A Superb Victorian Mahogany Artist's Box, for Rogers; of London, Replete with Original Watercolours & Palettes


Origin: English
Period: Nineteenth Century
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1870
Height: 3 inches
Width: 10.5 inches
Depth: 8 inches

A golden mahogany box, with a hinged lid, fitted interior, lower drawer, and original working lock with key.  The hinged lid opens to a fitted interior enclosing rows of original watercolour paints, each in individual ceramic pots and captioned below (red lake, emerald green etc., some of the captions are rubbed), a compartment for charcoal (with several charcoal sticks), one for brushes, two other compartments for other articles, and a ceramic mixing palette which lifts out to reveal a pencil tray below.

On the underside of the lid is the original trade label which reads “Rogers’s Superior London-Made Water Colors… the great superiority of these colors has been proved by the society of arts having awarded Joshua Rogers their large special prize gold medal”, the text within an ornate border of floral scrolls, birds, architecture etc.

The lower drawer contains another contemporary ceramic palette, which bears the maker’s name “C. Roberson & co. ltd., 99 Longacre, London” (Roberson’s were based at 99 Longacre from between 1853-1937), as well as several other oil tubes and pencils, made by long standing companies such as Faber, Winsor & Newton, and Rowney..

Joshua Rogers was listed as an artist’s colourman by the 1840s, he advertised the award of the 'Society of Arts Large Special Prize Council's Medal' in 1853 for the superiority of his colours, brushes, pencils, etc., an award which is elsewhere identified for his enormously famous “Shilling Colour Box”. Around 1872 he had an account with Roberson (the maker of the palette in the lower drawer), who supplied artists materials and colours to several famous nineteenth century artists such as William Holman Hunt, John Millais and Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

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 nearly 150 years ago.