ Warehouse No 12 Middle Row, Holborn Bars/ The greatest care is taken in grinding these colours, which are manufactured of the choisest materials and they are particularly recommended to Artists as superior to none that have hitherto been offered to them. W. DAY'S SUPERFINE DRAWING PENCIL'S made of the finest Cumberland lead and lettered according to their different degrees of hardness are confidently offered to the public as being a very superior article’ (information from Peter Tilley, 22 February 2011).

Day tried a number of related trades. In 1838, he advertised as a bookbinders’ tool cutter, printers’ brass ornament manufacturer and bookbinders' materials dealer, offering a new price list (Bent's Literary Advertiser, 1838, p.131, accessed through Google Book Search). He was listed as a bookbinders’ tool cutter in 1839 and subsequently (Pigot & Co’s London directory etc), as a wholesale plain and fancy stationer in 1840 and 1841 (Post Office London directory) and as an engraver in 1841 (Robson’s London directory). In December 1843, he was restrained by injunction from trading as a blacking manufactory for misrepresenting the manufactory to be that of Day & Martin, carried on by his late uncle, Charles Day (The Times 14 December 1843, 11 July 1844).

In 1846, as William Charles Day, he was imprisoned for debt (London Gazette 4 December 1846, 15 January 1847), when he was described as formerly of 12 Middle Row, Holborn, stationer, engraver, printer and bookseller, and late of 90½ Holborn Hill, first bookbinders' tool cutter, then carrying on business in partnership with Richard Martin as Day & Martin, blacking manufacturers.

Updated March 2018, March 2020
William De La Cour, The Iron Rails, Coventry Court, Haymarket, London by 1743-1745 or later, The Golden Head, Catherine St, Strand 1747, Mr Read’s, Grocer, The Ship, Great Russell St, Covent Garden 1752, The Green Door, Winchester St, New Broad St 1753, Ormonde Quay, Dublin 1753, College Green, Dublin from 1753, Edinburgh 1757-1767, Head of Toderick’s Wynd, Edinburgh 1759-1766. Designer and engraver, portrait painter and scene painter, supplier of watercolours and crayons, drawing master.

William De La Cour (d.1767), also known as Delacour, was presumably of French origin. His first recorded work was his stage designs for G.B. Pescetti’s opera, Busiri, at the Kings Theatre in London in 1740. Between 1741 and 1747 he published a series of books of engraved ornament.

De La Cour issued an attractively engraved London trade card, said to date to c.1743, describing his activities. It is known in two versions giving different addresses, ‘De La Cour / AT THE IRON RAILS IN COUENTRY/ Court Hay Markett/ ST: JAMES'S’/ Sells the most Beautifull Crayons of/ A particular Composition, the Best of/ Water Colours, Lead & hair Pencils, Indian/ Ink, Prints & Drawings Old & new,/ Ornaments Landscapes History &c./ He also Designs for all Sorts of/ Trades, & teaches to Draw & Paint in/ Water Colours & Crayons to Gentleman & Ladies both at Home/ or a Broad/ R White scu’ (Heal coll. 89.46); a later version, exactly as above but the address reading, ‘At the Golden Head in Katherine Street/ in the Strand: opposite/ Mr.Walsh’s Musik shop’ (Heal coll. 89.45, repr. Ayers 1985, p.103, Banks coll. 89.5).

It was from the address in Coventry Court that De La Cour advertised in 1743, ‘a great Choice of very fine Pastels or Crayons, of the most beautiful and useful Colours… and can be made Use of either on Paper or in Oil Preparation lately found out by him’, later advertising the best watercolours (Daily Advertiser 26 April 1743, 26 December 1743). In 1747 a mezzotint of his portrait, Sir Thomas De Veil, was on sale from his premises in Catherine St. In 1753 he sold his household furniture, pictures, plate, china and linen, noting that he had been invited to establish an academy at Dublin (Public Advertiser 20 February 1753).

