Some few years ago, when the demand for pictures was at its height and painters were earning large incomes, many men launched out into more or less reckless outlays on bricks and mortar, with the idea of providing themselves with a setting worthy of the great positions to which they had attained in the art world. . . . House-building became a fashion that scarcely any rising artist with a balance at the bank could resist. He felt that he must surround himself with visible evidences of the appreciation in which he was held or there would be a danger that the public, always too ready to judge by externals, would pass him by as a failure, and prefer to him some of his more demonstrative competitors.

A. L. Baldry, Hubert Von Herkomer (London, 1904), p. 102.

<em>A Private View at the Royal Academy</em>

W. P. Frith, A Private View at the Royal Academy, 1883

A happy thought

The conception of Artists at Home, a serial publication of twenty-five photogravures accompanied by brief biographical sketches, was “essentially ‘a happy thought,’” according to its British publisher.[1] Indeed, the project appears to owe its origin not to F. G. Stephens (1828–1907), the art critic who served as the author and editor of Artists at Home, or to Joseph Parkin Mayall (1839–1922), the photographer whose images composed the series, but to Sampson Low, Marston, Searle, & Rivington, the company that oversaw the printing and distribution of the six installments between March and April 1884.


G. F. Watts, from Artists at Home

The particular novelty of Artists at Home, as the prospectus announced, lay in the detailed photographs of artistic interiors, replete with images of the “pictures, sculptures, and other objects of art which characterise those places.”[2] The viewer, then, would be treated not only to portraits of distinguished artists and glimpses into their private domains, but also to tiny replicas of actual works of art photographed with such precision that in many cases they could even be identified. The studio portrait of G. F. Watts, in which the artist is pictured in his private art gallery, would be lauded by the Publisher’s Circular for that very reproductive feat: “The photographer has had more than his usual success in bringing out the pictures which surround their famous author on the walls.”[3] To modern audiences this may not seem especially remarkable, but at the time, when the materials and techniques of photography were still evolving, the achievement was extraordinary. As the publisher explained in a note accompanying the plates, “the recent improvement in photography by the introduction of the Rapid Dry Plate has alone rendered the thing possible.”[4]

Yet the photographs themselves could not account for the success of Artists at Home. The miracle was in their expert reproduction by the “entirely new and unquestionably permanent process of photoengraving,” which rendered each image as enduring as an etching.[5] Photoengraving on copper plates not only solved the problem of fading prints but translated ephemeral photographic images into veritable works of art, in some respects improving on the originals: the prints possessed a distinctive tonality—“something between that of the photograph and the platinotype”—and brought out “the middle tints so often found wanting in the photograph from which they are taken, and which have hitherto been a characteristic only of high-class steel-engravings.”[6] As a result, the plates were “marvels of skill and workmanship,” the Globe declared in a phrase so pleasing that the publisher extracted and quoted it in subsequent advertisements.[7]

Studio of Frederic Leighton

Studio of Frederic Leighton, from Maurice B. Adams, Artists' Homes, 1883

Popular painters 

The “happy thought” that had inspired Artists at Home undoubtedly arose in response to the Victorian public’s growing interest in the leading artists of the day, whose impressive homes and studios symbolized their success. Those members of the Art Establishment—which took material form in the Royal Academy, to which nearly all of them belonged—were the celebrities of the Aesthetic movement, representing the artistic tastes and talents that incited a rash of reforms in architecture and interior decoration during the 1870s and 1880s. A broad swath of the Victorian population took an interest in the pictures annually displayed at the Academy and other exhibition venues that supplied works of art to meet the public demand. Publishers scrambled to provide prints of each year’s most popular paintings, and the periodical press churned out exhibition reviews and illustrated feature articles on prominent artists, their lives and works.

Beginning in the late 1860s, the most prosperous of those London artists built themselves houses in the suburbs, where the air was cleaner and the daylight hours (comparatively free of fog) were longer. These new homes, or new conversions of older ones, all centered on the studio, where as Maurice B. Adams remarked in 1883, “art as well as utility should find a place, and where practical work might most conveniently be performed.”[8] Yet the ordinary painting rooms that had satisfied the previous generation would not do. Working with architects who understood their particular requirements, late-Victorian artists created showplaces for their productions, and studio-houses evolved into exclusive galleries for the display, and sale, of works of art. Naturally, those houses became another source of public interest: everyone wanted a glimpse of the private aesthetic realm where creative construction took place. As Adams explained, the houses of painters and sculptors were meant to embody “in a practical form the art-teachings and influences of those who had charmed by their writings”: the Victorian public expected their artists “to show them how best to profit by the lessons learned from the first workers in our modern Art-Revival.”[9]

The publisher, Sampson Low & Co., seized the opportunity to combine these contemporaneous sources of fascination—the men themselves, their beautifully decorated studio homes, and the works of art produced there. The result was Artists at Home: “These likenesses have that interest which attaches to the most exact and characteristic representations of eminent men, each in the habit of his life, and in every sense at home.”[10] By the time the fascicles were bound in book form toward the end of 1884, the publisher had bestowed a loftier aim on the series: “To introduce the homes of those artists whose names have acquired a deserved celebrity, thereby making ‘Artists at Home’ an historical record of the famous artists of our time.”[11] Celebrity, by definition ephemeral, was thereby made immortal, just as the fragile photographs composing that “historical record” were made permanent through the process of photogravure.

<em>John Jabez Edwin Mayall (Self-Portrait), </em>

John Jabez Edwin Mayall, Self Portrait, c. 1844

Queen Victoria with her family

Queen Victoria with her family, 1860s, photograph by J. J. E. Mayall

Joseph Parkin Mayall

Joseph Parkin Mayall, c. 1875, photograph by C. Dickson

The Mayall name 

To execute the project, Sampson Low selected Joseph Parkin Mayall (1839–1922), then a little-known photographer who, paradoxically, possessed a famous name. It belonged to his father, John Jabez Edwin Mayall (1813–1901), one of the first professional portrait photographers in Britain and still an active participant in the profession in the mid-1880s, even making portraits of some of the artists represented in Artists at Home. He had long relied on the assistance of his sons, who were brought up in the business of photographing “illustrious personages.” J. J. E. Mayall held the distinction of having taken the first carte-de-visite of Queen Victoria, and many years later his son Joe recalled “a scene on the terrace at Osborne House, Isle of Wight”:

About the year 1855 my father received her Majesty’s commands to attend there for the purpose of taking some photographs, and I accompanied him. In succession were photographed the Princess Royal, the Princess Helena, the Prince of Wales, the Prince Alfred, finally her Majesty and the Prince Consort. To my boyish mind it was naturally a subject of curiosity to approach these Royal personages in all the unstudied intimacy of their daily life and surroundings.[12]

The Mayall name, then, was indelibly associated with the royal family, which cast an aura of celebrity over Joe, though he was destined to live in the shadow of his more famous father.

