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British artists' suppliers, 1650-1950 - P

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

[PE] [PH] [PI] [PO] [PR] [PU]

*Pache & Davis
1758-1763, Lewis Pache & Co 1765-1767. AtHayes’s Court, Soho, London. Merchants.

Pache & Davis advertised in 1758, ‘The noted Swiss Crayons called Pastels Assortie, the Box being a compleat Assortment of Shades and Colours’ (Public Advertiser 20 June 1758), later describing them as made by Bernard Stoupan and recommended by ‘that famous Painter Liotard’ (Public Advertiser 30 April 1760). These crayons, made by Stoupan, were previously advertised by W. Darres, printseller, at the late De Braque’s warehouse, Coventry St, near Haymarket (Public Advertiser 5 January 1756).

Lewis Pache of St Andrew Westminster was naturalised in February 1755 (Publications of the Huguenot Society, vol.27, 1923, p.156). ‘Louis Pache’ was an elder of the Swiss church of Moor St in about 1760 (W.H. Manchée, ‘The Swiss Church of Moor Street’, Huguenot Society, vol.17, 1942, p.55). In his will, Lewis Pache, merchant of Lawrence Poultney Lane in the City of London, made June 1769 and proved on 11 February 1773, made bequests to his nephew, Charles Henry Pache, son of his brother, Jacob Samuel Pache, and to various other relatives.

Like Louis Pache, J. Jacques Bonhote was an elder of the Swiss church, c.1760. In 1766 John James Bonhote (qv) advertised as successor to Mr Pache, subsequently stating that his pencils were now made by Charles Pache (qv). In 1783 John David Galliard (qv) advertised his crayons as those for whichthe Society for the Encouragement of Arts granted a bounty to Pache andGalliard.

Charles Pache, 2 Oxendon St, near Coventry St, London 1774. Pastel maker.

In 1773, John James Bonhote (qv) advertised that his pastels, or Swiss crayons, were now made by Charles Pache in London, formerly a partner with Bernard Stoupan at Lausanne, noting that Pache had obtained a premium from the Society of Arts and Sciences (London Evening Post 8 April 1773).

The following year Pache advertised that he had set up in business on his own at 2 Oxendon St, near Coventry St, advertising that he had received a Bounty from the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, for establishing a manufacture of crayons in England, and also advertising watercolours (London Evening Post 24 May 1774).

He is presumably the Charles Pache who married Marie Louise Doutremer at St James Westminster on 9 December 1775. He is perhaps Charles Henry Pache, nephew to Lewis Pache (qv).

Charles G. Page, see Winsor & Newton

Updated September 2012

*Hugh Paton
1827-1868, Hugh Paton & Sons 1869-1892. AtHorse Wynd, Edinburgh 1827-1839, 21 Horse Wynd, Cowgate 1827-1829, 27 Horse Wynd 1833-1836, 72 Adam Square 1840-1853, 10 Princes St 1854-1861, 40 Princes St 1857, 9 Princes St 1861-1867, 115 Princes St 1868-1884, 122 Princes St 1884-1892, 5 St James Square from 1893. Printing office and workshop at other addresses 1854-1892. Stationer, printer, publisher, printseller, carver and gilder.

Hugh Paton (1806-64) came from Ayrshire, the son of John Paton, millwright. He was in business by 1827. He held appointments to the Duchess of Kent and the future Queen Victoria from 1836, and probably from as early as 1834, later calling his premises the Royal Repository of Fine Arts for a brief period in 1860-1. He was appointed as Queen Victoria’s carver and gilder at Edinburgh in 1837, an appointment which was renewed to his sons, Chalmers Izett Paton and James Paton, in 1884 trading as Hugh Paton & Sons (National Archives, LC 5/243 p.45, 5/246 p.70).

Hugh Paton acted as a commissioner of police, 1834-9, and later served as a magistrate. Paton was recorded in the 1841 census at 2 Hay St as a carver and gilder with his wife Jane and seven children, and in 1861 at 35 Tower St, Duddingston, Edinburgh, as a printer, carver and gilder, employing 33 men, with three of his nine children apparently working in the business. An advertisement in 1855 exceptionally refers to Hugh Paton & Son but a partnership of this sort does not seem to have been set up in his lifetime (The Scotsman 22 August 1855). Paton opened a new gallery in 9 Princes St in 1861, premises which were kept until 1868 when advertised for sale (The Scotsman 24 July 1861, 4 April 1868). He died in February 1864 (obituary, The Scotsman 29 February 1864).

Hugh Paton's widow, Jane, evidently carried on the business, advertising from Hugh Paton’s Gallery although occasional advertisements referred to ‘Mr Hugh Paton’ (e.g., The Scotsman 30 July 1868). She advertised that as from 1 January 1869 she would be retiring from the business, which would be carried on by her two sons, Chalmers Izett Paton and James Paton, as Hugh Paton & Sons (Edinburgh Gazette 30 March 1869). The subsequent history of the business is not traced here.

Trade as a colourman, carver and gilder etc: Hugh Paton, like most carvers in Edinburgh offered a wide range of services, as colourman, carver and gilder, publisher and gallery owner. As a colourman, he took a full-page colour advertisement in Gray’s 1833 Edinburgh directory, giving his address as 25-27 Head of Horse Wynd, and featuring among other products ‘the very best prepared Canvass, Pannels, & oil Colours in bladders, the Cheapest in Scotland’. He supplied painting materials and frames to the landscape painter, Henry Gibson Duguid, c.1838-42, according to a court case concerning late payment (National Archives of Scotland, CS 275/5/131, from notes kindly made available by Helen Smailes). Paton continued to advertise, for example offering stretching frames made to order on his premises at short notice in 1844, as well as prepared canvases and panels (Edinburgh and Leith Post Office directory 1844/5). The business had an account with Roberson, 1850-81 (Woodcock 1997), trading as Hugh Paton, Hugh Paton & Sons and Hugh Paton & Son, from 10, 9 and 115 Princes St. A labelled canvas has been recorded, 1864 (information from Cathy Proudlove).

As carver and gilder to the Queen, Paton advertised maple, rosewood and gilt frames as well as seasoned portrait frames ready for gilding (Edinburgh and Leith Post Office directory 1839/40). As a publisher, he re-issued ‘Kay’s Edinburgh portraits’ (The Scotsman 16 July 1836) and published Geikie’s etchings and Wilson’s ‘Memorials of Edinburgh’ (The Scotsman 29 February 1864).

Paton moved to Princes St in the New Town in 1854, where his rivals, Alexander Hill (qv) and John Taylor & Son (qv) already traded. He exhibited celebrated contemporary paintings at his Fine Art Repository over the next ten years, including Richard Ansdell’s An Incident in Deer Stalking near Balmoral in 1855, Claude-Marie Dubufe’s The Temptation and The Fall in 1858, Holman Hunt’s The Light of the World in 1860, John Phillip’s Marriage of the Princess Royal in 1861 and George Cruikshank’s Worship of Bacchus, 1864 (The Scotsman 24 October 1855, 12 November 1858, 2 November 1860, 5 August 1861, 7 January 1864).

Sources: Scottish Book Trade Index on the National Library of Scotland website (for the above addresses, and for advertisements by Paton). Paton’s advertisements in The Scotsman for the exhibition of pictures, advertisements in the 1839/40 and 1844/5 Edinburgh directories, and obituary notices in The Scotsman 29 February 1864, kindly drawn to my attention by Helen Smailes. For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.

Thomas Pavitt 1878-1885, Thomas Pavitt & Sons 1886-1924. At70 Southampton Row,London WC 1878-1903, 69 Southampton Row 1904-1924. Supplier of decorators’ and gilders’ materials, also artists’ materials.

In 1909 Pavitt was marketing the full range of Bourgeois Ainé,Paris, using Bourgeois’s catalogue but under the Pavitt imprint on the cover and title page (Catalogue of Artists’ Colours and Materials, 208pp).