Delacour moved to Edinburgh in 1757, where he painted the large View of Edinburgh, signed and dated 1759 (City Art Centre, Edinburgh). He was appointed the first Master of the Trustees’ Drawing Academy in Edinburgh in 1760 (Caledonian Mercury 9 July 1760). His small-scale self-portrait, dated 1765, belongs to the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. He is said to have died at a very old age. His posthumous sale in Edinburgh in 1767 included his ‘blocks for grinding colours. Colours, pencils, drawing-tables, rulers, and other utensils and materials’ (Caledonian Mercury 25 April 1767). His widow, Mary, depended on the charity of the Royal Academy in London after her husband’s decease, starting in June 1769 and continuing until June 1781 (Royal Academy Council minutes, see Stephens 2019).

Sources: Strickland 1913 p.272; D.F. Fraser-Harris, ‘William De la Cour: Painter, Engraver and Teacher of Drawing’, Scottish Bookman, vol.1, no.5, January 1936, pp.12-19; Croft-Murray 1962 pp.199-200; John Fleming, 'Enigma of a Rococo Artist', Country Life, vol.131, 1962, pp.1224-6; Waterhouse 1981. For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.

Constant De Massoul, see Massoul & Co

Expanded March 2018
Helena de Wet, Canongate,Edinburgh 1688.

Helena de Wet, née Stalmans (d.1707), was the wife of the Haarlem and Amsterdam painter, Jacob Jacobsz de Wet, or de Witt (1641/2-97). He was brought to Edinburgh by the architect, Sir William Bruce, to work at Holyroodhouse in about 1673 and subsequently worked intermittently in Scotland.

Helena de Wet wrote to Bruce in August 1688 concerning the supply of colours and brushes, apologising for her husband’s absence and also for the absence of the wright who prepared brushes (National Archives of Scotland, GD29/1999, Bruce of Kinross papers). These materials were probably intended for use in interior decoration at Kinross House (see Desmarret in Sources below), rather than for pictures, but the rare survival in this correspondence of two bills for colours and the link to a leading artist make this of interest. One bill, amounting to £4.13s.6d, has as its most expensive items various brushes (‘pencils’, as small brushes were then called), including one dozen ‘swanes pensells’ at 16s, three dozen ‘pen pinsills’ at 18s and 6 timber shafted brushes at 9s. The colours featured most expensively one ounce of vermilion at 6s and one ounce of ‘masterot’ (masticot/massicot, a yellow pigment) at 4s. The other bill, amounting to £3.8s, includes a glass vial of boiled oil at 9s and a supply of bladders for colours at 6s. Both bills include a supply of white lead and ochre.

Sources: For Jacob de Wet, see Irene van Thiel-Stroman, Painting in Haarlem 1500-1850. The collection of the Frans Hals Museum, 2006, pp.341-3. See also Michael Apted and Susan Hannabuss, Painters in Scotland 1301-1700: A Biographical Dictionary, 1978, pp.105-7, and James Holloway, Patrons and Painters: Art in Scotland 1650-1760, 1989, pp.23-7, 149. For Kinross House, see Clarisse Desmarest, ‘Mary Halket, Lady Bruce, at Kinross House in the 1680s-1690s’, Architectural Heritage, vol.27, 2017, p.29.

Updated March 2012, March 2019
Derveaux, 18 Charles St, St James’s Square, London c.1789, 28 King St, Golden Square. Brush supplier.

Derveaux came to London from Flanders in 1789 or perhaps before. He supplied brushes to various leading artists.

Derveaux, ‘who deals in Lyon’s tools & fitch pencils’ was referred to in a letter to James Rawlinson (qv) by Joseph Wright of Derby, who wished to acquire 12 dozen fitch pencils in different sizes. This letter probably dates to 1789 and gives Derveaux as residing at John Hoppner’s at 18 Charles St, although the address has been altered in another hand to 28 King St, Golden Square (Barker 2009 pp.130, 131n4, 189).

The American artist, John Trumbull, evidently was familiar with Derveaux’s brushes from his time in London. Following his return to the United States, he was sent a packet of brushes in May 1790 by Derveaux, according to a letter to him from Derveaux’s son, ‘B. Derveaux’, writing on behalf of his father, christian name unknown (Mayer and Myers 2011 p.5; with thanks to Ellen Miles for facilitating access to the letter). Derveaux refers to his ‘promise of last summer’, i.e. 1789, to bring over certain brushes, which presumably came from France in the light of Wright’s comments (above); he avers that he was determined to settle in England an account of ‘our disturbances in Flandres’ and he hopes that Trumbull will promote his brushes among his friends and acquaintances.

