British artists' suppliers, 1650-1950 - V
An online resource, launched in 2006, selectively updated twice yearly. Last updated March 2020. Contributions are welcome, to Jacob Simon at [email protected].
Added March 2013, updated September 2014
Vallé & Bourniche 1825-1841, Vallé 1841-1845, Vallé veuve 1846, Eugène Bellavoine from 1847. At 3 rue de l’Arbre Sec, Paris 1825-1847 and later. Colour merchants, varnish makers and picture restorers.
Continental suppliers used by British-based artists when abroad are treated in summary detail in this resource. The business of the painter, Michel Belot (1730-92), followed by his widow Marie and his son Michel (b.1762), initially in association with two half-brothers, was one of the most important of the period, supplying canvases and colours to artists and restoring pictures, in particular for the French State. When Michel Belot retired in 1824, Pierre Auguste Vallé (1801-45) and Prince Charlemagne Bourniche (1802-42), two of his pupils, formed a partnership to take on the business as colour merchants and picture restorers in rue de l’Arbre Sec, near the Louvre, advertising as ‘seuls élèves et successeurs de Belot’ (in rivalry to another colourman, Ottoz, who advertised as ‘élève de M. Belot’.
Vallé & Bourniche formed one of the leading Paris businesses of the period, numbering many artists among their customers. In 1839, they claimed to stock ‘tous ce qui concerne les arts, toiles pour peindre de toutes largeurs et longeurs sans couture’, also offering to restore paintings (Almanach-Bottin du Commerce de Paris, 1839). From 1841 it was Vallé who continued the business, followed briefly by his widow in 1846. She advertised in 1846, ‘toiles et enduit hydrofuges pour tableaux, toiles, panneaux hollandais et flamands, vernis spécial pour les tableaux exposés dans les endroits humides, toiles, panneaux, cartons et papiers pour pastel’ (Didot freres, Annuaire Général du Commerce ... Paris, 1846, accessed through Gallica). Many of the above details are taken from the excellent and very full account by Pascal Labreuche (see Sources below). The business was continued by Eugène Bellavoine from 1847 (Constantin 2001 p.51).
Materials used by artists from Britain: George Hayter worked in Paris, 1828-31, exhibiting at the Salon in 1831, and used Vallé & Bourniche’s canvas for Alfred, Count D'Orsay, c.1830, stencilled on stretcher: Toile à la Vénitienne de/ VALLÉ & BOURNICHE/ Seuls Elèves & Sucrs de Belo[t]/ Rue de l’Arbre Sec No 3 (National Portrait Gallery) and for Charlotte and Louisa, daughters of Lord Stewart de Rothesay, 1830, with canvas stamp of Vallé & Bourniche, successors to Belot (Sotheby’s 30 June 2005 lot 96, now Government Art Collection, British Embassy, Paris). It is also worth noting John Vanderlyn’s grid sketch for The Landing of Columbus, 1839, canvas stencilled: BRÈVET D’INVENTION/ TOILE ANHYGROMETRIQUE/ de/ VALLÉ et BOURNICHE/ Mds de Couleurs/ Rue de l’Arbre Sec No. 3. (New York State Office of Parks, see Joyce Zucker, ‘From the ground up: the ground in 19th-century American pictures’, Journal of the American Institute for Conservation.
Sources: Pascal Labreuche in Paris, capitale de la toile à peindre, XVIIIe-XIXe siècle, Paris, 2011, pp.214-36, 348; Stéphanie Constantin, ‘The Barbizon Painters: A Guide to their Suppliers’, Studies in Conservation, vol.46, 2001, pp.51, 62.
Gerard Vandergucht junr, The Golden Head, George St, Hanover Square, London 1757-1758, Vandyke’s Head, Brook St, Grosvenor Square 1758-1762 or later. Printseller, picture dealer, stationer.
Gerard Vandergucht junr (?1739-1762 or later) was the son of the engraver, Gerard Vandergucht (1696-1776), who married Mary Liney in 1725 at St Mary, Marylebone, and had sons by the name of Gerard christened at St George Bloomsbury in July 1734 and July 1739; presumably the first son died young and it was the second who went on to become a printseller. Gerard Vandergucht junr appears to be the individual who married Ruth Holden in 1759 at St Mary Magdalen, Richmond (they had a son, Benjamin, christened in 1769).