In 1870, J. P. Mayall took his young family to Australia, presumably to make a name for himself, although his East Melbourne studio was called “Mayall & Sons” and seems to have been a franchise of the London and Brighton company. Six years later, a devastating accident resulted in the death of the Mayalls’ ten-year-old daughter Eliza. [13] Within days of that tragedy the photographer had sold “the whole of his well-selected and superior photographic plant,” including the largest solar camera in Australia and portraits in oil of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, and sailed for England.[14] Joe and Ann Mayall settled in Brighton, where the elder Mayall had set up shop in 1863; they lived on West Hill Road with their two remaining daughters, Marian and Amy, and a single servant. Although he had named his profession in the 1861 census as “artist,” Joe Mayall now described himself as a “clerk accountant.”[15]

That apparent reduction in circumstances may account for Mayall’s move to London, where by October 1882 he had opened a studio at 548 Oxford Street, just opposite the Marble Arch. “It is quite unique,” The Times reported, “the construction combining all the latest improvements. The situation is unequalled in London for pure, unobstructed light.”[16] Although situated in the same vicinity, Mayall’s establishment was clearly distinct from the other family businesses in Regent Street and New Bond Street, which both bore the Mayall name.[17] With his own Park Lane Studio, Joe Parkin Mayall declared his independence from the Mayalls, even as he glamorized his new address by association with a distinguished thoroughfare.


Frank Dicksee, from Artists at Home 1884

S. COUSINS, R.A.<br />

Samuel Cousins, from Artists at Home, 1884


Thomas Webster, from Artists at Home, 1884

Artists at home

We know that J. P. Mayall had secured the commission for Artists at Home by August 11, 1883, when he executed an agreement with his assistant, Frank Dudman (1877-1953), to photograph dozens of famous artists in their homes and studios.[18] In order to work on site, Mayall was obliged to transport the photographic apparatus from his studio in central London to scores of unfamiliar houses, often in fairly remote suburban neighborhoods, and to assess the requirements of each interior setting. The challenge of taking sharply focused pictures indoors did not phase Mayall, however, as long as he was properly equipped. Writing about W. E. Gladstone’s sitting, the photographer later recalled,

I had been somewhat alarmed at the persistent way in which Mr. Gladstone’s sitting-room had been pronounced too dark to be photographed. “Ah!” said I to myself, before seeing the sitting-room, “des faux bruits.” I have hardly seen a room which does not admit of being photographed with Wratten’s dry plates. “Soyez tranquille, mon ami,” I said to myself; “ne t’embarrasse point.”

The artists’ portraits would be easier to secure than Gladstone’s, since their studios were specially designed to admit steady natural light from a northern exposure, rather like Mayall’s own Park Lane Studio, with its “pure, unobstructed light.” Indeed, Mayall was the ideal photographer for this assignment because he detested the use of electric light in photographic portraiture: “The normal expression of the face can only be obtained in a subdued light. Photographic studios have generally too much glare. This I consider a fatal objection to the use of electric light, which is very apt to call up a painful, forced expression seen at no other time.”[19]

J. P. Mayall’s strong opinion on this matter may have been one cause of his separation from the family business: since 1881, the Mayall studios had proudly taken photographic portraits by electric light. When he later moved the Park Lane Studio to Kilburn, in northwest London, Mayall engineered an “improved method of lighting” that was said to add “greatly to the quality of the photo.”[20] In the artists’ own houses, however, Mayall had to make do with conditions as they were. On the whole, the studios appear to have provided sufficient natural illumination for Mayall’s purposes, as had Gladstone’s sitting room; but especially dim interiors might explain the small number of pictures in Artists at Home that were taken somewhere other than the studio—Watts in his picture gallery, Samuel Cousins in his parlor, and Thomas Webster, uniquely, out of doors. The Magazine of Art, in an unflattering and ill-informed review of Artists at Home, attributed the portraits’ defects to the use of electricity. “Over all,” the writer complained, “is that terrible and tremendous presence, the photographer’s light, ‘the light that never was on sea or land.’”[21]

Hawarden Castle--The Library Front

Hawarden Castle, Wales, after a photograph by J. P. Mayall, 1884

<em>Catherine Gladstone (née Glynne)</em>

Catherine Gladstone (née Glynne), ca. 1860, by J. J. E. Mayall

Mrs. Gladstone in the Library

Mrs. Gladstone in the library at Hawarden Castle, 1884, by J. P. Mayall

A rare bird

Mayall’s illustrious surname may have helped him gain entrée to the private houses of some forty-eight famous artists and one distinguished prime minister.[22] The early advertisements for Artists at Home express pride in the photographer, who had “been honoured with permission to photograph a number of the leading Painters, Sculptors, Architects, and Engravers of the day in their studios, or in their homes.”[23] The implication is that the artists were not only willing to contribute their time and cooperation, but also to open their private residences to public scrutiny—or, as one sarcastic critic put it, “admit the public into the real sanctuaries of the life artistic.”[24] Even after the 1860s’ craze for cartes-de-visite (“cartomania”) had subsided, well-known artists, in common with all Victorian celebrities, were hounded for press interviews and portrait photographs. This may explain why Mayall was at pains, in his single published written work, to portray himself as an educated, well-mannered gentleman, in contrast to the rapacious, run-of-the-mill professional photographers who had become so unpopular. “In my view,” Mayall wrote in 1888 in The Grand Old Man, a publication dedicated to Gladstone, “a good photographer is ‘Rara avis in terris, nigroque simillima cygno’”(“A rare bird in the lands, and very like a black swan,” a quotation from Juvenal presumably intended to demonstrate his own erudition):

And the qualifications are very high. Photography, I am sorry to say, like school-mastering, though worthy of the highest abilities, is frequently followed by men of the lowest, and, to use a current phrase, has become “a refuge for the destitute.” A good photographer requires to be a fair chemist, a man of good taste and agreeable manners, and very much indeed of an artist. As the Captain in Dickens’s novel very justly observes, “When found, make a note of.”

Yet Mayall himself remained uncertain of his standing in society. Having arrived at Hawarden Castle to photograph the prime minister, he insisted on using the servants’ entrance and waiting below stairs to be called by Mrs. Gladstone (née Catherine Glynne) to the drawing room, even though we are given to understand that he was there upon her express, written invitation. Her warm welcome might owe something to her acquaintance with Mayall’s father, who had made her own photographic portrait—and several of her husband--in the early 1860s.

