The following extract comes from London, Vol III, pp 172-174, by David Hughson, LL.D., published 1806:

"The Painter Stainers' Company originated from some artists who formed themselves into a fraternity as early as the reign of Edward III, but were not incorporated. They styled themselves PAINTER STAINERS; the chief works on which they employed themselves were painting or staining of glass, illuminating missals, painting altars and portraits, of which the portrait of Richard II, in Westminster Abbey is a fine specimen. In the year 1575, they were molested in their occupations by plaisterers and unskilful persons attempting, by the slightness and coarseness of their work, to bring the art into disrepute; the Painters therefore determined to preserve their mystery from the intrusion of pretenders, and applied to Queen Elizabeth for protection. That patroness of science incorporated them in the year 1582, by the name of The Master, Wardens and Commonalty of the Freemen of the Art and Mystery of Painting, called Painter Stainers within the City of London.

The corporation extended only to such artists who practised within the city. "As Art is unconfined, numbers arose in different parts, and settled in Westminster, the seat of the church". They for a long time remained totally unconnected even with each other. Since that time there have been greater intimacy between the artists and the company; the late Sir Joshua Reynolds was a member of the company. .....

There are four sorts of painting, which are properly called trades,

HOUSE PAINTING, which is mostly plain work within and without; though lately the modes of design and embellishment have successfully been introduced; and the houses of the inhabitants of London and other parts of Great Britain may vie with the antient fabrics of Herculaneum.

SHIP PAINTING, which though in many instances plain, has also exhibited very creditable examples of superior workmanship.

SIGN PAINTING, which till lately was rough work, but if such work could furnish ideas for a Hogarth, there is credit attached to it; and this branch of painting displays many good traits of genius in the various streets of the metropolis. *

COACH PAINTING. There have been some most beautiful efforts of the pencil exhibited in this branch of painting. The work of Cipriani on his Majesty's state coach, and that of Dance, on that of the lord mayor, are certainly efforts of fine imagination, displayed with classic purity; and let it not be a small honour derived to this portion of art and trade that it has produced a Smirke.

To paint, however, is to imitate Nature; and, to becomea regular painter, it is indispensably necessary that an artist should serve an apprenticeship to Philosophy.

* It used to be one of the principal amusements of Hogarth to visit the sign-painters shops in Harp Alley, Fleet Market, for the purpose of introducing some of those original subjects into his pictures.

Byng's Coach Panel & the Porto Bello Pub Sign
The Decorator
Painter-Stainer's Hall
Watermen's Hall
monamy website index


© Charles Harrison-Wallace 2004
all rights reserved