Philip Jacques De Loutherbourg owned hundreds of Derveaux’s brushes, which appeared in his studio sale in 1812 described as ‘French tools of the finest quality, manufactured by Derveaux’ and as ‘very fine fitch pencils’ (Drawings, sketches, sea views, and studies, of that celebrated artist Philip James de Loutherbourg, sale catalogue, Peter Coxe, auctioneer, 18-20 June 1812 lots 108-122, copy in V&A National Art Library). To have a brushmaker identified by name in a sale catalogue is quite exceptional and presumably reflects the high esteem in which Derveaux was held at the time of the sale; the catalogue also refers to another brushmaker, Miss King, otherwise unknown.

Derveaux may perhaps have been Catholic and perhaps did not remain in London, both circumstances making him more difficult to trace in official and genealogical records. In a previous edition of this history it was suggested that this brush supplier could perhaps be the Joseph Derveaux, widower, who married Mary Grime on 10 June 1778 at St Mary Marylebone, with witnesses, John Rouland and Margaret Smith (Publications of the Harleian Society‎, vol.51, 1921, p.41). This now seems unlikely.

It is worth noting that Paris directories include entries for Barbe-Derveaux, fabricant de brosses et pinceaux a l’usage des peintures, rue Beaubourg 44, in 1811, and for Lechertier-Derveaux as brushmakers at the same address in 1816 and 1820 (Almanach du commerce de Paris and Almanach des 25000 adresses de Paris pour 1816, accessed through Google Book Search). More research is needed but at the very least these references reinforce the tradition that Lechertier Barbe (qv) was an old established firm of Paris brushmakers, and at most could link this business to the Derveaux active in London in 1789.

Derveaux has sometimes been confused with another French brushmaker, Dagneau (qv), who was at rue de la Juiverie 23 in 1821 and who was patronised by William Etty on visits to Paris (Alexander Gilchrist, Life of William Etty, R.A., 1855, vol.1, p.215).

For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.

Updated March 2012
William Dicker (active 1735, died 1777/8),Newport St, London. Artists’ colourman.

William Dicker appears to have married twice, firstly to Ann Spencer in 1730 and secondly to Ann Taylor in 1748. William Dicker, colourman, took out insurance for £350 on his goods, utensils and stock in his dwelling house on the south side of Little Newport St on 15 October 1735. William Dicker of Newport St voted in the 1749 election (A Copy of the Poll Book for… Westminster, 1749, p.208). He was listed in Mortimer’s Universal Director, 1763, as opposite Newport Market. ‘The colour shop in New Port Street’ was referred to in Fanny Burney’s early correspondence (Whitley 1928, vol.1, p.332), but this reference remains to be clearly linked to Dicker. It was probably William Dicker who visited Bath in 1769 when he was described by the sculptor, Thomas Parsons, as 'Mr Dicker... an Oil and Colourman in Bloomsbury Square - seems to be a serious good Man' (Susan Sloman, 'An eighteenth-century stone carver's diary identified', The British Art Journal, vol.7, no.3, 2007, p.7).

William Dicker was dead by 16 January 1778, when his will was proved. In this will, made 12 September 1777, he referred to his son, Thomas, describing him as having misapplied himself. Thomas Dicker traded in Little Newport St until 1771 when he assigned his estate and affects to his creditors and advertised that his business would be carried on by John Milbourne & Son, oilman of Compton St (Public Advertiser 21 November 1771). The death at Haverfordwest of Thomas Dicker, formerly a colourman in Newport St, was reported in 1787 (Gentleman’s Magazine, vol.57, 1787, p.936).

Sources: Guildhall Library, Sun Fire Office policy registers, 42/67485, information from Richard Stephens from Museum of London index, 2011.

William Dickie (active 1781, died 1808), 120 Strand, London by 1790-1800. Stationer, pocketbook maker and bookseller.