“I may say,” Mayall wrote, “for the reader’s information, on my first interview with Mrs. Gladstone I perceived that I had a valuable ally to aid me in getting the photographs I required,” for she proved to be “always accessible, kind, and courteous.” Mayall was “honoured with a separate sitting by Mrs. Gladstone,” whom he captures seated at her work table at one end of Gladstone’s study in a photograph intended as a pendant to the portrait of her husband. Mayall was well aware that not even the most polished professional could entirely eliminate the tedium of a portrait sitting. He would not have been surprised when his hostess excused herself from their conversation, as “she wished to prepare Mr. Gladstone for the ordeal of being photographed, shall I say, for the thousand and first time.”[25]


Sir John Gilbert, from Artists at Home, 1884

RT. HON. W. E. GLADSTONE, M.P. <br />

W. E. Gladstone, from Artists at Home, 1884

Gladstone among the artists

Because Gladstone’s portrait was to be featured in Artists at Home, Mayall brought enlargements of several of studio portraits to Hawarden Castle, including those of Gladstone’s venerable contemporaries Thomas Webster and Sir John Gilbert, to show the sitter what he had in mind.[26] The prime minister’s inclusion in the series was noteworthy enough to be announced in the papers even before Artists at Home had been officially introduced. “Mr. Gladstone has recently given Mr. J. P. Mayall a sitting at Hawarden Castle,” the Morning Post informed its readers, “for a photograph which will be published by Sampson Low, Marston and Co. in a new work, ‘Artists’ Homes.’”[27] (In fact, Artists’ Homes was the title of a book published only the previous month by Maurice B. Adams, editor of The Building News.) The products of that January visit to Wales may not have been entirely satisfactory, for Mayall returned in June, as The Daily News reported, when Gladstone gave him another sitting, this time for “a Rembrandt photograph.”[28] This type of portrait-- made in the style of an old master painting, with a strong light from the side creating dramatic shadows on the face—required from the photographer “refined taste and skill,” and it eventually became Mayall’s specialty.[29] At Hawarden Castle, Mayall positioned the sitter “in a recess of one of the windows in the drawing-room adjoining the library,” a spot he had selected the evening before, “the light there being suitable for my purpose.” When Gladstone sat down in the appointed spot, the photographer recalled, “here again was a feast for the eye of a painter, let alone a photographer. That face, that effect of light and shade, will never be effaced from my memory. It would have required Rembrandt himself to do justice to the occasion.”[30] Regrettably, that portrait has disappeared, but Mayall himself must have been pleased with it, for he took the extraordinary measure of registering it immediately for copyright, with the cryptic description, “Photograph of Rt Hon W. E. Gladstone MP. Profile. Face.”[31]

On the whole, Gladstone’s honorary position at the Royal Academy seems to have been enough to justify the presence of a politician in the company of painters, sculptors, and engravers. As the Graphic remarked,

The Premier as an artist would be a novelty for which few would be prepared. Luckily, however, the notice appended to his portrait explains that besides being a considerable collector of bric-à-brac, Mr. Gladstone has for some nine years been Professor of Ancient History in the Royal Academy, and that it is as such that his portrait is here introduced. The office is one without duties and without salary, a condition to which Oliver Goldsmith, upon whom the honour was first conferred, humorously referred when he wrote to acquaint his brother of his new dignity.[32]

A later notice in a colonial newspaper presented the opposing point of view:

The portraits, surrounded as they are with the handiwork of the several gentlemen named, are excellent representations of the originals; but why Mr. Gladstone should be put down as “an artist at home” is not clearly defined, unless he may be claimed from the fact of his being “an honorary member and professor of ancient history in the Royal Academy.” Otherwise although the portrait will no doubt be very acceptable to a great many, we cannot conceive its right of insertion in such a production as “Artists at Home.”[33]

Nevertheless, the anomalous portrait of an uncompromising Gladstone seated in his castle library was considered the crowning image of the series. The last photograph taken for the project, it appeared in the final installment of Artists at Home, evidently as a bonus--the fifth photogravure in the fascicle, when the others had comprised only four. And when at last the book was published, it was Gladstone’s portrait featured in the frontispiece, the place of honor, and not Frederic Leighton’s, as one might reasonably expect, since the volume had been dedicated to him.

Frontispiece, <em>Artists at Home</em>

Frontispiece and title page, Artists at Home, 1884


Richard Redgrave, from Artists at Home, 1884


Marcus Stone, from Artists at Home, 1884

The chosen few 

The twenty-five portraits published in Artists at Home span the nineteenth century, with sitters ranging in age from Thomas Webster, born in 1800, to Frank Dicksee, born in 1853. They represent two generations of artists—the venerable elders, such as Richard Redgrave, who had come of age by the year of the Great Exhibition, 1851, some of whose studios (or painting rooms) were not particularly distinguished in themselves; and the younger, ambitious, up-and-coming Associates and more recently elected members of the Royal Academy born after 1830, such as Marcus Stone, whose studios had become almost as celebrated as their works. The majority were English, though several had been born abroad, and five of the twenty-five subjects were Scots.

In each of the six installments, the first photogravure in the set portrayed a prominent and highly respected Academician: first Leighton, then John Everett Millais, followed by Lawrence Alma-Tadema, Watts, Gilbert, and E. J. Poynter. Most of the fascicles feature at least one of the distinguished senior artists, often described in the text as a “doyen” of his craft (Watts, Gilbert, and four who had retired from the Royal Academy—Webster, William Calder Marshall, Cousins, and Redgrave), and four of the six fascicles feature sculptors (Marshall, Lawson, W. Hamo Thornycroft, and J. Edgar Boehm). Two engravers—Cousins and Thomas Oldham Barlowwere included in the set, and two of the artists pictured (Redgrave and Poynter) were probably better known at that time for their work in arts administration.

Most of the painters specialized in historical genre, including the three members of the St. John’s Wood Clique--William Fredrick Yeames, Philip Hermogenes Calderon, and George Adolphus Storey; one specialized in landscape (John MacWhirter) and one in animals (Briton Riviere). Several were almost as famous for their illustrations as for their paintings—notably Gilbert, but also Stone and Robert Macbeth—or for their work in watercolor, notably Webster, Dicksee, and John Pettie; one—Val C. Prinsep—was also known as the author of two plays, two novels, and a memoir of his life in imperial India. The majority lived in London—mostly in the newly fashionable neighborhoods of Kensington (with a decided cluster in Holland Park), Hampstead, and St. John’s Wood. Thomas Webster, however, lived in Cranbrook, in Kent, and W. E. Gladstone, of course, lived even farther afield, at Hawarden in North Wales, a six-hour journey by train from Euston Station.[34]

Cheyne Walk, Chelsea

Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, ca. 1870s, photograph by James Hedderly

Notable absences 

The list of artists left out of Artists at Home may be as instructive as that of the ones it includes. Not a single woman is featured, despite the unprecedented number of women who had in fact left the home to become professional artists. The list of illustrious names rather pointedly excludes artists who worked in a more aestheticist vein and consequently enjoyed less popularity than the Academicians who were pictured, even though their works tend to be better known—James McNeill Whistler, for instance, Albert Moore, and Edward Burne-Jones. And while three of the four areas of London associated with artistic residents (Hampstead, St. John’s Wood, and Kensington) are well represented in the series the slightly more bohemian neighborhood of Chelsea, located on the banks of the Thames and the edge of respectability makes no appearance at all.