Frank Pearce, see The Chelsea Art Stores

Updated March 2015, March 2020, December 2020
Charles Pearson, 57 St John’s Wood High St, London 1860-1869, street renumbered 1869/70, 77 St John’s Wood High St 1870-1885, 17 Queens Terrace 1886-1894. Variously listed as carver and gilder, house and interior decorator and picture restorer.

Charles Pearson, father and son, can be traced in census records. In 1861 Charles Pearson (1813-1880) was listed at 57 St John’s Wood High St as a gilder and decorator, age 47, born Doncaster, with wife Maria and two young children. He died age 67 in the Marylebone district in 1880. In 1881, Maria, his widow, and Charles S. Pearson, his 21-year-old son, were recorded at 77 St John’s Wood High St as carvers and gilders, alongside other family members. The son, Charles Schofield Pearson (1859-1927), married Alice Martin in 1881. In 1891, Charles Schofield Pearson, age 31, can be found at 17 Queens Terrace as a carver and gilder, alongside his wife Alice and five young children. By 1901 the family had relocated to Eastbourne where Charles Pearson was recorded as a house painter, living with his wife and two daughters, and in 1911 as a gilder, still with his wife and two daughters.

Canvases with the Pearson mark include J.B. Burgess’ An Artist’s Almsgiving, 1886, oval mark: C. Pearson/ Artists Colourman/ 17 Queens Terrace, St.Johns Wood. (Reading City Museum) and Alice Havers’ Mary kept All These Things in her Heart, 1888, stencilled: CHARLES PEARSON/ 17 QUEENS TERRACE/ St JOHN’S WOOD/ N.W. (Norwich Castle Museum) (information on both the above from Cathy Proudlove, September 2014). A mirror frame is known with his label: CHARLES PEARSON,/ CARVER & GILDER,/ Picture Restorer,/ 17, QUEEN’S TERRACE,/ ST. JOHN’S WOOD (Malcolm Lawrie, 2020). For illustrations of Pearson’s canvas stamps, see British canvas, stretcher and panel suppliers’ marks. Part 6, O to Y on this website.

Pether & Co, 35 Tavistock St, Covent Garden, London 1816-1820. Black lead and chalk pencil makers.

The landscape painter, Abraham Pether (1756-1812), was known for his mechanical inventions and for constructing his own instruments, including apparently a type of pencil. He died leaving a destitute widow, Elizabeth, and nine children. By 1816 she was in business with Thomas Thornton as Pether & Co, advertising black lead and chalk pencils, 'the leads being freed by a chymical process from all impurities, and scratching particles' (The Times 30 July 1816). This advertisement gave James Newman, Ackermann and Smith, Warner & Co (qv) as stockists, among others, while another advertisement, later that year, included an even more extensive list of retailers (The Times 6 November 1816).

Three years later on 23 March 1819, Mrs Pether informed the Royal Academician, Joseph Farington, that her partner in the black lead pencil concern had resolved to dissolve the partnership, and that she was looking for a new partner to invest in the business (Farington vol.15, pp.5342-3). The dissolution of her partnership with Thomas Thornton was announced shortly thereafter (London Gazette 11 May 1819).

Farington was instrumental in obtaining a paper signed by Benjamin West, President of the Royal Academy, commending her pencils, which he gave her on 20 July 1819, with the recommendation that she should seek further signatures (Farington vol.15, p.5390). Three days later, he noted in his diary that Mrs Pether called on him to show him a printed paper, published by her late partner, Thomas Thornton, offering pencils 'made agreeable to the late Mrs. Pether’s invention', and that he was under the patronage of the members of the Royal Academy, a claim which brought a sharp rebuttal from some academicians. This printed paper has not been traced, unless it can be identified with the trade card of Pether & Co, advertising ‘Improved Black-Lead & Chalk Pencils (Invented by the late A. Pether, esq. F.S.A’), as being under the exclusive patronage and recommendation of the President and members of the Royal Academy. Pether & Co's card advertised the availability of lead pencils from deep black (BB) to extremely hard (HHH), and of black chalk from soft (SS) to hard (H).

Updated March 2013, December 2020
Phiner (also spelt Phine, Phinner, Phinnier), Fleet Bridge, London 1677, 1681. Colourman.

Phiner supplied colours, linseed oil and brushes to Charles Beale (qv) in 1677 and 1681 (the two years for which Beale’s diary notebooks survive, see Talley 1981 pp.289-90, Bustin 1999 p.44). Among the colours supplied in 1677 were ‘Spanish Cakes & Colours’, Cerise (some for priming), Umber, ‘ordinary Blew-Black’, ‘rich fine smalt’, ‘deep Terra Vert’ and ‘good Blew bice’; also ‘excellent Black Chalk’, which was ‘ready cutt into pieces fitt for drawing upon, being sharpened’ and ‘best Flemish linseed oile’ (Beale’s diary notebook in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, transcript by Richard Jeffree, typescript in National Portrait Gallery archive).

Phiner has been identified as the colourman, Fenn (qv), active 1651-55 in Purpoole Lane, Gray’s Inn, a suggestion in need of confirming evidence (Hunting 2019 pp.142-3).

*James Pinnick 1850-1856, stationer, Pinnick Brothers 1857, artists’ colourmen, carvers and gilders, picture framemakers. At 50 High St, Camden Town, London 1850-1857.

James Pinnick (c.1811-1858) was listed in the 1851 census at 50 High St, Camden Town, as a stationer and bookseller, age 40, with wife Elizabeth, age 40, and two sons, James and Charles, ages 17 and 16, both hosiery clerks. These two sons traded briefly as Pinnick Brothers until announcing the dissolution of their partnership as from 31 December 1857 (London Gazette 5 January 1858). The father died in 1858, leaving an estate worth £7177. The adjoining property to his was occupied by his wife, trading as a baby linen warehouse in 1856. Nearby the Dalziel printing works, the Camden Press, opened at 53 High St in 1857. A canvas with the Pinnick Brothers mark has been recorded; an example is Thomas Whittle’s Landscape with Horses and Cart, 1857 (Lady Lever Art Gallery, Port Sunlight, see Morris 1994).

Updated August 2019
Pitet Ainé & Cie, Paris, artists’ brushmaker, see G.H. Saunders.

The business held an account with Roberson, 1850-3, 1863 (Woodcock 1997) and Roberson made extensive purchases from Pitet, 1855-1907, and probably earlier and later, of colours, crayons, pastels, stumps, papers, easels, mannequins and walnut lay figures, prepared ivories, canvas pins etc (Hamilton Kerr Institute, MS 183-1993, 204-1993, 232-1993). Pitet Ainé & Cie published its own catalogue in English in September 1909 (Pencils Brushes and Artists’ Materials, 64pp).

Added March 2018, updated March 2020
E. Ploton (Sundries) Ltd, 14 Cheapside, London EC2 1951, showroom 20 Marchmont St, WC1 1953-1964, 273 Archway Road, N6 5AA (‘opposite Highgate Underground’) 1965-2006. Suppliers of gilding and artists’ materials.

E. Ploton (Sundries) Ltd was incorporated on 17 December 1948 and voluntarily dissolved on 22 January 2008 (company records online). In its Gilding & Artists Materials catalogue of May 1998, the business described itself as suppliers of gold leaf for over fifty years.

The origins of the business, or at least of the name, may lie with Etienne Ploton, apparently the Etienne Jean Marie Ploton, of 7 Russia-row, Milk St, London, manufacturers' agent, who was subject to bankruptcy proceedings in 1887 (London Gazette 11 November 1887). He was recorded as a silk agent or merchant in the 1891 and 1911 censuses as French, born c.1853, with his wife Berthe, but without children. He was trading with Joannes Martel as silk merchants at 33 Old Change, London, E.C by 1906 until the partnership was dissolved in 1914 (London Gazette 13 January 1914). His death has not been traced in English records, suggesting that he may have returned to France. A business, E. Ploton Ltd, traded in the City, as general importers in 1915, as commission agents in 1932, as Chinese and Japanese produce in 1939, as silks, gold leaf, foils, powders at 14 Cheapside in 1948-52, as silk merchants at 14 Cheapside in 1951 and as textile agents in 1958 (London Post Office and telephone directories). This business presumably takes its name from Etienne Ploton.