It is said that most of J.M.W. Turner’s sketchbooks prior to 1807 were made up by William Dickie (Bower 1990 p.96; see also Peter Bower, 'Cornelius Varley's Use of Paper', in Cornelius Varley. The Art of Observation, Lowell Libson, 2005, p.49). However, it should be noted that Dickie was made bankrupt in 1795 and imprisoned for debt in 1804 (Maxted 1977, London Gazette 22 September 1795, 4 August 1804), and was reported to have ‘been confined nearly five years in the Fleet prison’ at the time of his death in 1808 (The Times 26 September 1808).

Dickie’s prospectus referred to stationary and account books ruled and annotated, wholesale and retail engraving and printing, improved travelling desks, copying machines and portable cases for writing, drawing or dressing, as well as bookbinding (repr. Bower 1990 p.95, giving a date of 1811).

It is not known whether William Dickie was related to an earlier oilman of this name of the parish of St Olave, Southwark, who was made bankrupt in 1742 (London Gazette 18 December 1742).

John Reed Dickinson (1844-1926?), see George Bowden

Charles White Dillon, see Rowney

Dimes & Co, Dimes & Elam, Frederick Dimes, seeCowen & Waring

Updated March 2013

John Dod,
The Queens Head, Cornhill, London, 1677-1681. Linen draper.

Dod supplied canvas and cloth to Charles Beale in 1677 and 1681 for use by his wife, Mary Beale (Talley 1981 p.284); Beale also refers to ‘Mr Sprignell’, possibly Dod’s partner. Beale identifies him as John Dod in his entry for 4 October 1677 (Beale’s diary notebook in the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, transcript by Richard Jeffree in National Portrait Gallery Archive).

The name of John Dod, perhaps our man, occurs in the parish records of St Michael Cornhill, 1672-4, including the birth and burial of John, son of John and Mary Dod in 1674.

For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.

James Dodsley, Pall Mall, London from 1759, 59 Pall Mall 1779-1788, 65 Pall Mall 1789-1797. Bookseller and publisher.

James Dodsley (1724-97) succeeded his better-known brother, Robert (1704-64), as owner of the firm of R. & J. Dodsley in 1759. He is not otherwise recorded as an artists’ supplier but in November 1767 he was approached by Thomas Gainsborough, writing from Bath, who requested some of the then quite new wove paper which he wished to use for wash drawings, taking advantage of the smooth finish of the paper (see John Hayes (ed.), The Letters of Thomas Gainsborough, 2001, pp.44-6).

Sources: Maxted 1977; James E. Tierney, ‘Dodsley, James (1724-1797)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2004. For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.

Aitken Dott
1842-1879,Aitken Dott & Son 1880-1984, Aitken Dott Ltd 1984-1988, Aitken Dott plc from 1988. At Lady Lawson St, Edinburgh 1842, 12 South St David St1844-1847, 16 South St David St 1846-1863, 14-16 South St David St 1863-1874, 26 South Castle St or Castle St 1874-1982, 94 George St 1982-1993, 16 Dundas St, EH3 6HZ from 1993. Carvers and gilders, framemakers, artists’ colourmen, from the 1890s also fine art dealers.

Aitken Dott had an account with Roberson, 1852-1908, and is recorded in the Roberson ledgers as taking over the business of John Douglas Smith (qv) at 26 Castle St, 1887. In 1896 Aitken Dott & Son advertised as ‘Picture & Print Dealers, Carvers and Gilders, Artists’ Colourmen, Architects’ & Designers’ Warehousemen’ (The Year’s Art 1896). An agent for Cambridge colours, 1897, made by Madderton & Co Ltd (qv), Aitken Dott advertised in Madderton’s literature as ‘Artists’ Colourmen & Importers of French & German Materials’. For further details of this business, see British picture framemakers on the National Portrait Gallery website.

Updated March 2013, updated December 2020
Nathan Drake (active 1750, died 1787), The White Lyon, James St, Covent Garden, London by 1750-1762, The White Hart, Long Acre 1762-1777, 52 Long Acre 1774-1790. Artists' colourman.

Nathan Drake (1727-87) was a leading artists’ colourman from the 1750s to the 1780s. He was the son of the Rev. Thomas Drake of Norham, Northumberland and married Jane Jones in 1753 (see Joseph Hunter, ‘Famillae Minorum Gentium’, Harleian Society, vol.38, 1895, p.511, vol.39, 1895, p.1162; information kindly supplied by Jayne Jackson, September 2012). As such he was a cousin of the York painter of the same name, Nathan Drake (1726-78).