Frederic Leighton, from Artists at Home, 1884

The silent partner 

Copyright records confirm that the “author” of most photographs in Artists at Home was not J. P. Mayall, but his studio assistant Frank Dudman. Mayall, however, retained ownership of all the images and their associated rights, and claimed for himself several of the most eminent figures. Mayall is responsible for the studio portraits of Frederick Leighton (“a sufferer, but resigned,” as one critic described his image in the publication),[35] Alma-Tadema (the portrait misses “the distinguishing characteristics” of the man, according to the Art Journal),[36] G. F. Watts, and the prime minister. Even today, those are among the most familiar images in the series.[37] There can be little doubt, however, that Mayall and Dudman worked together to ensure a consistent approach. Mayall may even have orchestrated the photographs while Dudman operated the camera, for without the copyright notices, it would not be possible to distinguish between the two photographers’ works.

The artists’ involvement 

Working with artists must have presented a challenge to the photographer, for they would have wanted a say in the presentation of themselves, their studios, and their art works. They almost certainly selected the paintings that would appear in the portraits, many of them finished and framed, even if resting on an easel before the artist, brush in hand, as though still in progress: among other purposes, these studio portraits advertised the artists’ latest works. The Art Journal  assumed that the sitters devised their own poses and positions in the studio, while faulting the photographer for awkward staging: “These plates do not show us the artists really at home; or, at least, they show them only as they are at home to the photographer. All the handsome furniture has been piled into that part of the room which is represented in the plate, while the owner of the studio has posed himself gracefully at the right point.” [38] The Illustrated London News, on the other hand, implies that the sitters themselves are to blame for playing a passive part: “Considering that this is a purely artistic work it is surprising that the artists represented have not exercised a more beneficial control over the arrangement and production of the pictures.”[39]

The Marquis of Salisbury, K.G.

The Marquis of Salisbury, 1884, from a photograph by J. P. Mayall

Statesmen at home

Once the photographs were taken, Mayall’s work was done; the delicate task of reproducing them by photo-engraving fell to the publisher. The first set of photogravures was printed in Paris, but something went awry with one of the plates, and although the March 1st publication date had been confidently announced for weeks, that initial installment was embarrassingly delayed.[40] It was probably at this point that Sampson Low turned to the Chiswick Press, renowned for its quality printing, to complete the project.

Mayall, meanwhile, was capitalizing on the publicity for Artists at Home and forging a reputation as a specialist in portraits staged in the sitters’ own houses. As he ventured outside London, his sitters became aristocratic and their houses considerably more impressive. Toward the end of March, the papers reported that Mayall had been to Hatfield House, a magnificent Jacobean mansion that had been home to the Cecil family since 1611, to make portraits of the Marquess and Marchioness of Salisbury, and to photograph the Duke of Argyll, the Bishop of St. Albans, and “several of the young people at Hatfield House in an out-door group.”[41] It was not until August, however, when Mayall traveled to Addington Park to photograph the Archbishop of Canterbury in the palace library, that his latest project was announced—a second series, “similar in scope to ‘Artists at Home,’” to be titled Statesmen at Home.[42] Just days after the sitting at Hatfield House, Lord Carnarvon (George Edward Stanhope Molyneux Herbert, 5th Earl of Carnarvon, the amateur Egyptologist who would later finance the excavation of Tutankhamun’s tomb) “honoured Mr. J. P. Mayall (Park-lane Studio) with sittings for photographs in the library at Highclere Castle.”[43] According to the Morning News, “the success of ‘Artists at Home,’ now being published by Messrs. Sampson Low . . . , has encouraged Mr. J. P. Mayall (Park Lane Studio) to extend the series.”[44] But for reasons that remain obscure, Statesmen at Home never came to fruition.

At least one of the photographs intended for that failed publication—evidently, the first one taken—was repurposed in 1885. A portrait by J. P. Mayall of Lord Salisbury in the library at Hatfield House, holding a book and gazing off to the left, was reproduced as a photogravure and used as the frontispiece of The Life and Speeches of the Marquis of Salisbury, K.G. by F. S. Pulling, published by Sampson Low, Marston, Searle & Rivington in 1885.[45] Within months of the book’s publication, Gladstone resigned and Lord Salisbury took his place as prime minister.[46] This portrait is a detail of a larger view of the library in the manner of the Artists at Home photographs, with Salisbury seated off to one side, an enormous hearth dominating the other. That full view was published years later, on July 26, 1902, just after the marquess resigned from his government post and retreated to Hatfield House, with the title “The Ex-Premier at Home.”[47]

Thomas Woolner

Thomas Woolner, 1883, after a photograph by Frank Dudman for J. P. Mayall

Thomas Woolner

Thomas Woolner, 1883, photograph by Frank Dudman for J. P. Mayall

The forgotten sitters 

All the photographs from which photogravures were to be made—“upwards of fifty,” according to The Athenaeum—had been taken by the time the first notices of Artists at Home appeared in January 1884. The original plan was to publish them over the course of twelve months.[48] The majority had been copyrighted in 1883 by Frank Dudman, who was more diligent in this duty than his supervisor; Mayall sometimes waited decades before submitting the necessary paperwork. Nevertheless, only half the artist portraits made it into print. It is not possible to know why some were chosen and others were not. We might assume that Mayall favored his own productions, but of the photographs registered for copyright but never published in Artists at Home, only one, of the artist George Richmond, had been taken by Mayall himself.[49] The scheme announced in the March prospectus had also included architects, but neither G. F. Bodley nor Robert W. Edis made it into the publication. Twelve of the original twenty-four sitters were born before 1830, twelve after. Several of the artists—notably George Boughton, Frank Holl, and Colin Hunter—lived in highly publicized, custom-built houses that were frequently featured in press accounts of artistic life in London, making their absence here conspicuous.[50]

As far as we know, only one of the unpublished images intended for Artists at Home appeared independently: the studio portrait of the sculptor Thomas Woolner (1825–1892), one of the founding members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. It was published soon after the artist’s death in 1892, when The Morning Post noted that “interesting souvenirs are combined in a photograph of the late Mr. Thomas Woolner, recently issued by Mr. J. P. Mayall. . . . The sculptor is represented in his studio at work on a marble bust of the late Lord Tennyson.”[51] This describes the portrait made and registered by Dudman on Mayall’s behalf on September 24, 1883.[52] Although the full studio portrait has not come to light, an albumen cabinet card in the National Portrait Gallery appears to be a detail of that image. Dudman had in fact produced two additional views of Woolner’s studio, one in which the sculptor leans on a pedestal holding a gavel and chisel, the other in which he leans against a chest of drawers, smoking.[53] A bromide print of the latter image also survives at the National Portrait Gallery.

