British artists' suppliers, 1650-1950 - U

A selective resource, 3rd edition October 2011 (*revised entry, **new entry). Updated selectively twice yearly, last updated March 2018. Contributions are welcome, to Jacob Simon at

Resources and bibliography Introduction

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).

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