Nathaniel Drake, colourman, took out insurance for £300 on his household goods, utensils and stock in his dwelling house in James St in Covent Garden on 26 September 1750. He was recorded in James St in 1750 as a subscriber to John Werge’s A Collection of original poems, Stamford, in 1751 in the Gentleman’s Magazine (vol.21, November 1751, p.527) and in rate books, both as Nathan and as Nathaniel in James St, 1751-62, and Long Acre, 1762. He can be found as Nathaniel elsewhere, as for example when selling prints for Thomas Worlidge, painter in Bath, in 1757 (General Advertiser 27 November 1751, Daily Advertiser 26 April 1757, Public Advertiser 20 December 1757). He was said to have been elected a member of the Society of Arts, 1763 (Whitley 1928, vol.1, p.332), but his nomination, as Mr Nathan Drake, Colourman, was declined on 5 April 1763 (Royal Society of Arts, Manuscript Subscription Book, 1754-63, examined by Suzanna Walker). He was listed in Mortimer’s Universal Director, 1763, as Nathaniel Drake, Long Acre. By this time he had taken over the business of Robert Keating (qv), who had died in 1758.

Shortly before his death, Nathan Drake was bequeathed £100 by Redmond Simpson, musician and portrait collector (information from Jayne Jackson). In his own will, made 17 January and proved 12 March 1787, Nathan Drake left a life interest in much of his estate to his wife, Jane, and then to his son Richard. He specifically permitted his wife to carry on his trade as colourman, which she may have done for a period since directory listings continue until 1790. A sale was advertised in March 1788 of his household furniture, plate, linen, china, pictures, prints and books (but not his stock-in-trade), to take place on his premises at 52 Long Acre (World 8 March 1788). His wife died the following year (General Evening Post 26 November 1789).

The York painter, Nathan Drake, is said to have given Drake’s Long Acre premises as his contact address in the 1771 Society of Artists catalogue (Whitley 1928, vol.1, p.332), but this does not tally with the copy of this catalogue in the National Portrait Gallery library. Nor can the 'Mr Drake', who exhibited at the Free Society in 1783, using Vine St as his address, be linked with the artists' colourman.

Trade as a colourman: Two trade cards in the name of Nathan Drake are known, the earlier perhaps dating to the 1750s, advertising from the White Lion, James St, near Long Acre, ‘Sells all sorts of Colours, Wholesale/ & Retail, As Indico’s, Smalts, Water/ Colours in Shells, & Liquids, Crayons/ … fine Prim’d Cloths…’ (Heal coll. 89.52; Lewis Walpole Library, 66 726 T675); the later perhaps dating to the 1760s or 1770s, advertising his business as ‘Successor to/ Mr Robert Keating/ At the WHITE HART in LONG-ACRE;/ London./ Sells all sorts of fine colours & oils for painting/ Prym’d Cloths, Pencils fine Tools and Palletts;/ Water Colours prepared in the neatest manner/ Also Makes all sorts of Crayons in the best/ approved methods…/ NB: Keatings fine Varnish formerly Calld/ Coopers Picture Varnish…’ (Banks coll. 89.8; Heal coll. 89.51; Johnson Collection).

Drake received payments from Allan Ramsay on 24 April 1752 (£20), 17 March 1762 (£10), 11 April 1763 (£23), 6 April, 5 July and 1 September 1764 (£10 on each occasion), and 10 August 1765 (£16) (Ramsay bank account). As Nathan Drake, he submitted two accounts to James Grant of Grant for work done in 1765-6, including a large stretching frame, work on straining pictures and cloth for rolling a picture for £3.19s in 1765 and a palette, palette knife, gum water and various colours for 13s.3½d in 1766; this was at about the time that Alexander Cozens was giving drawing lessons to to Grant and his daughters (National Records of Scotland, GD248/249/2/22, 86, 113).