<em>Joseph Edgar Boehm (1834–90)</em>

Joseph Edgar Boehm, 1883, by J. P. Mayall. Royal Collection Trust / (c) Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017


J. E. Boehm, from Artists at Home, 1884

Sir Joseph Edgar Boehm with Princess Louise

Sir Joseph Edgar Boehm with Princess Louise, ca. 1885

Portraits for the Queen 

One of Mayall’s photographs taken for Artists at Home did enjoy a second life, though only after the death of its subject. At the very end of 1890, while working in his South Kensington studio, J. Edgar Boehm (created a baronet in 1889) collapsed and died, reportedly in the presence of his student, the Princess Louise. Boehm, appointed Her Majesty’s Sculptor in Ordinary in 1881, had long been a favorite of the queen, whose portrait he had produced in various forms, including a colossal marble statue for Windsor Castle and a gold coin celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of her reign.  Presumably for that reason, Mayall presented Queen Victoria with “two enlarged photographs of the late Sir Edgar Boehm in his studio.”[54] One was the familiar portrait from Artists at Home, showing Boehm with the bust of Aldous Huxley, which Mayall printed from the original negative using the “silver process.” The “companion picture,” according to The Times, “represents the artist at work on a bust of the Queen. The representation loses nothing of the firmness of outline which is sometimes sacrificed in enlarging from a negative, and the shades of tint appear to be as delicately handled as in the original photogravure.”[55] That photograph, in which Boehm holds the tools of his craft as he leans with studied nonchalance against a pedestal bearing the queen’s bust, remains a part of the Royal Collection.[56]

The photographic prints registered for copyright presumably survive among the public records of the National Archives at Kew, but otherwise—with the important exceptions of Woolner’s and Boehm’s—the photographic plates and prints produced for Artists at Home have all but disappeared. Mayall must have printed new copies in 1885, when he exhibited at least some of the “English photographs of artists at home” at the International Inventions Exhibition, a world’s fair held in South Kensington, at with three-quarters of a million people attended over six months.[57] And perhaps he kept a set for himself. In October 2000, a collection of more than forty albumen prints ascribed to J. P. Mayall and neatly contained in a little red box turned up at a London auction. The image reproduced in the sale catalogue is the magisterial portrait of Leighton, a little faded around the edges—the inevitable fate of a photographic print, unlike a photogravure. The box of photographs, each about 6½ x 8½ inches, sold for nearly £1,000. The buyer’s identity and the current location of the photographs is unknown. [58]

Frederick George Stephens

Frederick George Stephens, ca. 1890, photograph by Frederick Hollyer

The letterpress

By convention, library catalogues name F. G. Stephens, the author and editor of Artists at Home, as responsible for the publication, although J. P. Mayall should perhaps be credited first, for the publication is primarily a collection of images. It is telling that the person who collected the set now preserved at Emory’s Rose Library did not consider the letterpress important enough to keep. Perhaps the biographies were an afterthought: nothing was said about text in the initial notices of the publication, and even when the marketing campaign began in earnest it merited only a brief mention, suggesting that in this particular book, the words would be subordinate to the pictures: “Every part will contain Four Engravings from the Photographs, all Facsimiles of the originals, and include a short Biography of each artist, with a description of his studio.”[59] As the months went by and the ads grew shorter, the author’s contribution sometimes dropped out of the picture altogether.[60] One writer for The Derby Mercury did commend the biographical aspect of the serial and printed a lengthy excerpt from Val Prinsep's biography, observing that “the biographies are from the highly competent pen of Mr. F. G. Stephens, who supplies a variety of interesting particulars, especially in regard to the works and studios of the artists treated.”[61] In June 1884, a review in The Publisher's Circular roundly commended Stephens for the biographical sketches in the fourth fascicle: “In each case the letterpress gives an interesting biographical sketch, and a more than usually full notice of the artist’s principal productions, the fullness of detail on the latter hand adding very materially to the interest with which the members of the artistic fraternity and the genuine amateur will look through the pages.” That notice was hardly unbiased, however, as it appeared in a periodical founded and sustained by the Sampson Low, the publisher of Artists at Home.[62] On the whole, Stephens’s text did not attract much critical attention.

<em>F. G. Stephens</em>

F. G. Stephens, by William Holman Hunt, 1847

<em>Mother and Child</em>

F. G. Stephens, Mother and Child, ca. 1854

"The Proposal (The Marquis and Griselda)"

F. G. Stephens, The Proposal (The Marquis and Griselda), ca. 1850

Drawing of Prinsep, Pettie and Alma-Tadema's Studios

J. Pettie's studio, from The Century Magazine, August 1882

Author and painter 

The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography identifies F. G.Stephens as an “art critic and art historian,” which is how he is primarily remembered. Yet Stephens regarded himself differently, as the London census records reveal. In 1871, when he was 44, Stephens recorded his occupation as “Artist Painter,” providing no hint of the way he actually made his living—as the art critic, since 1861, for the estimable Athenaeum. By 1881, owing perhaps to the twelve volumes of art history and criticism he had published by that date, Stephens was identifying himself as “Author & Painter,” but in 1891 he restored his earliest occupation to the leading position, naming himself “Artist & Author.”[63]

Admitted to the Royal Academy Schools at age sixteen, Stephens fell in with two of his fellow art students, William Holman Hunt and John Everett Millais, who would long remain his closest friends. Four years later, the three young artists joined a few like-minded colleagues to found the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. In the years of the PRB, Stephens was frequently recruited to model for his friends—he impersonates Millais’s Ferdinand, for example, and Ford Madox Brown’s Christ washing Peter’s feet—as he struggled to produce paintings of his own. By the late 1850s, however, Stephens seems to have decided that his artistic talent was deficient, for he stopped painting and famously destroyed nearly all of his existing works. Only six pictures survive to illustrate his strict commitment to Pre-Raphaelite principles but rather awkward command of the brush. In retrospect, his fellow Pre-Raphaelites construed Stephens’s repudiation of his youthful ambition as inevitable, almost providential: “His tendency being towards literature,” Thomas Woolner said of his old friend Stephens, “he gave up pictures for books, and by his writings did a great deal for the cause.”[64] Nevertheless, despite his steady, prestigious employment by The Athenaeum and an impressive bibliography of his own, Stephens kept his identity as an artist alive, even if he kept it mostly to himself.[65]