At the same address as E. Ploton Ltd, 14 Cheapside, but only in 1951, E. Ploton (Sundries) Ltd, can be found trading in blocking foils; this business re-emerges in 1953 trading from 20 Marchmont St as ‘blocking foils & materials & artists’ colourman & materials dealer’ (Kelly’s Post Office Directory, 1954). Alfred Farmer took over the business sometime in the 1950s; previously an accountant, he had got involved when doing Ploton’s accounts at a time that the business was run by a Mr Holyoake (information from Alfred’s son, the late Andrew Farmer, October 2009). Ploton’s moved out of the centre of London to a rather obscure location in Archway Road, opposite Highgate Underground station, in 1964 or 1965, but not far from Tufnell Park where Alfred and his wife, Mary Elizabeth lived. Little is recorded of the business’s activities at this period.

Alfred and his wife were recorded as directors in Ploton’s 1984 price list, the earliest so far located. Company records available online provide information for the period 1991-2008. Alfred Farmer, 1991-3, Mary Elizabeth Farmer, 1991-5, and their son Andrew Farmer, 1991-5, were directors. Their daughter Mrs Jane Vich, 1991-5, followed by her husband Amadeo Vich, 1995-2008, were company secretaries for the business; both were also directors.

In 1971 E. Ploton (Sundries) Ltd advertised as successor to Lechertier Barbe Ltd (qv), a long-standing firm which had closed in 1968 (The Artist, vol.82, November 1971, p.67). While some of Lechertier Barbe’s trading lines such as etching materials were sold off to C. Roberson & Co Ltd, the goodwill and many other artists’ materials were acquired by Alfred Farmer and his wife. They continued to sell Lechertier Barbe watercolour boxes and brushes at Ploton’s, where various artists came to buy these brushes (information, November 2006, from the late Andrew Farmer, who owned the dormant Lechertier Barbe company and later traded as the Gilders Workshop Ltd at Thornwood in Essex, in particular selling Lechertier Barbe brushes).

Stuart Stevenson, an employee at Ploton’s in the 1970s, recalls collecting vast quantities of papers and sable brushes stored at the premises of W.Y. Rhind Ltd (qv), a company owned by Lechertier Barbe. Many of Ploton’s hogs and sable brushes were made by a Mr Hill, an elderly brush maker in Enfield who had supplied Lechertier Barbe (information from Stuart Stevenson).

E. Ploton (Sundries) Ltd’s demise was signalled in 2006: ‘The artists' materials shop E Ploton (sundries) Ltd at 273 Archway Road N6 has recently closed and the interesting period shop front (pre-Second World War?) is likely to be destroyed.’ (GLIAS Greater London Industrial Archaeology Society, Notes and news, June 2006).

Trade in artists’ materials: Ploton’s stocked Lefranc materials for many years. As early as 1951 the business advertised as sole importers of Lefranc materials (The Artist, vol.41, April 1951, p.v) and in 1965 it advertised as distributors of Lefranc & Bourgeois artists’ materials, including ‘Lustral’ acrylic colours (The Artist, vol.69, April 1965). The compiler of the present history recalls that when he worked as a curator at nearby Kenwood House, 1973-83, Ploton’s was a convenient source for gilding and other materials.

One of Ploton’s best known customer in the 1970s was Lucian Freud. He came to the business for the papers and then the brushes they had purchased from Lechertier Barbe when this firm closed. Other customers included Frank Auerbach, Arthur Boyd, Richard Hamilton, Leon Kossof and Sidney Nolan, who ordered large 60 x 40 ins canvases. Trade customers included George Rowney & Co for certain French easels and Alfred Hecht for gold leaf. (Information in this paragraph kindly provided by Stuart Stevenson, 16 January 2020).

In January 1997, from Ploton’s trade catalogue, the business was stocking an extensive range of gold and metal leaf and gilding accessories, as well as some Liquitex products, Winsor & Newton oil and water colours etc, Lefranc & Bourgeois oil colours, easels, stretchers and canvas, Arches watercolour papers, Fredrix canvas boards and a very wide range of brushes (Gerand-Golden Synthetic, Whistler, Leonard, Lechertier and Edmas), as well as Conte products and Caran d’Ache crayons. Ploton’s expanded May 1998 catalogue included an even greater range of brushes.

Polak and Co 1880-1931. At Bedford Passage, Charlotte St, Fitzroy Square, London 1880-1881, 65 Charlotte St 1882-1889, 63 Wardour St 1890-1905, 7 Charles St 1896, 14 Bateman St, Soho Square 1906-1931. Carvers and gilders, later art dealers.

See British picture framemakers on the National Portrait Gallery website. The business advertised ‘The Patent Compressed Art Panels, (The "J.M. MacIntosh.”) Never Warp. Never Crack. The Cheapest and Best Panel in the Market’ (The Year's Art 1899, 1900). These wood pulp boards had been patented in 1893 and were later sold by Newman (Alexander W. Katlan, ‘Early wood-fiber panels: masonite, hardboard, and lower-density boards’, Journal of the American Institute for Conservation, vol.33, no.3, pp.301-6).

Arthur Pond, Covent Garden Piazza, London 1727-1735, Great Queen St 1735-1758. Portrait painter, print publisher and seller, picture dealer and picture restorer.

See British picture restorers on the National Portrait Gallery website.

Updated August 2019
Richard Jones 1772-1788, Jones & Pontifex 1788-1799, William Pontifex 1794-1804, William Pontifex & Co 1803-1804, William Pontifex, Harvey & Co 1805 (at 98 Houndsditch), William Pontifex, Goldwin & Co 1803-1806, William Pontifex, Russell Pontifex & E. Goldwin (or ‘& Co’) 1805-1811, William & Russell Pontifex 1808-1813, William Pontifex, Son & Wood (or ‘& Co’) 1813-1820, William Pontifex, Sons & Wood 1821-1839, Edmund & William Pontifex & J. Wood (Pontifex & Wood), 1839-1888, Pontifex & Wood Ltd 1888-1892. At 11 Jewin St, London 1770s?, 47 Shoe Lane by 1785, 48 Shoe Lane by 1788, 46 Shoe Lane by 1794, 98 Houndsditch 1802-1806, 49 Shoe Lane by 1819, 50 Shoe Lane by 1819, 63 Whitechapel 1829-1831, 46-49 Shoe Lane until 1837, better known as the Farringdon Copper Works, Shoe Lane from c.1834, and at other addresses. Coppersmiths and copper plate makers.

Richard Jones (d.1788) took William Pontifex (1766-1851), his brother’s nephew, as apprentice in 1780 (Pontifex 1977 p.19). Following Jones’s death in 1788, the business continued in the Pontifex family in a series of changing partnerships until the late 19th century, including William’s brother, Russell Pontifex (qv) for a few years in the early 19th century. It became a substantial enterprise, trading in various copper and related products as well as plates for engraving.

Richard Jones; Jones & Pontifex: Richard Jones was active by 1772, if not before. He used his rococo trade card as a coppersmith at 11 Jewin St to advertise copper plates for engravers and calico printers, as well as coppers for brewers etc (Victoria and Albert Museum, repr. Bentley 2007 p.754; another filed with Banks coll., 85.81). In a later card, as Jones, copper platemaker at 47-48 Shoe Lane, he illustrates ‘A New Invented Machine for Polishing Copper Plates for Callico printers, Engravers, which makes them exceeding smooth & level’ (Heal coll., 85.167; reissued by Jones & Pontifex, Heal coll., 85.168). Jones took William Pontifex as apprentice in October 1780 (Pontifex 1977 p.19). He died in 1788, describing himself in his will, made 11 July and proved 20 September 1788, as a copper plate maker of 47 Shoe Lane. He left his estate to his wife Mary and made provision for her to carry on the business until their son John reached the age of 21 and could be taken into partnership. But this was not to be.