Drake advertised varnish on 28 May 1768 (Whitley papers vol.3 p.281, source unspecified). He was mentioned by Michael Tyson in November 1771, who wrote to Richard Gough the antiquary to request him to call on Drake's in Long Acre to purchase ivories and brushes for miniatures, also requesting agates for grinding colours (John Nichols, Literary Anecdotes of the Eighteenth Century, 1814, vol.8, pp.571-4). He promised to supply canvas on stretched frames for James Barry at the Society of Arts for £100 in March 1777 (Whitley 1928, vol.1, p.330).

Sources: London Metropolitan Archives, Sun Fire Office policy registers, 91/122692, accessed through Museum of London index, information from Richard Stephens, 2011. For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.

Christian Dresch, Maiden Lane, Covent Garden, London 1813-1816, Compton St/Little Compton St, Soho 1817-1828, 6 Little Compton St 1820-1827, 10 Broad St 1828-1841. Colour manufacturer, later artists’ colourman.

Christian Dresch (1785-1841), the son of Michael Dresch, can initially be found in Maiden Lane in rate books and land tax records. He was described as a wholesale watercolour preparer in the Post Office London directory for many years from 1822. Christian Dresch and his wife, Lucy, had ten children between 1809 and 1828, christened in the parishes of St Paul Covent Garden (1809-13), St James Westminster (1815, 1819-23) and St Anne Soho (1817, 1828), including a son, Christian, christened in 1817. In his will, made 2 March and proved 31 March 1841, Christian Dresch, colour manufacturer of Bloomsbury, left his estate to his then wife Mary Ann and to his daughter Rosa, making his wife and Thomas Morris of Southampton St, Covent Garden, his executors; one of the witnesses to his will was Ebenezer Fox (qv), an artists’ colourman of 50 Old Compton St.

Dresch was accused of receiving stolen goods in 1838 in the form of cake colours and crayons allegedly taken from the artists’ colourman, Charles Smith (see Smith, Warner & Co), but he was acquitted following a trial at the Old Bailey (Proceedings of the Old Bailey). There was a fire in the adjoining street in April 1840, causing some damage to the rear of Dresch’s premises, described as at nos 9 and 10 Broad St. There was a further fire on 27 February 1841. Three days later Dresch signed his will and he died the same month (Morning Chronicle 26 August 1840, Morning Post 1 March 1841).

Dresch produced colour cakes, marked: ‘C. DRESCH’S Imperial’, with the address Compton St, Soho, London (examples, private coll., Dorset, exh. Georgian Faces: Portrait of a County, Dorset County Museum, 2011, inspected April 2011, with thanks to Gwen Yarker).

Sources: ‘Descendants of Michael Dresch & Wife, Middlesex, England, c1760’, family history site at, accessed April 2011, from which details of Christian Dresch’s birth, his father and the birth of one of his daughter’s is drawn. For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.

James Driver 1817-1818, Charles B. Driver 1816-1831 or later, Driver & Shaw 1824-1826. At 300 Strand, London 1816-1824, 117 Bishopsgate St 1824-1830, 19 Cornhill from 1831. Stationers, booksellers, colour manufacturers.

Charles Burrell Driver (1788-1852), the eldest of three known children of Abraham Purshore Driver, took over the premises of Reeves & Inwood (qv) at 300 Strand, and was first listed in 1816 (Post Office directory). James Driver was listed in 1817 and 1818 (Johnstone's directory). Subsequently the short-lived partnership, Driver & Shaw advertised as successors to Reeves & Inwood, and as 'Manufacturers of the Improved Superfine Colours', late of 300 Strand, in their trade card, which can be dated to c.1824-6 (Johnson Collection). Driver & Shaw published a 21-page catalogue of improved superfine colours and drawing materials in 1824 (Yale Center for British Art, see Ken Spelman Rare Books, York, cat. 59, 2006, item 18; this example of the catalogue has an additional wrapper with the address of John Wolstenholme, bookseller, York). The partnership between Charles Burrell Driver and Edmund Shaw, watercolour manufacturers and stationers, was dissolved on 31 December 1826 (London Gazette 1 May 1827). Charles Burrell Driver had an account with Roberson, 1828-31 (Woodcock 1997). He was father of Robert Collier Driver, a leading member of a family of surveyors and auctioneers, responsible for many prominent London property sales.

For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.