Stephens’s professional history may account for his participation in Artists at Home. As an artist himself, he could approach the studios and their contents with an informed appreciation of their advantages and defects; as a longtime London critic he could readily identify the milestones of an artist’s career. But his essays are disappointing, especially in comparison to the many lively, detailed articles about artists’ houses that filled the pages of British and American periodicals in the latter decades of the nineteenth century. At the end of 1884, for example, Helen Zimmern published a “descriptive sketch of Mr. Pettie’s charming dwelling-place at Hampstead . . . with some illustrations of its interior ‘effects,’” one in a series of articles in the Magazine of Art titled “Artists’ Homes,” reportedly “intended to be a companion series to the noble volume of ‘Artists at Home.’”[66] In fact, the Magazine of Art series of articles predated Artists at Home: it had begun with Wilfred Meynell’s illustrated article on Frederic Leighton’s house in 1881, and continued through 1885, at least.[67] This rival publication may have had something to do with the insulting response of the critic for The Magazine of Art to Artists at Home: the reviewer considered the entire publication “devoid of interest,” dismissing Stephens’s text as “not much more than a catalogue” and concluding that Artists at Home, “written with all Mr. Stephens’s wonted emphasis on intimacy and exactness,” was likely to be “quite as popular as it deserves.”[68]

It was from the comfort of his own library in Hammersmith Terrace that Stephens penned the preface to Artists at Home, supporting his opening observation that “in biographical and historical interest no pictures surpass views of the interiors of artists’ studios.” In the brief essay that follows, he marches the reader through the history of art, from the “statue painters in their ateliers . . . depicted at Beni-Hassan” to Meissonier’s contemporary masterpiece “in small,” Les amateurs de peinture (1860; Musée d’Orsay), pointing out notable examples of the genre along the way. Like the succeeding biographical sketches, the preface is not particularly engaging or insightful, but as Macleod asserts, it should not be entirely discounted on account of its “cogent art-historical summation of earlier images of artists in their studios.”[70] This is important, I would argue, because Stephens places the photographer among the great artists of the past: his thesis is that the photographic images reproduced in Artists at Home represent a modern manifestation of the traditional studio portrait. “Having thus, so far as a morning’s work allowed, endeavoured to show what has been done in representing bygone artists in their studios,” Stephens concludes, confessing to his haste in completing the task, “I may be permitted to introduce these pictures of the living to the reader.”[71]


J. E. Millais, from Artists at Home, 1884

Like J. P. Mayall, Stephens began to recycle his contributions to Artists at Home soon after their publication. As the aging celebrities he had profiled began to pass away, he would often reuse parts of their biographical sketches in the obituaries composed for The Athenaeum. The first instance was in 1887, upon the death of Samuel Cousins, when Stephens—writing anonymously, as the voice of The Athenaeum—noted that the facts contained in the “memoir of the famous engraver” lately published in Artists at Home were “unquestionably current” and presumably accurate, since the text had been “sanctioned and revised” by the artist himself.”[72] There was no need to start over when the facts of Cousins’s life were constant, and little of note had taken place in the few years since Artists at Home was published. In his work as a critic, Stephens customarily invited his friends—notably J. E. Millais and Dante Gabriel Rossetti—to approve (and probably improve) the reviews he had written of their works.[73] He appears to have continued the practice with Artists at Home, if only to confirm the facts. In 1896, Stephens revealed in The Athenaeum that he (or rather “the author”) had “enjoyed the advantage” of Millais’s revisions to the "memoir" written for Artists at Home, which justified his borrowing facts to embellish the paean he published after Millais’s death, even quoting from it at some length. In the unsigned obituary of J. Edgar Boehm published in 1891, Stephens even cites his own Artists at Home biography as a source to support his claim that the late sculptor had produced more public statues than any other British artist: “This was true six years ago, when the statement was printed, and it is true to the present time. As the sculptor himself revised the memoir, we cannot do better than borrow the data.” And in 1898, while still maintaining the conventional fiction that his was not the voice behind the Athenaeum obituaries, Stephens supplied the information that the late P. H. Calderon had revised the proofs of his biography for Artists at Home “for his old friend the author.”[74]

Copy of <em>Artists at Home</em> owned by Centre Canadien d’Architecture

Cover, Artists at Home (London, 1884)

Portfolio edition

The Derby Mercury, an enthusiastic admirer of Artists at Home from the first, confidently predicted in March 1884 that the publication, when complete, would be “a veritable ouvrage de luxe, and . . . one of which every lover of art will be anxious to become the possessor.”[75] As it happened, the series concluded in six months, rather than the twelve originally promised, with only 25 of the 48 photographs taken by Mayall and Dudman reproduced in photogravure. There is no way of knowing what happened to curtail the project. Perhaps the expense of printing the pictures was greater than expected and the publisher was losing money; or perhaps there were simply fewer lovers of art than had been expected.

Artists at Home wasn’t cheap. The publisher promised quality—“imperial quarto” size; text and plates printed on fine paper; parts delivered “in an appropriate wrapper”—at a cost of five shillings per fascicle, each consisting of four plates and accompanying letterpress. Five shillings a month was not a trifle: in the last decades of the nineteenth century, a working family might have gotten by on around 18 shillings a week (22 to be comfortable). In today’s currency, those five shillings approximate $30.00, bringing the cost of a full, six-month subscription to around $180.00—and that was for the standard edition.[76] For those with a guinea to spare, the publishers promised a deluxe version of the publication:

It is further intended to print a Superior Edition on india paper, mounted on papier de Hollande, and of royal folio size, which will be limited to One Hundred Impressions taken from each plate before the lettering is engraved upon it: Fifty of which will be reserved for American subscribers. This edition will be published at Ten Shillings and Sixpence each Part, and supplied only to subscribers for not fewer than TWELVE MONTHLY PARTS, beginning with a volume.

At twice the price (nearly $63.00 per fascicle, or around $750.00 for all twelve), this more expensive edition could be purchased only by subscription. Indeed, it appears from the advertisements that Sampson Low had initially hoped that patrons would subscribe to the entire series even in its cheaper form, but by the time the first part was prepared, the fascicle had become available “from any Bookseller of Town or Country.”[77] Without a strong subscription base, the publisher would have to print the plates on speculation, which may well have resulted in a loss.

We know that at least a few copies of the “Superior Edition” were sold to American subscribers. One copy marked “Artist’s proof No. 57” is preserved in the Mariam Coffin Canaday Library at Bryn Mawr College, with the twenty-five loose sheets and plates contained in a yellow cloth-over-card portfolio, on which the title is stamped in gold; another, “Artist’s Proof, No. 3,” is in the J. Paul Getty Museum.[78] Several of the lesser editions, typically described as having 95 pages and 25 leaves of plates, survive in rare book collections in the United States and the United Kingdom.