The father traded as Gerard Vandergucht senr from Great Brook St in the 1760s (see Ian Maxted, The London Book Trades, 1735-1775: a checklist of members in trade directories and in Musgrave’s Obituaries at http://bookhistory.blogspot.com/2005/12. The father’s death at his house in Lower Brook St was reported in 1776 (Daily Advertiser 18 March 1776). His will, made 14 February and proved 16 March 1776, makes it clear that his son Gerard was dead by then.
Gerard Vandergucht junr traded initially in partnership with W. Austin at the Golden Head, George St, Hanover Square, in 1757 and 1758. In announcing his move to Brook St in May 1758, he advertised prints and drawings for sale, as well as watercolours, crayons, chalks and every other article relating to drawing (Public Advertiser 12 May 1758). He also traded in painted portraits of ‘great and eminent persons’ (Public Advertiser 25 May 1759). Vandergucht used his trade card of 1758 or soon after to advertise that he sold ‘the greatest variety of Japaning, Water Colours, Crayons, Black, Red & White Chalk, India Ink, Port Crayons & every Article relating to Drawing’ (Heal coll. 100.80; W.S. Lewis Library, Farmington, CT, repr. Iain Pears, The Discovery of Painting: the growth of interest in the arts in England, 1680-1768, 1988, p.74). An invoice to Lord Winterton, dated 26 March 1761, for supplying a Dutch ebony frame with papier maché gilt ornaments and for a subscription payment for landscapes, presumably prints, provides evidence of his trading activities (Heal coll. 96.20).
Added September 2013, updated March 2019
Vieille 1865-1872, H. Vieille 1873-1878, H. Vieille & C. Troisgros 1878-1879, H. Vieille & E. Troisgros 1880-1883, Troisgros frères 1883-1904. At 28 rue Breda, Paris 1865-1867, 30 rue Breda 1868-1872, 35 rue Laval 1873-1887, road renamed c.1887, 35 rue Victor-Massé 1888-1904. Manufacturing artists’ colourman, picture liner and restorer.
Continental suppliers used by artists with British connections are treated in summary detail in this online resource. The history of the Vieille & Troisgros business in Paris has been traced back to Ferrod, a manufacturer and seller of colours and varnishes from 1847 to 1864 (Constantin 2001 pp.53-4), but who may have been in business as early as 1844 according to Vieille & Troisgros’s claim in their later trade sheet. Ferrod was followed by his son-in-law, H. Vieille, in 1865, who relocated the shop to 35 rue Laval in 1873. Vieille’s oval-shaped canvas stencil described him as: ‘M[archan]D. DE COULEURS/ Rentoile et Restaure les Tableaux/ Rue Laval 33 PARIS’ (examples, Constantin 2001 p.54; National Gallery of Victoria).
Vieille set up a four-year partnership with C. Troisgros as ‘marchands de couleurs’ in February 1878 (Archives commerciales de la France. Journal hebdomadaire, 10 March 1878, accessed through Gallica). Following Vieille’s retirement, Troisgros frères set up in partnership at 35 rue Laval in March 1883, an arrangement which lasted until the partnership was dissolved in May 1892 (Archives commerciales de la France. Journal hebdomadaire, 12 April 1883, 31 December 1892, accessed through Gallica). They advertised from 35 rue Laval (workshop 105 rue Cardinet) in 1886 (Étienne Arago, Notice des peintures, sculptures et dessins de l'École moderne: exposés dans les galeries du Musée national du Luxembourg, accessed through Gallica). In the Almanach du commerce de Paris in 1889, the business was listed as colour merchants (‘marchands de couleurs’) at 35 rue Victor-Massé and as cabinet makers (‘ébenistes’) and makers of patent easels at 105 rue Cardinet and at 70 rue Tocque-ville.