On 25 December 1788, several months after Jones’s death, William Pontifex contracted with Jones’s widow, Mary, to take over her trade as a copper plate maker on payment to her of an annuity of £80 for seven years and thereafter £40 (Pontifex 1977 p.19). William Pontifex then traded as Jones & Pontifex but not in partnership: as Mary Jones explained in a deposition in 1791, she was not a joint partner but allowed Pontifex to use her name in his business for his advantage in return for an annuity (Pontifex 1977 p.19). Pontifex used his trade card as Jones & Pontifex, coppersmiths at 47 Shoe Lane, with added date 1790, to advertise copper and brass plates for engravers and calico printers, among other goods (Banks coll., 85.82; another example repr. Bentley 2007 p.755). William Pontifex, copper plate printer, took out insurance at 47 Shoe Lane in July 1792 (London Metropolitan Archives, Sun Fire Office policy registers, 388/602363).

William Pontifex; Pontifex, Goldwin & Co; William & Russell Pontifex to 1813: William Pontifex’s family came from Iver in Buckinghamshire. His father, William Pontifex (1746-1824), married Hannah Loughton in 1765, and had a large family of whom William Pontifex (1766-1851) and his brother, Russell Pontifex (1775-1857), became coppersmiths, for a time in partnership. William Pontifex married Mary Bailey at St Bride Fleet St in 1789 and had seven sons, including Edmund, William and Alfred, of whom more below.

William Pontifex traded under his own name following the death of Mary Jones in 1793. As coppersmith and copper plate maker, he advertised from 46 and 47 Shoe Lane in 1799 (The Times 21 August 1799). He took as apprentices William Gambell in 1789, George Boyce, Thomas Peirce and James Wood in 1793, John Shafe in 1794, Thomas Shearman in 1797 and Jabez Phillips in 1800, and many more subsequently, including his own sons, Edmund in 1805, William in 1809 and Alfred in 1814 (Pontifex 1977 p.20; see also Gloria Clifton, Directory of British Scientific Instrument Makers 1550-1851, 1995, p.220). James Wood, son of John Wood, a labourer from Mitcham in Surrey, subsequently became a partner in the business.

William Pontifex entered into a number of different and changing partnerships in the 10 years following 1803, trading with different partners at one premises or another. In Holden’s 1805 directory, he appears three-time: as William Pontifex, Russell Pontifex & E. Goldwin, coppersmiths and founders at 46-48 Shoe Lane, as William Pontifex, Harvey & Co, coppersmiths at 98 Houndsditch, and as William Pontifex, founders at 139 High Holborn.

In more detail, Pontifex entered into partnership with William Harvey and his nephew Edward Goldwin (c.1774-1824?), apparently as Pontifex, Harvey & Co at 98 Houndsditch, off Bishopsgate (Pontifex 1977 p.20) and, in Shoe Lane, as Pontifex, Goldwin & Co, as the business was generally known from at least January 1803 when it advertised second-hand coppers for sale to brewers and distillers (The Times 28 January 1803). In 1804, Pontifex was employing 25 men at 46-48 Shoe Lane and another twelve in the Houndsditch premises (Pontifex 1977 p.20). An illustrated 4-page trade sheet as William Pontifex, Russell Pontifex and E. Goldwin, coppersmiths, founders and copper plate makers at 46-48 Shoe Lane, offered plates for engraving and included an extensive stock list of other copper products (Banks coll., 85.126). A view of the interior of their copper and brass works at 46- 48 Shoe Lane was published by Pyne & Nattes (example, London Metropolitan Archives, see Collage at

In 1806 William Pontifex withdrew from his partnership with Harvey and Goldwin as coppersmiths at 98 Houndsditch, leaving them to carry on the business there, while he took control at Shoe Lane (London Gazette 2 September 1806; Pontifex 1977 p.20), where he entered into partnership with his younger brother Russell for seven years, perhaps as early as 1804 (Pontifex 1977 p.20). William’s son, Edmund, was taken into partnership in November 1811 at the early age of 20 (Pontifex 1977 p.20). Russell withdrew from this partnership, trading as William Pontifex, Son and Russell Pontifex, in 1812 or 1813 (on 19 November 1812 according to Pontifex 1977 p.20; on 24 June 1813 in London Gazette 26 June 1813). At this time, Russell Pontifex set up independently in Lisle St in the West End (see below).

Pontifex & Wood from 1813: When James Wood appeared as a witness in a court case on 2 June 1813, he stated that he was in partnership with William Pontifex and his son of the same name; in another court case in 1821, he named his partners as William, Edmund and William Pontifex junr (Proceedings of the Old Bailey). William senr retired from business at the age of 53 in January 1820, leaving his two sons in control, subject to paying him an annuity plus rents (Pontifex 1977 p.21), although the business continued to trade as William Pontifex, Sons & Wood. In 1825, the partners were named as Edmund and William Pontifex junr and James Wood, and in another court case in 1826 the business was described as employing more than 100 men (Proceedings of the Old Bailey). James Wood (c.1779-1842) retired in 1830 (Pontifex 1977 p.21), leaving Edmund Pontifex (1791-1870) and William Pontifex junr (1793-1870) in control, apparently in partnership with his son, James Wood junr, who remained in the firm for forty years as head clerk (Pontifex 1977 p.21).

William Pontifex, Sons & Wood’s business at the Faringdon Copper, Brass & Lead Works adjoining Faringdon market in Shoe Lane, was diverse, as can be seen from the business’s trade card, which featured ‘Plates for Engraving’ as the final item in a long list commencing with coppers and stills and including pipes, pumps and boilers among many other items. A view of their premises was published in 1823 by Robert Banks after Mary Banks, View of Oldbourn Hall, Shoe Lane, lettered: ‘Situated on the East Side of Shoe Lane…. In the occupation of Messrs Pontifex Sons and Wood Copper and Brass Founders’ (example, British Museum). It would appear that Oldbourn Hall included 46, 47 and 48 Shoe Lane, and probably also 44 and 45.

E. & W. Pontifex & Wood’s various products and processes were described in some detail in 1842 (George Dodd, Days at the factories: or, The manufacturing industry of Great Britain described, 1843, pp.526-48, ‘A Day at a Copper and Lead Factory’, especially p.545 on copper plates for engravers, first published Penny Magazine, vol.11, 1842, pp.249-56, accessed through Google Book Search). Edmund and William Pontifex set up the Millwall Lead Works in about 1843 (Survey of London, vol.43, Poplar, Blackwall and Isle of Dogs, 1994, pp.486-7).

The later history of the business is not traced here beyond noting that Edmund retired in 1853 (Pontifex 1977 p.23) and was followed by his son, Edmund Alfred Pontifex (1828-1909). In 1892 Pontifex & Wood Ltd was taken over by Haslam Foundry and Engineering Co Ltd of Derby (Derbyshire Record Office, GB 0026 D1522) and Oldbourn Hall demolished and the site taken over by the Evening Standard newspaper.

Copper plates for engravers: Copper plates made by this business have been traced from the late 1770s to the 1840s.