Cover of <em>Artists at Home </em>(detail)

Cover, Artists at Home (New York, 1884)

Title page, <em>Artists at Home</em>

Title page, Artists at Home (New York, 1884)

Artists at home in America

In September 1884, one month after the final fascicle of Artists at Home was issued, Sampson Low, Marston & Co. announced the publication of a bound volume (“cloth extra”); by far the greatest number of surviving copies is of that form. As a book, Artists at Home was priced between the regular and deluxe editions of the monthly serial, at 42 shillings (£2.40), around $287.00 today.[79] There was a more expensive alternative to this, too—a “large paper” edition costing 72s. 6d.[80] The Royal Academy in London, as might be expected, possesses one of these deluxe editions in a nineteenth-century binding, “grey cloth-covered boards, upper cover and spine lettered in gilt, ‘Artists at Home.”[81] Sales of these volumes may have been slow: in 1887, an “Important Sale of High-Class Publications” occasioned by the publisher’s move to new premises in Fleet Street, offered 47 copies at £2 2s., with an additional 25 printed on large paper at £3 13s. 6d.[82]

To maximize their distribution, Sampson Low joined with the distinguished New York publisher D. Appleton & Co.,  making the book available in the United States. The letterpress reproduced on this website is taken from that edition; in fact, many more copies of the American than the English edition have come to light. As far as we can tell, there were no differences between them, apart from the publisher’s identification on the title page.

Appleton’s agreement to publish an American edition suggests that the Victorian public’s fascination with the private lives and residences of artists extended even across the Atlantic, where books and articles providing background to the Mayall images were plentiful. Articles such as “Contemporary Art in England,” published in Harper’s New Monthly Magazine in January 1877, introduced American readers to several of the artists who would be represented in Artists at Home, along with several of those who did not make the final cut. In 1882, the American abolitionist and author Moncure D. Conway led the armchair traveler through several notable London residences owned by artists and art collectors in Travels in South Kensington, making earnest efforts to glean some decorating tips to share with the American audience:

The question as to the best color for a wall, one of whose chief objects is to show off framed pictures, is a vexed one. Messrs. Christie and Co., the famous art auctioneers, have their rooms hung with dark green baize from floor to sky-light, and certainly the result justifies their experience; but I think any one who enters the hall of Sir F. Leighton, P.R.A. will see that there may be a more effective wall-color to set off pictures than green, not to speak of certain other effects of the latter which really put it out of the question. It is difficult to say just what the color in Sir Frederick Leighton’s hall is. It is a somber red, which at one moment seems to be toned in the direction of maroon, and at another in the direction of brown. It has been made by a very fine mingling of pigments; but the general result has been to convince me that there can be no better wall for showing off pictures, especially in a hall with a good deal of light, than this unobtrusive reddish-brown.[83]

Drawing of Prinsep, Pettie and Alma-Tadema's Studios

Alma-Tadema's studio, from Century Magazine, August 1882

L. ALMA-TADEMA, R.A.<br />
<br />

Lawrence Alma-Tadema, from Artists at Home, 1884

In the same year, Cosmo Monkhouse produced an illustrated article for the Century Magazine titled “Some English Artists and their Studios,” in which he tours artists’ houses—“plucked almost at random”—paying particular attention to the studios, “the pleasantest workshops in the world.”[84] Joseph Hatton, in “Some Glimpses of Artistic London,” published in Harper’s in 1883, performed much the same march through the finer neighborhoods of London, irrefutably proving his point that “the painter has left his garret among the London chimney-pots.”[85] If the number of extant copies is any indication, it appears that Artists at Home enjoyed more popularity in the United States than in England.

As a book, Artists at Home was to enjoy a longer life than the collected fascicles of the serial publication. Unbound sheets and plates would have been more likely to get lost, damaged, or divided, although some subscribers to the series may have taken it upon themselves to have the six parts bound into a single volume, giving permanent form to images recording a specific, and fleeting, moment in time. In October 1884, when the series was finally complete, Sampson Low & Co. congratulated itself on a job well done, predicting that Artists at Home would “form a choice and interesting table-book,” as in certain houses it surely did; and then, the publisher concluded, “the success with which Mr. Mayall has been able to set before us the eminent men and their home surroundings by his photo-engraving process has been complete.”[86]

 Linda Merrill


[1] “Serials,” The Publishers’ Circular 47, no. 1129 (Oct. 1, 1884): 939.

[2] “Messrs. Sampson Low, Marston, & Co.,” Publishers’ Circular 47, no. 1113 (Feb. 1, 1884): 123.

[3] “Magazines for June,” The Publishers’ Circular 47, no. 1122 (June 16, 1884): 571.

[4] Publishers’ “Note,” in Artists at Home n.p.

[5] “Messrs. Sampson Low, Marston, & Co.,” Publishers’ Circular 47, no. 1113 (Feb. 1, 1884): 123.

[6] “Reviews: ‘Artists at Home,” The Derby Mercury, issue 8828, March 26, 1884.

[7] See, for example, “Sampson Low, Marston, & Co.’s New List,” The Academy, no. 622 (April 5, 1884): 233.

[8] Maurice B. Adams, Artists’ Homes: A Portfolio of Drawings including the Houses and Studios of Several Eminent Painters, Sculptors and Architects (London: B. T. Batsford, 1883), ii.

[9] Ibid. i–ii.

[10] “Serials,” The Publishers’ Circular 47, no. 1129 (Oct. 1, 1884): 939.

[11] Publishers’ “Note,” in Artists at Home, n.p. A notice in The Publishers’ Circular (produced by Sampson Low) anticipated this elevated goal: “With four parts of the work before us, it is not too much to say that the promise of the prospectus has been more than justified, and that “Artists at Home” will when completed form a book of national importance and of the highest interest.” “Magazines for June,” The Publishers’ Circular 47, no. 1122 (June 16, 1884): 571

[12] J. P. Mayall, “The Whole-Hearted Homage of a Hero-Worshipper,” The Grand Old Man, in Pall Mall Gazette “Extra,” no. 44 (November 5, 1888): 28. This appears to be Mayall's only published written work, though it was redacted and reprinted in 1899: J. P. Mayall, “Mr. Gladstone at home. The Whole-Hearted Homage of a hero Worshipper,” The Pall Mall Gazette (London), no. 7600 (July 27, 1889): 26-30.

[13] “Extraordinary Fatality,” Australian and New England Gazette, June 5, 1876, 14.

[14] The “household furniture and effects, photographic plant and business” was for sale “in consequence of the owner leaving the colony by the steamer Northumberland.” Classified advertisement, The Age (Melbourne), June 8, 1876.

[15] Census records for Joe P. Mayall, 1861 and 1881, UKCensus Online.

[16] “Photography,” The Times, October 11, 1882.

[17] Léonie L. Reynolds and Arthur T. Gill, “The Mayall Story,” History of Photography 9, no 2 (April–June 1985): 101.

