The Company's Honorary Curator, Dr Andrew Wilton, will be writing occasional articles on works of art owned by the Company.

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Christopher John Twyman FRSA
Clerk to the Worshipful Company of Painter-Stainers

Oil on board 137 x 61cm
Prov: Presented to the Company by the artist 11.2.2020

Christopher John Twyman - Clerk to the Worshipful Company of Painter-Stainers


Alderman John Browne ?c.1690
Oil on canvas

Alderman John Browne

Browne (died 1532) was appointed one of the suppliers of heraldic painting for the funeral carriage in which the body of Henry VII’s elder son, Prince Arthur, was taken from Ludlow to Worcester in 1502. This is the earliest record we have of him; it was in 1502 that the two companies joined forces, and Duncan Burton thinks that documentary evidence supports the theory that Browne was initially a Stainer, that is, a painter on fabrics rather than on wood or stone.

In 1503 he worked with the King’s Painter John Serle on the funeral decorations for Henry’s wife Elizabeth of York. He next appears at the head of the Book of Painters employed for the decorations at the funeral of Henry VII himself in 1509. He was appointed King’s Painter for Life, 20 December 1511, and from this time on was involved in many important public and state events, including in 1520 the great encampment in Normandy for the meeting of Henry VIII and Francis I of France at the Field of Cloth of Gold.

He was Master of the Company in 1509, but in 1523 became a member of the Guild of Haberdashers. In that year, and no doubt as a consequence of that work, he was sworn as Alderman for the Ward of Farrington Without. He became Master of the Haberdashers in 1526, but his duties seem to have overcome him about that time, as he was discharged from his Alderman’s office on grounds of long-standing ill health.

In 1511 he acquired another appointment, as painter to the Navy, painting banners and streamers and other flags for, among other ships, the Mary Rose and Henry Grace a Dieu. He became the first Serjeant Painter on 12 March 1527. In 1504 he had acquired premises in Hoggen Lane and Little Trinity Lane which he gave to the Company for their first Hall in 1532.

He married twice, firstly to Alice (unknown surname) with whom he had two daughters, Alice, married to Richard Callard, Painter Stainer, and Joanne, married to Edmund Lee, goldsmith. His second wife was Anne Golofre, who also bore him two daughters, Isabell and Elizabeth.

He was never awarded a knighthood, but bore arms, in the form of a ‘shield Argent on a Fess counter embattled sable, 3 escallops of the first, on a canton quarterly gules & azure, a leopard’s mask or’. Some of these elements refer to the decoration of the Field of Cloth of Gold, which was perhaps the crowning achievement of his career. The arms are incorporated into the stained glass of the west window of Painters’ Hall.

The small square portrait in the possession of the Company is clearly not contemporary with Browne, and may be a copy of an earlier picture. It seems to have been executed at some point in the decades around 1700 when many other works, lost or damaged in the fire of 1666, were restored or painted anew. The scrolled trompe-l’oeil cartouche is reminiscent of similar borders to early eighteenth-century portrait engravings, for example by Gerard Van der Gucht in his portrait of Daniel Defoe (1706).

(These notes are heavily indebted to Duncan Burton’s paper ‘In Search of Alderman John Browne, King’s Painter 1511-1527, Sergeant Painter 1527-1532, died 1532 and the reasons for joining together of the Painters’ Company and the Stainers’ Company in 1501 or 1502’, 2014.)

William Camden (1551-1623)
Oil on canvas 67 x 33 ½ in.

William Camden  (1551-1623)
William Camden (1551-1623)

Presented by Silvanus Morgan in 1676, the year in which Morgan was elected Master. Camden is shown three-quarter length, above the inscription on a stone cill. After leaving Oxford with no degree he became Usher of Westminster School, and in 1593 its Headmaster, holding that post until 1597 when he was appointed Clarencieux King of Arms, a position he retained until 1623. In this portrait he wears the tabard of that office. He obtained the favour for the Company, of which his father Sampson was a member, that eight Painter-Stainers should be employed by the College of Arms. The inscription acknowledges his joint membership of the Company with his painter father. He holds a copy of his famous antiquarian work Britannia, published in 1586 as a comprehensive survey of the geography and history of the British Isles, from ancient times to the present, arranged by counties. This was in Latin; an English edition appeared in 1607, with accompanying maps and with an elaborate allegorical frontispiece. The poet and playwright Ben Johnson celebrated Camden in verse:

Camden! That most reverend head, to whom I owe
All that in am I arts, all that I know;
(How nothing’s that?); to whom my country owes,
The great renown, and name herewith she goes!

