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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 ; 10 x 26 x 4 cm
Rare Books and Manuscripts
Watercolor Box 1 (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, after 1853. The box is intact, with original brass hinges, latch, and key. The underside of the lid bears a printed sheet describing the box: "Colour box awarded by the Department of Science and Art. Suggestions on the 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; a printed band above each slot bears the name of the pigment. The 12 cakes present are unused and bear the full name of each, as follows: Pale Chrome, Gamboge, Sepia, Yellow Ochre, French Ultramarine, Prussian Blue, Indian Red, Vermillion, Crimson Lake, Burnt Sienna, Brown Madder, and Neutral Tint.
The box includes six wooden-handled brushes of varying sizes; none bears the name of a manufacturer. All show little evidence of use. They are accompanied by a graphite pencil, "F", by Roberson & Co.
The lower portion of the compartment includes the following: a ceramic mixing tray with six wells, manufactured by Roberson & Co.; a rectangular black ink stick with Asian characters, and areas with gold and cobalt pigments; a packet of 11 sheets of gold leaf; a wad of pink cotton fiber.
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.
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.
Watercolor brushes.

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