Plates for works by or associated with William Blake include four possibly by Blake when apprentice to James Basire for Richard Gough’s Sepulchral Monuments, engraved by 1779, marked: JONES N0 48/ SOHO LONDON (Bodleian Library, see Bentley 2007 p.752, Sung 2009 pp.63, 75, 119, 121), Blake’s large plate after Hogarth’s The Beggar’s Opera, etched 1788, marked: JONES N0 48[?]/ SHOE LANE LONDON (Houghton Library, Harvard University, see Bentley 2007 p.752, Sung 2009 pp.75, 119, 121, 135), several plates from Blake’s Songs of Experience, 1794, similarly marked (Bentley 2007 p.752, as observed from impressions or electrotype plates in various collections, see also Sung 2009 pp.66-7, 135) and America a Prophecy, 1793, plate fragment, marked: JONES AND/ PONTIFEX, No 47/ SHOE LANE LONDON (National Gallery of Art, Rosenwald coll., see Phillips 2004 p.25, Bentley 2007 p.754, Sung 2009 pp.65-6, 73, 121). Plates supplied by William and Russell Pontifex include the William Blake and Thomas Butts collaboration, Christ trampling on Satan, c.1806, marked WILLm & RUSSll/ PONTIFEX & COMPny/ Nos 46, 47 & 48/ SHOE LANE, LONDON (Pierpont Morgan Library, New York, see Bentley 2007 p.741, Sung 2009 pp.76, 136). For later Blake plates, see under Russell Pontifex below.

Richard Jones supplied the plate used by John Hall for his print after Gilbert Stuart’s Isaac Barré, 1787, marked: JONES No. 4[] SHOE LANE LONDON (Victoria and Albert Museum, see Sung 2009 p.135).

Thomas Gainsborough is supposed to have used two of Jones & Pontifex’s copper plates, for a mezzotint, Wooded Upland Landscape, c.1783, and a soft ground etching, Wooded River Landscape, mid-1780s, both marked: IONES & PONTIFEX, No 47 SHOE-LANE LONDON (Tate, see John Hayes, Gainsborough as printmaker, 1971, and The Tate Gallery 1970-1972, 1972, pp.58-60). However, the partnership, Jones & Pontifex, is not documented before December 1788, following Gainsborough’s death, meaning that the dating and attribution of the above works need to be reconsidered.

Thomas Bewick paid Jones & Pontifex more than £10 for copper plates in 1789 and made subsequent payments to Pontifex & Co/Son in 1797, 1806, 1811, 1815, 1816, 1819 and 1820 (Bentley 2007 p.754 n.117).

Plates supplied by Pontifex include Francesco Bartolozzi’s Annibale Carracci, 1796, marked: PONTIFEX / 46 SHOE LANE / LONDON (Victoria and Albert Museum, see V&A collections database). Plates supplied by William and Russell Pontifex from Shoe Lane include James Ward’s for his mezzotint of Joshua Reynolds’s Lord Ashburton, Lord Shelburne and Colonel Barré, c.1807 (Stipple website at, accessed September 2011 but no longer available) and J.M.W. Turner’s for Glaucus and Scylla in his Liber Studiorum (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, see Sung 2009 p.122).

Goya used plates made by William and Russell Pontifex & Co, for his Disparates and Tauromaquia series (with the same or very similar stamp as Blake’s Christ trampling on Satan, see above) (see Nigel Glendinning, ‘La problematica historia de los Disparates y su interpretacion carnavalesca’, in Francisco de Goya. Grabador: instantáneas: Disparates, Madrid, Caser 1992, p.19, note 1).

Plates supplied by William Pontifex Son & Co from 46 Shoe Lane include James Godby after James Tassie’s Charles Townley, 1812, marked: WILLM PONTIFEX SON & Co/ No.46/ SHOE LANE LONDON (National Portrait Gallery, D17009), George Cruikshank’s Mathews as the old Scotch Woman as frontispiece to The Theatrical Olio, 1820 (Houghton Library, see Sung 2009 p.123), George Richmond’s The Shepherd, 1827 (British Museum) and Edward Calvert’s The Sheep of his pasture, 1827-30, and The Bride seeketh thee, 1828, both marked: WILLM PONTIFEX. SON & Co/ No 46/ SHOE. LANE. LONDON (both British Museum).

The Edinburgh engraver and printer, William Home Lizars, used two Pontifex plates for The Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, 1822, marked: Willm Pontifex Son & Co/ No.46/ Shoe Lane London (National Records of Scotland, SRO25/9) and was responsible for printing the work of Prideaux John Selby on Pontifex plates (Sung 2009 p.120). Also in the National Records of Scotland are three plates for Liber Sancte Marie de Melros, published by the Bannatyne Club, Edinburgh, 1837, marked: Wm Pontifex Son & Wood/ No.46, 47 48 & 49/ Shoe Lane London, three plates for The Acts of the Lords of the Council in Civil Causes. 1478-1495, 1839, and for The Acts of the Lords Auditors of Causes and Complaints. 1466-1494, 1839, marked: Willm & [ ] Sons/ Pontifex & Compy/ Nos.46, 47 & 48/ Shoe Lane London, and a plate used for The Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, 1844, marked: W Pontifex Son & Wood/ No.46, 47, 48 & 49/ Shoe Lane London (National Records of Scotland, SRO25/12, SRO25/10, SRO25/9).

Sources: Claud E.C. Pontifex, The Family of Pontifex of West Wycombe, Co. Buckingham, 1500-1977, Hassocks, Sussex, 1977. For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.

Russell Pontifex 1802, William Pontifex, Russell Pontifex & E. Goldwin 1805-1811, William & Russell Pontifex (& Co) 1808-1813, Russell Pontifex 1814-1828, Russell Pontifex & Co 1825-1829, Russell Pontifex & Son 1826-1833, Russell Pontifex 1834 [subsequently Russell Pontifex and/or one of his sons seems to have traded with Stiles at 23 Lisle St and in changing arrangements (see below) at Upper St Martin’s Lane], Pontifex & Stiles 1835-1848, William Stiles 1840-1857. At 126 Bunhill Row 1802, 46-48 Shoe Lane 1805-1813, 5 Lisle St, Soho, London 1814-1816, 23 Lisle St 1813-1857, 22 Lisle St 1818-1819. Initially a watchcase maker, from 1806 copper plate makers and coppersmiths.

Russell Pontifex & Co 1827-1829, Russell Pontifex & Son 1830-1834, Russell Pontifex 1834, Russell Pontifex & Co (apparently Pontifex, Farr and Yeowell) 1835-1836, Pontifex & Farr 1837, Russell Pontifex 1839-1841, Pontifex & Mallory 1842-1853, Russell Pontifex 1854-1859, Russell Pontifex & Son 1860-1868, Russell and Alfred Pontifex 1869-1872, Russell Pontifex & Co 1873-1885, Russell Pontifex & Son 1886-1892, Russell Pontifex & Co 1893-1915. At 15-16 Upper St Martin’s Lane 1827-1849, 14 Upper St Martin’s Lane 1851-1915. Copper and engineering works.

Russell Pontifex traded initially with his older brother, William (see above), in Shoe Lane before setting up independently in Soho in about 1813. He and his family traded in or around this area over the next hundred years, as coppersmiths and copper plate makers, in changing partnerships which appear to have extended over three generations.

Russell Pontifex (1775-1857), son of William Pontifex (1746-1824) and Hannah Loughton, was born at Beaconsfield in 1775. He was apprenticed to Messrs Styles & Co, coppersmiths, in about 1789 (Pontifex 1977 p.45). He married Elizabeth Brown (c.1779-1832) in about 1797 and they had at least 12 children between 1798 and 1823. From the children’s places of birth, it is possible to trace the movement of the family from Primrose St, Bishopsgate without, in 1798, to Bunhill Row, 1799-1803 (trading as a watchcase maker), Shoe Lane, Holborn, 1805-9 (trading as a copper plate maker in partnership with his brother), and finally to 23 Lisle St, Leicester Square from 1813 onwards (trading independently). His wife died in September 1832.

By 1806, and perhaps as early as 1804, Russell Pontifex entered into partnership with his older brother, William (1766-1851), for seven years as William & Russell Pontifex (see above and Pontifex 1977 pp.20, 45). Russell withdrew from this partnership in 1812 or 1813, at which time it was trading as William Pontifex, Son & Russell Pontifex (Pontifex 1977 p.20 as from 19 November 1812; London Gazette 26 June 1813 as from 24 June 1813). Russell Pontifex then set up independently in Lisle St in the West End. He took out insurance from Lisle St in 1818 (Guildhall Library, Records of Sun Fire Office, vol.474 no.944467).

