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British artists' suppliers, 1650-1950 - U

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

Resources and bibliography Introduction

Added March 2019
Underdown & Chettle, Market Square, Dover, by 1889-1891, 12 King St by 1889-1896. Gilders and stationers.

Underdown & Chettle were in business by 1889 when they showed oil paintings and watercolours by the Dover artist, Herbert J. Finn (Kent and Sussex Courier 6 December 1889). They were listed as booksellers and stationers in 1891. The partnership between Henry Underdown and Frederick William Chettle, trading as gilders and stationers at 12 King St, Dover, was dissolved in 1896, with Underdown taking on the debts of the business (London Gazette 24 January 1896).

Henry Edwin Underdown (1855-1924) was born in Dover in 1855. He married Amelia Maude Tucker in 1880. In census records he can be found in 1871 as a gilder, age 15, in his father, George’s household in Dover, in 1881 as a carver and gilder, age 26, in Military Road in Dover with his wife and daughter, in 1891 as a carver and gilder, age 35, in King St in Dover with his wife and four young daughters, in 1901 as a stationer and printer, age 47, in King St with his wife and four daughters, and in 1911 as a stationer, age 56, in Dover with his wife and six daughters. He died in 1924, as of 12 King St, Dover, leaving effects worth £8796.

Frederick William Chettle (1850-1927) was born at Thorney in Cambridgeshire in 1850. He married Ellen Ball in Dover in 1884. In census records he can be found in 1881 in Clapham, in 1891 as a stationer in Dover, in 1901 again as a stationer in Dover working on his own account and in 1911 as a Secretary in Dover. He died in 1927 with probate granted in 1929, leaving effects of only £250.

For an illustration of Underdown & Chettle’s canvas stamp on a work of 1893, see British canvas, stretcher and panel suppliers’ marks. Part 12, England outside London on this website.

Updated September 2014
William Urquhart,
138 St Albans Place, London (also known as 138 Edgware Road) 1861 and again 1867-1868, road renumbered 1868, 327 Edgware Road 1868-1908, 7 Church St, Paddington (adjoining Edgware Road) 1867-1870, street renumbered 1870/71, 155 Church St 1871, 153 Church St 1872-1887, 133 Church St 1888-1908 and later, also at Hall Place, Paddington Green 1884-1888, 157 High St, Notting Hill Gate 1884-1908 and later. Varnish and colour manufacturer; artists' colourman by 1885; varnish manufacturer from 1909.

Francis Tuck, or in one instance, his wife, Sarah Tuck, was listed at 138 St Albans Place, Edgware Road as an oil and colour warehouse as early as 1851, continuing until 1866; he had an account with Roberson from November 1863 until December 1865, being recorded as 'Successor to Urquhart' (Woodcock 1997). William Urquhart was his apprentice, according to the 1851 census, and married his master’s daughter, Emily, in 1859. He was listed at 138 St Albans Place in the 1861 census as Colourman, age 27, wife Emily age 26, son Frank William age 7 months, employing 3 men, but then disappears from view until May 1866 when he featured at 138 Edgware Road with an account with Roberson (Woodcock 1997). He was again listed at this address as varnish and colour works in the 1867 Post Office directory, also appearing as an oilman close by at 7 Church St, Paddington. He was not listed as an artists’ colourman until 1890 although certainly trading as such by 1885. The business had three shops in West London and accounts with Roberson from 138 Edgware Road, 1866, and from 157 High St, Notting Hill Gate, 1892-1908 (Woodcock 1997).

Urquhart can be found in the 1881 census living at 107 Portsdown Road, described as a varnish dealer, employing five hands. His son, Frank, was listed in the 1901 census as colour and varnish merchant, age 40, living with his family at 15 Royal Crescent, Kensington. From 1909 the business was listed as a varnish manufacturer in Church St and Notting Hill Gate, and from 1932 until at least 1940 as W. Urquhart Ltd, decorators' merchants.

In his 1885 catalogue as an artists' colourman, from 157 High St, Notting Hill Gate and 327 Edgware Road, Paddington Green, Urquhart advertised Winsor & Newton and G. Rowney & Co’s colours but offered their goods at discount of 25% on the list price (W. Urquhart, Artists' Colorman, catalogue, 40pp, 1 March 1885, by courtesy of Fergus Cochrane; interestingly, this catalogue houses five added inset gilders’ tips). Urquhart also offered plain oak and Oxford frames, gilt Alhambra, Birket Foster and Chippendale frames, and ready mixed paints for household use. The catalogue features advertisements for five schools of art, run by Mrs Wesley Hunt, Mr M.W. Ridley, Mr Elmore, Madame Isabel de Steiger and Miss Florence Graham.

Artists using Uquhart’s materials: The watercolour artist, Alfred William Hunt, used two sketchbooks in 1892 supplied by Urquhart (Ashmolean Museum, see Newall 2004 p.177). Marked canvases include Thomas Somerscales’ Hove-to for a pilot, off the River Plate, 1895, marked: W. URQUHART/ 157, HIGH STREET/ NOTTING HILL GATE/ 327, EDGWARE RD, LONDON W./ C… (Private coll., information from Andrew Gibbs, Gibbs Appraisals Ltd, Ottawa, May 2013) and Moorland Cattle by Briscoe, 1906, marked: W. URQUHART./ NOTTING HILL GATE,/ LONDON, W. (Southampton Art Gallery, information from Cathy Proudlove).

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