The Troisgros family had previously traded as framemakers (1844-55), suppliers of photographic accessories (1855-78) and of models, easels and maquettes (1857-78) (Constantin 2001 p.53). This business was perhaps established by Philippe Troisgros, who was the father of Emile and Etienne. Emile Joseph Troisgros married Marie Revel in 1880, when his address was given as 35 rue Laval (Paris marriage banns, accessed through www.ancestry.co.uk). His use of 35 rue Laval as address would suggest that he is the E. Troisgros of ‘H. Vieille & E. Troisgros’, rather than Etienne Paul Troisgros, baptised in 1856, also the son of Philippe Troisgros and his wife Marie Jocalle (Philippe was then described as an ébeniste, the son of Gilbert Troisgros).
The successive businesses of H. Vieille, H. Vieille & E. Troisgros, and E. Troisgros, held accounts with Roberson, 1867-82, from 30 rue Breda and 35 rue Laval (Woodcock 1997). In about 1883 H. Vieille & E. Troisgros were stocking colours from G. Rowney & Co, as well as English watercolour boxes and drawing and watercolour papers (trade sheet, c.1883, see Sources below).
Troisgros frères ceased trading in 1904 (La maison Ferrod Vieille Troisgros | Guide Labreuche; see also Muir p.228, in Sources below).
Connections with artists from Britain: The still-life and landscape painter, John George Todd, used Vieille at 30 rue Breda as a contact address when exhibiting at the Salon in 1868 and at 35 rue Laval in the late 1870s (Crespon-Halotier 2003).
When John Singer Sargent stayed with Claude Monet at Giverny, very probably in 1885, he used a Vieille & Troisgros canvas for his painting, Claude Monet painting by the edge of a wood (Tate). It is stencilled within a palette shape, identical to those below on Monet’s work: H. VIEILLE E TROISGROS Sucr/ 35, RUE DE LAVAL, 35/ PARIS/ COULEURS FINES/ TOILES PANNEAUX. Sargent is not otherwise known to have used Vieille & Troisgros and it is possible that he obtained the canvas from Monet himself or on his recommendation. Sargent’s canvas is size 54.0 x 64.8 cm, that is a toile de 15, smaller than Monet’s usual size. Such a size featured in Vieille & Troisgros’s trade sheet of c.1883, in three grades of canvas, ordinary, fine and semi-fine.
Claude Monet used Vieille & Troisgros since at least 1880 and he described Troisgros in 1886 as his ‘marchand de couleurs’ in a letter to Durand-Ruel (Lionello Venturi, Les Archives de l’Impressionisme, 1939, vol.1, pp.222, 314). He used their canvases in the 1880s and 1890s on the evidence of several works: Wheat Field, 1881 (Cleveland Museum of Art), Rough Weather at Etretat, 1883 stencilled within a palette shape: H.VIEILLE, E. TROISGROS Suc./ 35 RUE DE LAVAL 35/ PARIS/ COULEURS FINES/ TOILES PANNE[AUX] (National Gallery of Victoria), House in Falaise: Fog, 1885, similarly stencilled (Wallraf-Richartz Museum, Cologne) and Gardener’s House at Antibes, 1888, with Troisgros frères stamp (Cleveland Museum of Art). Since the first edition of this online history, Kimberley Muir and others (see Sources below) have established from an excellent analysis of the Art Institute of Chicago collection that probably fifteeen of their works by Monet are on canvases supplied by Vieille & Troisgros or Troisgros Frères.
Sources: Clotilde Roth-Meyer, Les Marchands de couleurs à Paris au XIXe siècle, PhD thesis, Université Paris Sorbonne, 2004, for Paris Almanach addresses; Louise d'Argencourt, European Paintings of the 19th Century, Cleveland Museum of Art, 1999, pp.452, 456, for marked works by Monet. H. Vieille & E. Troisgros/ …/ Fabricants de couleurs surfines, double-sided trade sheet, c.1883, overstamped, E. TROISGROS. S EUR. See also Kimberley Muir et al., ‘Thread count, weave, and ground analysis of Claude Monet’s Vieille & Troisgros/Troisgros Frères canvases in the Art Institute of Chicago’, in Painting Techniques: History, materials, and studio practice, ed. Arie Wallert, 2016, pp.226-36.
For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.