Russell Pontifex issued a trade card, perhaps dating to the 1830s, as Russell Pontifex & Son, copper, steel and brass plate makers from 15-16 Upper St Martin’s Lane and 23 Lisle St, claiming to stock ready-made plates of all sizes (Victoria and Albert Museum, repr. Bentley 2007 p.759). The business seems to have split in two in the mid-1830s, perhaps when Russell Pontifex retired. One son, John Pontifex (1823-68), traded in partnership with William Stiles, a relation by marriage, as coppersmiths and gas fitters at 102 Goswell St, Clerkenwell, and 23 Lisle St until 1848 (London Gazette 21 April 1848), subsequently emigrating to Australia in 1849. Another son, Russell Pontifex (1811-95), traded with Henry Mallory, his brother-in-law, from Upper St Martin’s Lane as Pontifex & Mallory, 1842-53 (London Gazette 8 March 1853).

William Stiles was perhaps related to Sarah Styles (d.1814) who married William Pontifex (1722-73), John Pontifex’s great-grandfather. He himself married Hannah Pontifex in 1825 and they had their first child at 28 Tottenham Court Road in 1826. William Styles of 23 Lisle St died in 1857, making his wife Hannah and Russell Pontifex of Upper St Martin’s Lane his executors, and leaving her his interest in the lease at 23 Lisle St together with his stock and tools so that she could carry on his business if she chose and making provision for his only son, William, to join his mother in business when of age but this does not seem to have happened.

Russell Pontifex, son of the founder of the business, married Eliza Hanks in 1832. He continued to trade from Upper St Martin’s Lane after the breakup of his partnership with Henry Mallory in 1853. He was in partnership with his own son, Russell Pontifex junr (1837-1914), until 1868 (London Gazette 30 June 1868). Russell Pontifex junr, the third of the name, was in partnership with his brother, Alfred Pontifex (1847-1915), until 31 December 1872 (London Gazette 3 January 1873). The business then traded as Russell Pontifex & Co at 14 Upper St Martin’s Lane until 1885 and as R. Pontifex & Son until the partnership between Russell Pontifex and Herbert Russell Pontifex (1860-1945) was dissolved in 1892, with Russell Pontifex carrying on business as R. Pontifex & Co (London Gazette 18 October 1892). Its subsequent history is not traced here.

Other Pontifex family partnerships are not traced here in detail since there is limited evidence as to their activities in producing copper plates for engravers. In summary, Russell’s brother, John Pontifex (1772-1841), appears to have traded under his own name from 1799 or before and then with John Wheeller from 1805 or before as Pontifex & Wheeller, Shoe Lane, coppersmiths, until the partnership was reorganised in 1806 and dissolved in 1809 (London Gazette 12 August 1806, 15 September 1809), with John Pontifex carrying on business, and recorded at 55 Shoe Lane from the late 1790s until his death in 1841. His heirs subsequently traded at this address with Joseph Jacklin as Pontifex, Jacklin & Pontifex, and then in various partnerships between different members of the Pontifex family until the late 1860s. Russell’s son by his first marriage, Joseph How Pontifex (1801-33), described himself as a coppersmith of Little St Martin’s Lane when he made his will in January 1833. Another son also became a coppersmith: Samuel Pontifex (1813-86) traded in partnership with William Farr, his brother-in-law, and Francis William Yeowell as Pontifex, Farr and Yeowell, coppersmiths, brass founders and copper plate makers, Upper St Martin’s Lane, until Yeowell withdrew from the partnership in 1836 (London Gazette 5 July 1836), then as Pontifex & Farr in 1837 and subsequently independently elsewhere as Samuel Pontifex.

Copper plates for engravers: Copper plates made by this business have been traced from the 1810s/1820s to the 1840s. Andrew Geddes used Russell Pontifex’s plates, marked (first line indistinct): R PONTIFEX & C/ 22 LISLE ST/ SOHO LONDON for Richmond Park(?), 1810s or 1820s, Daniel and Elizabeth Terry, 1826, and Man in armour wearing a large-brimmed hat, 1827 (all British Museum, see Sung 2009 p.136).

William Blake used plates supplied by Russell Pontifex for his Book of Job title page (repr. Sung 2009 p.124, apparently 23 Lisle St) and 18 other plates, purchased by John Linnell, 1823, marked, some indistinctly, especially the initial ‘R’: R PONTIFEX & C0/ 22 LISLE STREET/ SOHO. LONDON (British Museum, see Phillips 2004 pp.26-7 n.22, Bentley 2007 p.727, Sung 2009 pp.86-7, 123), as well as seven for illustrating Dante's Divine Comedy, 1827, marked: PONTIFEX & CO/ 22 LISLE STREET/ SOHO. LONDON (National Gallery of Art, Washington, see Phillips 2004 p.27 n.23, Sung 2009 pp.81, 136). John Linnell had previously been commissioned by Pontifex, 1816, to paint a portrait of the Rev. James Upton, which was engraved on a plate supplied by Pontifex, 1818, printed by James Lahee (qv) and published by Pontifex, 1819 (Sung 2009 pp.127-8; impression in British Museum). Linnell continued to use ‘Mr Pontifex’ for copper plates, making payments in 1826, 1827, 1828, 1831 and 1840, but for most of his needs he turned to other suppliers from 1831 (Fitzwilliam Museum, MS 21-2000, 22-2000).

Richard Dighton sometimes used the reverse side of his copper plates (the side impressed with the plate maker’s details), meaning that an imprint of these details may appear in reverse on impressions of the print, as with Dighton’s etchings Thomas Massa Alsager ('The Mirror of the Times'), and Thomas Rowcroft ('A Royal Exchange Consul General'), both dating to 1823, and marked indistinctly: R PONTIFEX & Co/ 22 LISLE STREET/ SOHO LONDON (both National Portrait Gallery, D10808, D9031).

Plates supplied once the business became Pontifex & Stiles can be identified: for Liber Sancte Marie de Melros, published by the Bannatyne Club, Edinburgh, 1837, one marked: Pontifex & Stiles/ 23 Lisle Street, Soho/ London, and three plates used for The Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, 1844, marked: Wm Stiles/ 3 Lisle Street/ Leicester Square/ London. (National Archives of Scotland, SRO25/12, SRO25/9).

William Stiles supplied a few copper plates to Charles Roberson & Co from 23 Lisle St in 1857 but Russell Pontifex & Co at 14 Upper St Martin’s Lane, became a much more important suppliers of plates to Roberson, initially in 1857 but more particularly between 1874 and 1884 (Hamilton Kerr Institute, MS 180-1993, 183-1993).

For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.

Updated March 2014, March 2018, December 2020
James Poole, 163 High Holborn, London 1785-1801. Artists’ colourman.

James Poole (d.1801) was in business at 163 High Holborn by 4 May 1785 when he took out an insurance policy (London Metropolitan Archives, Sun Fire Office policy registers). He appears in land tax records from 1785, sometimes as James John Poole, as the tenant of E. Smart. He was listed in most directories as ‘Colourman to artists’ but in Andrew’s directory, 1789, as ‘Colour to Artists and Frime-cloth (sic) Manufacturer’. Poole’s death was mentioned by Joseph Farington in July 1801 (Farington vol.4, p.1580). In his will, made 16 May and proved 15 July 1801, he left his estate to his wife Sarah for her lifetime, and thereafter to his six brothers and sisters. He was succeeded in business at 163 High Holborn firstly by William Legg (qv), who was in occupation by 1802, and secondly by Thomas Brown (qv) from c.1806. His widow Sarah died at Stratford-on-Avon, aged 83, in 1830 (obituary notice, Jackson’s Oxford Journal 19 June 1830, kindly communicated by Dr Philip Sykas, May 2012).

