COLLECTION: Household Accessories

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Watercolor paint box

1797-1810
Origin: London, England
6 3/4" x 8 3/4" x 2 5/8"
Mahogany box with printed paper label
Museum Purchase
Acc. No. 1973-235
Watercolor paint box of mahogany with hinged lid and pull-our lower drawer. On the underside of the hinged lid is a paper label measuring 5 5/8" x 8 1/4". The image is a black ink engraving, hand-colored with watercoor washes, on laid paper. A brown ink inscription at upper edge, center, reads "My wife's(?)/drawing box". The label text reads "Artes Fraemio Decoratae/REEVES INWOOD/ Merchants, Captains of Ships, & Traders, supply'd on the shortest notice./SUPERFINE COLOUR PREPARERS/To the Royal Family & their Academy's, at the Kings Arms, & Blue Coat Boy ,/NO. 299 near the New Church, Strand, London ,/who receiv'd the Honorary Bounty from the Society in the Adelphi, for encouragement of Arts, &c/English Crayons, equal to Italian, Crayon Pencils, Superior to any made, India&/ British Ink, Ivory Palettes & Ivory for Miniature Painting, all sorts of Drawing/ Papers, Black-lead Pencils, Chalks, & every Article in the Drawing line, of the best Quality,/WHOLESALE, RETAIL, & FOR/EXPORTATION ." Within the upper tray of the box are spaces for 12 watercolor cakes, with the following printed labels: "BROWN", "RAW T. SIENA", "LAKE(?), "P BLUE", ?, "LT RED"/"RED LEAD", GUMBOGE", "?TIN?", "INDIGO","B'T SIENA", "YELLOW OKER". In several cases, the original paper labels have been partially covered with later attachments. Watercolor cakes as well as pieces of other media including conte crayon sticks, some whole, some partial, some fragmented, fill each of the spaces, and in most cases do not correspond to the label. Larger spaces include an ink stick with oriental characters and a white glazed ceramic water dish. Within the long space at the front are a double-ended, brass stylus holding a pencil, and a wooden-handled, stubby bristle brush.
Label:George Brookshaw’s New Treatise on Flower Painting is a wonderful example of early 19th-century illustration techniques. It provides complete directions for drawing and coloring botanical illustrations. Art students and teachers used Brookshaw’s book as a guide for producing watercolor paintings.

An advertisement at the end of the first edition of Brookshaw’s Treatise made these claims: “That those ladies who subscribe to this work may meet with as little difficulty as possible, they are hereby informed, that proper boxes of colours are sold under the inspection of the author, and every other article for drawing, at G. Brown’s corner of Blackland’s Lane, King’s Road, Chelsea; where ladies may have their paintings varnished and mounted in the most elegant taste, and designs drawn for them, and every assistance and instruction given that is necessary.”