Updated August 2019
George Druke by 1816-1837, Sarah Druke 1837-1859. At Chapman St, Pentonville, London 1816, 97 Goswell St, Aldersgate 1817-1828, 6 Tower Royal 1830-1845, 5 Cloak Lane 1846-1859. Colour manufacturer (also described as maker of fine colours and as colour merchant).

George Druke (c.1784-1835), followed by his widow, Sarah (c.1790-1859), were wholesale colour manufacturers. He was presumably from Prussia where his nephew Christian originated (see below).

John George Druke, chemist of Chapman St, Pentonville, was granted a patent in 1816 for a method of expelling molasses or syrup out of refined sugars (The Repertory of Arts, Manufactures, and Agriculture, vol.29, 1816, p.321, accessed through Google Book Search). As John George Druke of St James Clerkenwell, he married Sarah Cox at St George Hanover Square in 1826 (The Register Book of Marriages belonging to the parish of St. George, Hanover Square, Publications of the Harleian Society, vol.24, part 4, 1897, p.61). He was described as John George Henry Druke, age 51, of 5 Baldwin’s Court, St Thomas the Apostle, in his burial record in 1835, and as John George Druke in his will, made 10 February 1831 and proved 19 August 1835, in which he left all his properties to his wife Sarah, with Thomas Belcher and H.J. Martin as witnesses to the will.

Sarah Druke, his widow, continued business, moving from Tower Royal in 1845, across Cannon Street to nearby Cloak Lane. In census records, she may be the individual listed in 1841 at Mansfield Place, Stepney, as a nurse, age 50, and more certainly in 1851 at Chigwell Row, Essex, as a colour merchant, born Shropshire, age 61, together with two unmarried sisters. She died on 7 October 1859 at Whitehall, Chigwell Row, leaving effects worth under £100. She was succeeded in business by her brother, John Cox. Ann Salter, one of her beneficiaries, and her husband Samuel Salter, were granted administration of her estate in 1867, the estate having been left unadministered by John Cox. The Salters subsequently took action against Mary Cox and James Clowes as creditors to Sarah Druke (The Standard 25 May 1870, London Gazette 27 May 1870, 16 June 1871, information from Sally Woodcock).

Christian Druke, described as Sarah’s nephew, was living at 6 Tower Royal in 1837, superintending her business according to his testimonial in an Old Bailey trial (see Central Criminal Court, information from Sally Woodcock). He described his aunt as residing in the country. As Christian Henry Augustus Druke from Prussia, he was naturalised British on 12 February 1847 (National Archives, HO 1/24/536). Christian Druke was listed as a colour maker at 15 Garlick Hill, Upper Thames St in 1851 and 1852, and supplied colours to Roberson, 1850-1 (information from Sally Woodcock, see Hamilton Kerr Institute, MS 944-1993, p.585). He was made bankrupt in 1853 (London Gazette 13 December 1853).

Activities as colour manufacturers: George Druke, listed as wholesale manufacturing colourman, had an account with Roberson from 3 April 1820 to 23 May 1837, and his widow and successor, Sarah Druke, an account from 11 April 1842 to 16 May 1854 (Woodcock 1997). There is a recipe in the Roberson Archive, given as Mastic Varnish S. Druke, dating to 30 April 1857 (recipe book, HKI MS 788-1993, p.48, information from Sally Woodcock).

George Druke supplied colours to Roberson, 1820-2, 1828-31, and probably throughout the period (Hamilton Kerr Institute, MS 139-1993, 148-1993, 944-1993). Sarah Druke supplied colours from Tower Royal in 1842, and probably throughout the period, and from 5 Cloak Lane, 1854-59, including cobalt blue and other colours, and was succeeded in business supplying Roberson by her brother, John Cox (MS 944-1993 p.143, 180-1993). His business eventually became John Cox & Co Ltd, which was taken over by Lewis Berger in 1895 (Hamilton Kerr Institute, MS 204-1993, p.570). These accounts require more detailed exploration to gain a fuller understanding.

Intriguingly, the artist John Linnell decided to experiment in 1848 with filling his own paint tubes. He purchased colours directly from Druke and acquired the necessary tubes from Rand & Co (qv) (Fitzwilliam Museum, Linnell account book, MS 22-2000).

For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography

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

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