Poole’s trade card advertised, ‘Superfine/ WATER COLOURS/ Prepared by/ J. POOLE,/ No. 163, High Holborn./ Universally approved/ by the most eminent/ ARTISTS.’ (Banks coll. 89.30, added manuscript date 1786, repr. Ayres 1985 p.86; Heal coll. 89.114). He advertised Swiss crayons in 1786 (Whitley 1928, vol.1, p.335). He stocked Swiss crayons made by Mr Hudson of 18 Angel Court, Princess St, Westminster (Morning Herald 24 January 1787).

There was a James Poole, Long Acre, of the Coachmakers’ Company, who took six apprentices between 1749 and 1769, a Joseph Poole, colourman of the parish of St George Hanover Square, who died in 1754, a James Poole, son of Benjamin Poole of St Botolph, who was apprenticed to Robert Wise in 1756 and admitted to the Weavers Company in 1764, and a James Poole, colourman at 67 Tower St in 1800, but there is nothing linking any of these individuals with the artists’ colourman of 163 High Holborn.

Trade as a colourman: Poole was mentioned by Joshua Reynolds in a note at the end of his pocketbook for 1789. He was probably the James Poole used by Joseph Wright of Derby; part of a letter apologising for the non-arrival of unspecified goods, signed by James Poole and dated 27 August 1788, can be found inserted in Wright’s account book (National Portrait Gallery, see Barker 2009 p.10) and the following year Wright expressed dissatisfaction with his fitch brushes (Barker 2009 p.130).

Poole was used extensively by George Romney (Whitley 1928, vol.1, p.335). For details, see Bustin and especially Brett, in Sources below. Documentation includes Romney’s daybook, 1794-96, which includes his account with James Poole from 13 October 1794 to 31 December 1796 (Yale Center for British Art) and his account and receipt for artist's materials supplied by Poole, 1798-99 (Cumbria Record Office). The earlier account lists canvases, colours, turpentine, linseed oil, poppy oil and stretching frames etc. The later account has no mention of canvases, apart from two very large cloths, including one without a seam on a straining frame 13 feet by 10 feet. On occasion Poole would enlarge or cut a picture for the artist (Brett p.246). Romney’s John McArthur, 1795, is marked: I. POOLE/ HIGH HOLBORN (Scottish National Portrait Gallery, as observed by Harry Woolford, 1957). 

Other artists known through marked canvases to have used Poole in the 1780s and subsequently include Lemuel Francis Abbott (Viscount Bridport, 1795, marked indistinctly: T? POOLE/ HIGH HOLBO[RN]/ LINNEN, and William Cowper, 1792, marked similarly, both National Portrait Gallery) and William Beechey (1st Duke of Montagu, c.1789-91, Sotheby’s 14 April 2011, duty stamp for canvas roll 135 yards long by 75cm wide, marked: J. POOLE./ High Holborn./ British Linen).

In the 1790s, Mather Brown (Sir Edward Astley, c.1790, private coll., marked: J. Poole/ High Holborn/ British Linen, see Dorinda Evans, Mather Brown, 1982, p.196), John Hoppner (Dorothy Jordan, exh.1791, marked: J. POOLE,/ High Holborn,/ British(?) Linen., National Portrait Gallery), Samuel Jennings (Liberty displaying the Arts and Sciences, with duty stamp 1791, Wintherthur Museum, Delaware, repr. Robert C. Smith, Wintherthur Portfolio, vol.2, 1965, p.103), Thomas Stewart (Chevalier d’Éon, 1792, marked: J POOLE/ HIGH HOLBORN/ …. LINNEN, National Portrait Gallery), Gilbert Stuart (George Washington, 1795, National Gallery of Art, Washington, see Ellen Miles, American Paintings of the Eighteenth Century, National Gallery of Art, 1995, p.208), John Opie (Mrs Elliot, with duty stamp 1799, Sudley, Liverpool, repr. Cobbe 1976 p.85, Katlan 1992 p.286) and Thomas Phillips (Rev. James Douglas, 1800, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, information from Jevon Thistlewood.

In the early 1800s or undated, two works after William Hoare(?), Charles Wyndham, 2nd Earl of Egremont, marked: Canvasmaker, Jas. Poole, High Holborn, and Percy O'Brien, 9th Earl of Thomond, marked: James Poole, Linen (?), Petworth House, see C.H. Collins Baker, Catalogue of the Petworth Collection of Pictures in the possession of Lord Leconfield, 1920, pp.94, 98), and Henry Fuseli’s Kriemhild throws herself over Siegfried’s body, 1817?, marked: J POOLE/ HIGH HOLBORN/ LINNEN (Kunsthaus, Zurich, see Caroline Rae, A Technical Investigation into selected works by Henry Fuseli, Postgraduate Diploma in the Conservation of Easel Paintings Final Year Project, Courtauld Institute of Art, 2010, p.35), Francis Bourgeois' Religion in the Desert, marked: Poole/ High Holborn/ London (Dulwich Picture Gallery, see Ingamells 2008 p.98) and John Trumbull (Infant Saviour and St John the Baptist, 1801, marked: Jas. Poole/ High Holburne/ Linen, Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Connecticut, see Kornhauser 1996 p.747; Katlan 1987 p.311).

The late Arthur Kay reported an unlined portrait by Henry Raeburn with the stencil of James Poole, the duty mark and the date 1798 (Arthur Kay, Treasure Trove in Art, 1939, p.163, kindly communicated by Helen Smailes).

Poole was owed £36 by Arthur William Devis in 1798 and £40 by Thomas Lawrence in 1801 (Farington vol.3, p.998, vol.4, p.1525). Sir George Beaumont ordered colours from Poole, 1798 (Farington vol.3, p.1030) and the 3rd Earl of Egremont also used him, 1799-1800, conceivably for canvas for Thomas Phillips to use as described above (Petworth House Archives PHA/7557). Joseph Farington noted that he was unable to obtain Ultramarine from Poole, 1798; he was shown canvases prepared in West's manner at Poole's shop by Daniel, 1803 (Farington vol.3, p.1076, vol.5, p.1958).

For illustrations of this business’s canvas stamps, see British canvas, stretcher and panel suppliers’ marks. Part 1, 1785-1831 on this website.

Sources: Whitley 1928, vol.1, p.335. Katlan 1992 p.461. Mary Bustin, ‘Mrs Robert Trotter of Bush (1788-9)’, Transactions of the Romney Society, vol.2, 1987, pp.9-11. Helen Brett, ‘Miss Sarah Rodbard: A case study of Romney’s painting materials and techniques’, in Alex Kidson (ed.), Those Delightful Regions of Imagination: Essays on George Romney, 2002, pp.223-49. For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.

Updated March 2021
B.B. Powell, 5 St Vincent St, Liverpool 1857-1860, 21 Old Haymarket, Liverpool 1861-1870. Artists’ colourman and paint manufacturer.

Benjamin Blythe Powell (1829-70), son of Thomas and Anne Powell, was baptised at Malpas, Cheshire, in 1829. He can be found in census records. In 1851, living with his parents in Union Place, Liverpool, as a practical engineeer, age, 22. In 1861 at 21 Old Haymarket, Liverpool, as an oil and colourman, age 32, born in Shropshire, wife Mary Ann, age 40. Powell died in 1870, age 41, described as an oil and colourman of Old Haymarket, leaving an estate of under £4000.

Powell’s label can be found on Samuel Walters’ Merchant Ship Robert L. Lane, label ‘From B.B. Powell/ Artists’ Colourman/ and Manufacturer of/ Paints, Colours and Varnishes…21 Old Haymarket, Liverpool’ (New York Historical Society, see Katlan 1987 p.301, repr. Katlan 1992 p.462).

Benjamin Blythe Powell (1800-53), presumably a relative, was in partnership with Samuel Bromfield the younger as Powell & Bromfield, maltsters of Tattenhall, Cheshire, until dissolved in 1845 (London Gazette 3 June 1845). His partnership with John Neven Dathan as ironmongers in Manchester was dissolved in 1849 (London Gazette 27 April 1849).

