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Charles Roberson & Co

Watercolor box.

London : Manufactured by Charles Roberson & Co., 99, Long Acre, not before 1853.
Physical Description:
1 watercolor box : wood ; 9.5 x 23.0 x 4 cm
Rare Books and Manuscripts
Watercolor Box 2 (Cabinet I)
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Fund
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Copyright Status:
Copyright Not Evaluated
Three-Dimensional Artifacts
Charles Roberson & Co., and related firms, were major British artists' suppliers of the 19th and early 20th centuries. The firm operated as Charles Robertson & Co. at 99 Long Acre from 1853 until 1907, at which time it became C. Roberson & Co Ltd. See: National Portrait Gallery, British artists' suppliers, 1650-1950.
The Department of Science and Art was established by the British government in 1853 to promote education in art, science, technology and design. The present watercolor box would have been given by the Department as a reward for student achievement.
Restricted fragile material. Use requires permission of the Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts.
Wood watercolor box, manufactured by Charles Roberson & Son, London, mid-19th century. The box is intact, with original brass hinges, latch, and key. The top lid of the box is finely stamped: "Reward. Department of Science and Art." The underside of the lid bears a printed sheet describing the box: "Colour box awarded by the Department of Science and Art. Suggestions for use of colours ..." The printed sheet includes the initials VR (for Queen Victoria), beneath a crown. The box includes a single compartment. A removable wooden tray for pigments and brushes (etc.) is positioned above an open area for storing additional materials, including a ceramic mixing tray.
The pigment tray includes slots for 12 watercolor cakes, in two rows; printed bands beneath each row bear the names pigments. The 12 cakes present are unused and bear the full name of each, as follows: Gamboge, Sap Green, Crimson Lake, Prussian Blue, Yellow Ochre, Vandyke Brown, Raw Siena, Burnt Siena, Vermilion, Indigo, Burnt Umber, and Light Red.
The top tray also includes a cylindrical black ink stick with Asian characters, and a pen nib (The Waverley Pen, Macniven & Cameron, Edinburgh).
The lower portion of the compartment includes a ceramic mixing tray with three wells, manufactured by Roberson & Co.
Instructional text on the printed label provides suggestions for positioning of the paper, use of water, mixing of colors, application of pigment, combinations of pigments in the box, and their possible uses in compositions.
A printed form on the bottom of the box, partially torn (with loss of text), indicates that it was awarded to Andrew Reek- (incomplete), who "excelled in the 2nd Grade Art Exami[nation] ..."
Subject Terms:
Artists' materials -- Great Britain -- 19th century.
Charles Roberson & Co.
Great Britain. Department of Science and Art.
Watercolor painting -- 19th century -- Great Britain.
Watercolor (paint)
Paint boxes.
Nibs (pen points)

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