A traditional attribution to the Dutch artist Daniel Mytens (c.1590-1647), who was prolifically active in England at that period, cannot be sustained stylistically, though it is possible that the original portrait was by him, though it is more likely to have been painted by a member of the Company.

The picture may have been in its present condition when Morgan gave it to the Company in 1676, but other works in the collection, e.g. the portrait of John Browne, suggest that much repainting went on in the post-fire period, and the likelihood is that this canvas too was subjected to comprehensive reworking about that time, though perhaps somewhat later in the eighteenth century. In other paintings and prints Camden stands against a plain background; here he stands rather incongruously in front of a moonlit landscape with a swagged curtain over his head. This romantic landscape is not explained, and would suggest a date considerably later than the early or mid-seventeenth century, as would the general style of the painting. The portrait does not closely resemble the most famous likeness of Camden, by Marcus Gheeraedts the Younger (c.1561/2-1636) in the National Portrait Gallery. Rather, it seems to be related to another likeness, recorded in an engraving by Richard Gaywood (fl. 1660-80) and published in 1661 with this inscription beneath: ‘JOSEPH’S COAT NOBILITY DATIVE the second Booke by S.M. who dedicateth this Effigies, & Remaines of ye Learned Camden Clarentieux, to Sr. Edward Walker (alias Garter Principall King of Armes) for Englishmen’. Walker (1611-77) was a vigorous proponent of the exiled Prince of Wales, Charles, but later abused his authority to grant arms. Gaywood’s print shows Camden very much as in the Company’s portrait: he wears his tabard and has his right hand on a book, though the left hand is not as in the picture but also rests on the book, which lies flat on the cill and is not held upright. The features of the painted portrait are closer to those in this print, which is clearly an idealised likeness.

Camden’s iconography is confusing: the Gheeraedts portrait shows him with a long, thin nose terminating in a small bulb, and a pinched, elderly mouth lacking full dentition, whereas a print after Martin van der Gucht gives him (in his tabard) a nose almost aquiline. This image was almost exactly copied, on a larger scale, by Robert White for the 1695 edition of Britannia, but with the face altered to resemble more closely that in the Gheeraedts picture, which is less idealised and so surely the more reliable likeness. The Gaywood portrait is even more idealised than that by van der Gucht, having a perfectly straight nose; this is the likeness approximately repeated in the Company’s picture.

A pencil copy of the Company’s picture, by Henry Bone (1755-1834), enamellist and miniaturist to George III, George IV and William IV, appears in Bone’s abums of copies after pictures in English collections (three volumes, National Portrait Gallery). It is dated November 1807 and shows the picture very much as it is to be seen today (though without the inscription beneath), with Camden’s features as in Gaywood’s print and the swagged curtain above, but lacking the moonlit landscape.

In 1623, the year of his death, Camden presented a fine cup and cover to the Company and in 1637 the Renter Warden, Thomas Constable, was ordered to make payment for Camden’s portrait. If the present work is that picture (which was presumably executed posthumously), it seems to have been at least retouched at a later date. It is a question whether Gaywood’s engraving was based on the painting, but the alteration in the position of the book and of the left hand would then perhaps have to be explained.

In 1609 Camden took up residence in Chislehurst, Kent, where he died. His house was rebuilt by a later owner, Charles Pratt, who as Lord Chancellor took the title Baron Camden in 1765; Pratt’s house survives as Camden Place (now a golf club) having been the home of the exiled French Imperial family in the 1870s.

