An Early 19th Century Artist's Watercolour Paint Box Set

An Early 19th Century Artist's Watercolour Paint Box Set

Code: 10343


H: 6cm (2.4")W: 21.8cm (8.6")D: 9.8cm (3.9")


An Artist’s Watercolour Box
R. Ackermann & Co., "Repository of Arts", 96 Strand, London
Mahogany with brass fittings, porcelain mixing dishes
and watercolour pigment cakes
English, Circa 1827-1837
21.8 cm wide x 9.8 cm deep x 6 cm tall (approx.)

The hinged lid lifting to a compartment with twelve (12) watercolour cakes and a slot for brushes. Lock (key deficient) and a brass restraining transit pin for the drawer with brass handle beneath, containing three (3) porcelain mixing dishes. The inside of the lid with an engraved label reading:

"R. Ackermann, Superfine and Permanent, Water-Colour Manufacturer, to His Majesty, at his Repository of Arts, 96 Strand. Publisher  of the greatest variety of rudiments and drawing books. Also drawing materials, wholesale and retail, and for exportation. N.B. Drawings and prints framed and glazed and varnished. Drawings lent to copy."

The brush slot with a printed paper label which has a long price-list of colours and gives an interesting insight into the products available from artists colourmen, reading as follows:

"R. Ackermann & Co. 96 Strand, London, Book & Printsellers, & Superfine Water-Colour manufacturer To their Majesties, beg leave to recommend their COLOU[rs to the nob]ility, gentry, and artists, being prepared with the utmost care, price 1s. each Cake, except the follow-ing - Ultramarine, 21s. ;- Scarlet, 6s. ;- [Scarlet?]Carmine, 7s. ;- Carmine, Smalt, Gallstone, Extra Madder Lake, Purple Madder, and Ultramarine Ashes, 5s. Intense Blue, 4s. ;- Pink and Rose Madder, 3s. ;- Cobalt Blue, and Burnt Lac Lake, 2s. ;- Lake, Scarlet Lake, Purple Lake, Sepia, Indian Yellow, Brown, Madder, Permanent White, and Ackermann's Prepared Black, for Inl[ay]ing, 1s. 6d. They may also be had in small Cakes at half the foregoing Prices and in Boxes of all Sizes; together with Drawing-Books and all Requisites for Drawing."

There are very neat manuscript annotations to the rims of the compartments, indicating where colours should be placed. The pigments within the box (which generally correspond to, or are equivalents of the annotations) are as follows:

  • Fragmentary red and black cakes (one seemingly by Wm. Müller the other by Newman's).
  • A cake stamped "Burnt Sienna"  and "Illuminating Colours" (probably Reeves & Son circa 1870's).
  • A fragmented cake of Newman's Soho Square "Raw Sienna".
  • A fragmented cake of Newman's Soho Square "Burnt Sienna".
  • A fragmented cake of Newman's Soho Square "Scarlet Lake".
  • A complete cake of Newman's Soho Square "Indian Yellow".
  • A complete cake of Newman's Soho Square "Prussian Blue".
  • A complete cake of "William Müller 62 High Holborn"  "Indigo" (circa 1847-1863).
  • An almost complete cake of Newman's Soho Square "Cobalt Blue".
  • A complete cake of Newman's Soho Square "Burnt Umber".
  • A near whole "G.R.& Co." [George Rowney & Co]  "Crimson Lake" (mid 19th Century).
  • An entire Newman's Soho Square "Neutral Tint".
  • A near entire cake of "G.R.& Co." [Rowney's]  "Yellow Ochre" (mid 19th Century).
  • A Chinese black inkstick with calligraphic characters to the front and back.

The box can be dated quite accurately to the years between 1827 (when Ackermann changed address to 96 Strand) and 1837 (when Her Majesty Queen Victoria came to the throne). Within the box is a spillikin bearing a small inscription "Payne 1836" in a hand which corresponds to the writing on the compartments. This might suggest the original owner and a firm date for the box.

A similar, though slightly larger, watercolour set, formerly belonging to Emily Brontë and bearing a similar Ackermann's label, was sold by Sotheby's London as Lot 76 in their sale of "English Literature, History, Children's Books & Illustrations", 17th December 2009.


Condition: An attractive set which is generally in very good condition. Minor wear, commensurate with age. Ebony banding missing to the left and right sides edges of the top of the lid (front and back both intact). Porcelain mixing pans/dishes chipped to rims and worn, but seemingly original. Green baize to the bottom faded, worn and holed.