A Splendid Early Victorian Mahogany Artist's Box, for G Rowney & Co' of London, Replete with Original Watercolours & Mixing Palette


Origin: English
Period: Mid Nineteenth Century
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1850-60
Height: 3.25 inches
Width:  9.25 inches
Depth: 7.25 inches

The well patinated mahogany box with ebony stringing, hinged lid, fitted interior, lower drawer, and original working lock (key lacking). Containing original watercolour paints, ceramic mixing pallet, stamped verso, and other smalls including a Winsor & Newton glass bottle.

The hinged lid opens to a fitted interior enclosing rows of eleven (one lacking) original watercolour paints with labels to each for example Indigo, Van dyke etc, a compartment for charcoal (with a large lump of charcoal), one for brushes, two other compartments for other articles, and a ceramic mixing palette. The lower drawer has the original brass campaign style handle and is secured by the brass pin.

On the underside of the lid is the original trade label in pistachio green, which reads “G Rowney & Co Artists’ Colourmen, 51 Rathbone Place London”, the text within an ornate floral border. George Rowney & Co 1848-1923 artists colourmen and pencil makers, were stationed at 51 Rathbone Place from 1817-1862 dating this box to that period.

The business was established as T. & R. Rowney in 1783 by brothers Thomas and Richard Rowney as a perfume maker and wig supplier with a shop on Holborn Hill in London, and soon moved into supplying writing materials and then artists' materials, supplying many well-known artists, including J. M. W. Turner. In their pomp they were notable for 'the array of colour-boxes, the walls of sketch-books, the plantations of brushes and groves of pencils, besides every other species of artistical materials and implements of every variety and in endless quantity'.

A wonderful survival, and with evidence of continued use, this compendium of artistic creativity is a genuine snapshot of nineteenth century artistic life, and an original and lasting monument to the methods and materials used by painters working over one hundred and fifty years ago.