Master John Potkin with his Wardens Thomas Carleton and John Taylor

Master John Potkin with his Wardens Thomas Carleton and John Taylor

Unknown artist 1631
Unknown artist
Oil on canvas
Lit: Englefieldp. 18; Borg p.51, repr. in colour fig 22
Exh: Tate Gallery 1972

The condition and recent conservation history of this triple portrait are similar to those of the Pargeter painting, though unlike the latter it has remained in the Company’s collection since it was painted. Potkin, Carleton and Taylor were Master and Wardens of the Company in 1631, and their group portrait was installed in the Hall in September of the following year. This is a notably less elaborate work than the Pargeter triple portrait. It contains no glistening drapery or coats of arms, the table on which Potkin leans is carpeted but otherwise bare, and there are no specimens of work on view except for a modest scroll with three heraldic devices, the arms of the three sitters, rather shyly opened to view by John Taylor on the right. Taylor is of particular interest as the reputed painter of the Chandos portrait of William Shakespeare, in the National Portrait Gallery, the earliest and most plausibly authentic likeness of the playwright. There is a possibility that this picture is his work also, though it is to be noted that Taylor is not shown looking out at the spectator, which was an accepted way for an artist to ‘sign’ his own work. It is at least possible that the Potkin and Pargeter pictures are the work of the same artist, and the fact that the two pictures are similar in general conception and appearance, and were produced within a year of each other, tends to support that suggestion.

Thomas Evans
Marble Bust of Thomas Evans 1680

Marble Bust of Thomas Evans 1680

Edward Pearce (or Pierce) d. 1695

Thomas Evans was Upper Warden in 1664 and Master in 1666-67. Pearce’s bust may date from that time but is generally assigned to a decade later. It is a superlative example of Baroque portrait sculpture, reflecting the influence of Bernini – especially perhaps the bust of Louis XIV of 1665 at Versailles; another fine bust by Bernini, that of Sir Thomas Baker, dating from 1638, was in England, in Sir Peter Lely’s collection, by 1680 (it is now in the Victoria and Albert Museum). But Pearce’s bust is an assured and imaginative work in its own right. The spectacular undercutting of the sumptuously curled wig and the delicate lace bands at his neck are incorporated into the easy rhythms of an entirely natural and unforced pose which is at the same time grand and expressive of vigorous movement.

Most sculpture of the time to have come down to us with the artist’s name attached is by practitioners from abroad – van Nost, Rysbrack etc. Pearce reveals himself here as an independent master worthy to stand alongside them, and indeed was a prolific and celebrated artist, a sculptor in both wood and stone as well as painter, in his day. His father, also Edward, was a Painter-Stainer who died in 1658, an artist ‘of some repute’, as the Dictionary of National Biography says, as a painter of decorative panels and altarpieces for City churches, though none of these are extant.

Pearce attracted attention when he executed wood-carvings for Sir Charles Wolseley at Wolseley Hall, and went on to carry out much work for Wren at St Lawrence Jewry and several other City churches, as well as the Guildhall. The dragon on the weather-vane of St Mary le Bow was designed by him.The wooden swags and drops that he carved in 1664 to flank the front door of Painters’ Hall have survived the vicissitudes of fire and bombing, and are now in the entrance of the new Hall, and his glass-painting of the Royal Arms is also preserved in the Court Room.

In 1685, at the expense of the Fishmongers, he produced a statue of Queen Elizabeth for the Royal Exchange, for which place he also made a statue of Sir Thomas Gresham. His bust of Wren is in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.

His work was held in high esteem both in England and abroad. Rupert Gunnis, in his Dictionary of British Sculptors 1660-1851 (London 1951), records a party given by the antiquary John Talman (son of the architect William Talman) in Rome in 1711: ‘around the walls were painted heads of famous Italian and English artists – Palladio, Raphael and Bonaroti [sic], on the one side, and Inigo Jones, [Isaac] Fuller and Pearce on the other.’

The bust was restored and cleaned by Taylor Pearce Restoration Services Ltd in 2017 which was paid for by a generous donation from Past Master Peter Hammerson (Master 2009).