A really interesting 19th century large mahogany Artist's Box retaining many of its original contents and the old paper trade label.


Inside the lid is a trade label from the Society of Encouragement of Art Manufacture and Commerce, which is now known as the Royal Society of Arts. It acknowledges G. Blackman's contribution and invention of superfine oils in durable cakes which didn't change in appearance when varnish, sold with the paints, was applied. The interior provides further detail, including G. Blackman's residence on Oxford Street, near Soho Square, in London.


This box has divided compartments for the twenty-four watercolour blocks. Above each block is a label which names the colours. On the back of most the paints are the words 'Blackman's Superfine Watercolours Son in Law I G W Reeves'.


Using ribbon tabs to lift up the tray reveals various tubes of watercolours from Windsor and Newton  series 1 and some paper which is stored underneath. On a different lidded compartment sit four mixing palettes. Below is a folded piece of paper with the handwritten words, 'Prussian Blue 2 July 1869'. The paper contains a blue powder. There are various knife palettes, brushes, a brush rest, of differing ages etc. Another section holds a cut glass water bowl and two mahogany lidded compartments, one contains chalks and the other has unopened watercolour blocks from Windsor & Newton.


Two brass locking pins lift out to release the drawer below with its original brass handle. Inside are six ceramic mixing palettes in circular slots and a further eight small circular palettes with paint on them.





History of George Blackman from the National Portrait Gallery (c.1764-c.1819 or later) was born in or about 1764. He gave his age as 23 in his marriage allegation in 1787, made before marrying Sarah Warner; she was the sister of Peter Warner, later a partner in Smith Warner & Co Peter Clifford. George Blackman claimed to have been an assistant to Reeves for 14 years before setting up independently in 1790. He was primarily a watercolour supplier. He claimed also to be son-in-law of William Reeves and tutor to James Newman. He advertised in 1790 that 'he had opened a shop, No. 31 Frith Street, Soho, for the sale of superfine watercolours that are equal if not superior to those of Mr Reeves’, offering every other article for drawing), later advertising from the same address as ‘Superfine Cake Color Manufacturer to their Majesties’ Academies, also Sole Inventor of the Original Royal Liquid Blue’ (Morning Herald 10 May 1792). Blackman's contemporary trade card depicts a Bluecoat boy holding a scroll on which is written, 'G. Blackman/ SUPERFINE/ COLOUR MAN/ No 31/ Frith Street/ SOHO/ From Reeves.' (British Museum, Banks coll. 89.3, with added date 1790), while in a particularly elegant card, dating to about 1800 or 1801, he advertised as ‘G. BLACKMAN/ No 362 Oxford Street/ SUPERFINE OIL & WATER CAKE/ COLOUR Preparer to the ROYAL/ FAMILY her SERENE HIGHNESS the/ PRINCESS of ORANGE, Son in Law &/ 14 Years Assistant to Mr. REEVES and/ Tutor to Mr NEWMAN, Gerrerd St/ SOHO.’In 1793, Blackman advertised his newly invented oil colours (Morning Chronicle 6 July 1793). 


For more information on George Blackman use the link below.



Antique Artist's Box - plenty of contents