*Edward Powell senr (active 1724-1744), St Martin-in-the-Fields parish, London. Colourman.

Edward Powell married Martha Vaughton at Lincoln’s Inn Chapel in 1724. They had six children christened in the parish of St Martin-in-the-Fields, of whom three appear to have reached maturity, Edward (b.1727), John (b.1730) and Martha (christened 1734). Edward Powell, colourman of the parish of St Martin-in-the-Fields, died in 1744. In his will, made 13 July 1741 and proved 9 March 1744, he refers to his wife Martha and children John, Martha and Edward.

He is presumably the Powell who supplied colours to Arthur Pond (qv) in 1734 (Lippincott 1983 p.92, Lippincott 1991 p.223). He may possibly have been the Mr Powel, Chandois St, who stocked W. Mayer’s Prussian Blue in 1730 (Country Journal or The Craftsmen 2 May 1730). The business may have been carried on over more than one generation and a link has been suggested to the later business of Edward Powell (see below) (Whitley 1928, vol.1, p.332).

Updated March 2013
Edward Powell junr,
St Martin's Lane, London 1763?, 1774, 96 St Martin's Lane by 1776-1813. Colourman and oilman.

Edward Powell (b.1727?) was presumably the son of the Edward Powell discussed above. ‘Powel’ was listed as a colourman in St Martin’s Lane in Mortimer’s Universal Director, 1763.

Edward Powell can first be identified with confidence in 1774 (Westminster election poll book, p.43). An example of his billhead as oil and colourman, dated 1791, can be found in the British Museum (Heal coll. 89.117). By 1814 Powell’s premises had been taken over by Edward Allen (d.1854), sometimes listed as E.P. Allen, colourman, who remained in business until 1838. In 1828 his premises were described as 'one of the oldest colour-shops in London' (John Thomas Smith, Nollekens and his Times, 1828, vol.2, p.226); the shop front was drawn by several artists, including George Scharf senior in 1829 (British Museum, repr. Peter Jackson, George Scharf’s London, 1987, p.32, naming him as Edward Prascey Allen).

He may be the ‘Powell’ used by the artist and miniature painter, Richard Crosse’, for colours and canvas, 1786-90 (see Crosse’s account book, V&A National Art Library, MSL/1929/2188).

Updated August 2019
George Priest, 31 Navigation St, Birmingham 1849-1865. Artists’ colourman and picture liner.

George Priest (c.1815-1865) was listed in Birmingham in 1849 as artists’ repository, dealer in easels, sketching apparatus, palettes, canvases, prepared millboards, oak and mahogany panels and colour boxes, bookseller and stationer (F. White’s directory, 1849), and later more simply as artists’ colourman (Dix’s General & Commercial Directory of Birmingham, 1858). In the 1851 census, George Priest was listed at 31 Navigation St as an artist, age 35, with wife Hannah, age 33. His death, age 50, was reported in 1865 (Birmingham Daily Post 25 April 1865; St Peter Harborne burial register). The business had an account with Roberson, 1863-4, and as Mrs Hannah Priest, 1865 (Woodcock 1997). By 1866 Mrs Hannah Priest was trading as a dressmaker from 31 Navigation St.

Priest’s canvas mark has been found on Andrew Deakin’s Near Shifnal, 1855, stamped, ‘G. PRIEST/ PICTURE LINER &c/ 31 Navigation St. Birmm./ ARTISTS JOINER &/ General Dealer in Materials./ Wholesale & Retail’ (Christie’s South Kensington, 11 March 1999, lot 118). An example of his mark is illustrated in British canvas, stretcher and panel suppliers’ marks. Part 12, England outside London on this website. Priest accompanied and assisted David Cox on some of the artist’s final field trips to North Wales, 1853-6 (N. Neal Solly, Memoir of the life of David Cox, 1875, p.178). He undertook some framing work for Joseph Gillot (Jeannie Chapel, ‘The Papers of Joseph Gillott (1799–1872)’, online appendix, p.7, Journal of the History of Collections, 2008, vol.20, pp.37-84).

Ann Jemima Provis (active 1795-1797). Amateur artist.

Ann Jemima Provis and her father Thomas offered a secret medium in 1795 as the basis of a system of painting. According to Joseph Farington, a number of artists tried the process in 1797, believing it would achieve a similar effect to Venetian old master paintings; Rigaud, Smirke, Stothard, Hoppner, Farington himself and Westall purchased information on the process, and Daniell, Cosway and Beechey were also involved (Farington vol.3, p.797 etc). The incredulous reception of what turned out to be a disappointing process was caricatured by James Gillray in November 1797, 'Titianus Redivivus; - or - the seven-wise-men consulting the new Venetian oracle' (example in National Portrait Gallery).

For Sir Thomas Lawrence and Ann Jemima Provis, see Thomas Lawrences studios and studio practice on the National Portrait Gallery website.

Sources: John Gage, ‘Magilphs and Mysteries’, Apollo, vol.80, July 1964, pp.38-41 (naming her as Mary Anne Provis); Robert C. Alberts, Benjamin West: A Biography, Boston 1978, pp.225-33 (naming her asMary Ann Jemima Provis). For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.

Added September 2013, updated August 2019
John Pursey 1907-1913, not listed 1914-1915, A.F. Pursey 1916-1926, H.J. Pursey 1927-1935. At 152 Shepherds Bush Road, Hammersmith, London 1907-1913, 1916-1935. Picture framemaker and artists’ colourman.

Herbert John Pursey (b.1873) was born in Islington, the son of John Pursey. His father, a coach smith, had moved to Hammersmith by the time of the 1891 census when Herbert John was described as a grocer’s assistant. In the 1901 census he was listed as an artist colourman, living in Hammersmith with his father. Herbert John Pursey, colourman, married Ada Florence Nixson at St Mary Hammersmith in 1902, with Frederic and Kate Rintoul as witnesses (any connection with the Rintouls who were colourmen earlier in the 19th century remains to be demonstrated).

Herbert John Pursey and his wife traded from 152 Shepherds Bush Road in Hammersmith from 1906 to 1935. He was initially listed in London directories as John Pursey, picture framemaker, and since he was recorded in the 1911 census at this address as an employer working at home as a picture framemaker, with his wife Ada Florence assisting in the business, there is no reason to suppose that directory listings relate to his father.

Little is known of Pursey’s work as a colourman in Hammersmith beyond two canvases used by Lucien Pissarro, a local resident, in 1916: Ivy Cottage, Coldharbour: Sun and Snow, stamped: H.J. PURSEY,/ [PICTURE] FRAME [?] MAKER & ARTISTS’ COLOURMAN/ 152, SHEPHERDS BUSH ROAD,/ HAMMERSMITH, W (Tate, information from Joyce Townsend, see also ‘The Camden Town Group in Context’, research project, at ) and Old Mark's Field, Coldharbour, also stamped (Courtauld Gallery, see Lydia Gutierrez and Aviva Burnstock, 'Technical Examination of Works by Camille and Lucien Pissarro from the Courtauld Gallery', Art Matters, vol. 5, 2013, pp. 13, 16. For an illustration of Pursey’s canvas stamp, see British canvas, stretcher and panel suppliers’ marks. Part 6, O to Y on this website. His paper framing label, from early in his career, reads: H. J. PURSEY/ Wholesale and Retail/ Carver, Gilder, Picture Frame Maker,/ & Artists’ Colorman/ 152, Shepherd’s Bush Road,/ HAMMERSMITH, W./ Old Paintings Relined and Restored. (information from Allan Lewis, November 2016).

Herbert John Pursey travelled to the United States for two years, landing in New York in November 1916 when described as a framemaker, and returning to England in December 1918, when described as an inspector, last resident in Buffalo in New York State. During his absence and in the following years the picture framemaking business at 152 Shepherds Bush Road was listed as A.F. Pursey, that is under his wife’s name, Ada Florence. It was only from 1927 that the business was recorded as H.J. Pursey.

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

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