[18] This agreement is noted in many of the copyright registration documents: “Date and parties to agreement: 11 August 1883, Frank Dudman and Joe Parkin Mayall. Copyright owner: Joe Parkin Mayall, 548 Oxford Street, London. Author of work: Frank Dudman, 27 Bloemfontein, Shepherds Bush, London” (“Mr. Armytage, RA,” COPY 1/365/307, Public Records, National Archives, Kew).

[19] Mayall, “Whole-Hearted Homage,” 27 and 30.

[20] Reynolds and Gill, “Mayall Story,” 101; Middlesex Counties Courier Gazette, November 29, 1889.

[21]Art in September,” The Magazine of Art 7 (September 1884): xlviii. The quotation is from Wordsworth’s “Nature and the Poet: Suggested by a Picture of Peel Castle in a Storm, painted by Sir George Beaumont.”

[22] According to The Derby Mercury, “Upwards of fifty studios have already been taken.” “Literary and Artistic,” issue 8818 (January 16, 1884).

[23] “Messrs. Sampson Low, Marston, & Co.,” Publishers’ Circular 47, no. 1113 (Feb. 1, 1884): 123.

[24] “Reviews.” The Art Journal 46 (1884): 256.

[25] Mayall, “Whole-Hearted Homage,” 27. A slight variant of the Artists at Home photograph of Gladstone was published in The Grand Old Man, p. 32, but reproduced badly.

[26] Mayall, “Whole-Hearted Homage,” 27.

[27] “Multiple News Items,” The Morning Post, issue 34812 (January 19, 1884): 3. Essentially the same notice was published in the Birmingham Daily Post and The Leeds Mercury.

[28] “The Premier,” Daily News, issue 11908, June 12, 1884. In his 1888 recollections published in The Grand Old Man, Mayall gives the dates of January and May 1883, but the evidence confirms that the sittings took place in 1884.

[29] Middlesex Counties Courier Gazette, November 29, 1889. Advertisements for the new Park Lane Studio promise “High-class Portraiture at moderate prices” and announce, “Rembrandt Portraits and Permanent Enamels a Specialty.” Classified advertisement, The Courier and London & Middlesex Counties Gazette, December 24, 1889.

[30] Mayall, “Whole-Hearted Homage,” 30.

[31] “Mr. Gladstone,” COPY 1/368/250, Public Records, The National Archives, Kew. There is no copyright record of the library portrait of Gladstone published in Artists at Home.

[32]Some Fine Art Books,” The Graphic, issue 788, Jan. 3, 1885. The original intention was to add other “lay members” of the Royal Academy, but this never came about. See “Messrs. Sampson Low, Marston, & Co.,” Publishers’ Circular 47, no. 1113 (Feb. 1, 1884): 123.

[33] “Artists at Home,” Colonies and India, September 26, 1884.

[34] According to Mayall, “Whole-Hearted Homage,” 26.

[35] “Art in September,” The Magazine of Art 7 (September 1884): xlviii.

[36] “Reviews,” The Art Journal 46 (1884): 256.

[37] Mayall is also responsible for the photographs of Thomas Webster, Samuel Cousins, and George Lawson, artists who were famous in their time but have since faded into near obscurity.

[38] “Reviews,” The Art Journal 46 (1884): 256.

[39] “Our Note Book,” The Illustrated London News 35 (July 12, 1884): 26.

[40] See, for example, “Sampson Low, Marston, & Co.’s New Books of Travel, New Novels, &c.,” The Academy, no. 817, March 1, 1884, 141: “Owing to an accident in the printing of one of the plates in Paris, the publication of the First Part is unavoidably delayed for a few days.” Evidently, the fascicle was ready by March 15: see “Sampson Low, Marston, & Co.’s New Publications,” The Athenaeum no. 2942 (March 15, 1884): 357.

[41] “The Manchester Ship Canal,” The Pall Mall Gazette, issue 5944, March 25, 1884. The Academy published a similar notice a few days later: “Notes on Art and Archaeology,” no. 621 (March 29, 1884): 230-31. Mayall registered two portraits of the Marquis of Salisbury—one “nearly profile face” (COPY 1/368/249), the other “in his Library at Hatfield House, seated holding book” (COPY 1/423/589)—on June 17, 1884, and February 29, 1896, respectively; he also registered two views of the Marchioness on December 10, 1895 (COPY 1/422/866 and COPY 1/422/867), Public Records, The National Archives, Kew.

[42] “The Hot Weather,” The Pall Mall Gazette, issue 6059, August 11, 1884; “Multiple Sports Items,” The Morning Post, issue 34987 (August 11, 1884): 6.

[43] “Local News,” The Derby Mercury (Derby, England), issue 8848, August 13, 1884. Highclere Castle is known today as the setting for the British television series Downton Abbey.

[44] Morning News, August 13, 1884.

[45] “Life and Speeches of Marquis of Salisbury, K. G.,” Publishers’ Circular 47, no. 1140 (March 16, 1885): 264.

[46] Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, s.v. “Cecil, Robert Arthur Talbot Gascoyne, third marquess of Salisbury,” by Paul Smith, January 2011, accessed December 5, 2016,

[47] “The Ex-Premier at Home: Lord Salisbury in the Library at Hatfield House (Photo by J. P. Mayall),” Black & White, July 26, 1902, p. 142.

[48] “Fine-Art Gossip,” The Athenaeum, issue 2933 (January 12, 1884): 62.

[49] The copyright notice describes this as a “Photograph of the late George Richmond [Royal Academy] seated in his studio,” but Richmond was very much alive until March 19, 1896. COPY 1/424/470, Public Records, National Archives, Kew.

[50] In addition to those mentioned above, photographs of the following artists were left out of Artists at Home: Richard Ansdell, Edward Armitage, Thomas Faed, W. P. Frith, Andrew Carrick Gow, Peter Graham, E. J. Gregory, Carl Haag, John Evan Hodgson, John Callcott Horsley, Charles Edward Johnson, G. D. Leslie, Henry Stacy Marks, Phil R. Morris, John Write Oakes, W. W. Ouless, James Sant, and Thomas Woolner.

[51] “Her Imperial Majesty the Empress Frederick of Germany has intimated through Count Seckendorff that it is her intention to contribute 50gs. to the Morell Mackenzie Memorial Fund,” The Morning Post, issue 37553 (October 21, 1892): 5.

[52] Copyright registration, “Photograph of Mr. Woolner RA and interior of his studio at 29 Welbeck [Street. West London]. At work on bust of Tennyson,” September 24, 1883, COPY 1/365/260, National Archives, Kew.

[53] Copyright registration, “Photograph of Mr. Woolner RA, and interior of his studio at 29 Welbeck [Street, West London]. Leaning on a pedestal, gavel and chisel in hands,” September 24, 1883, COPY 1/365/261, The National Archives, Kew; and “Photograph of Mr. J [sic] Woolner RA and interior of his studio situate at 29 Welbeck [Street, West London]. Leaning against chest of drawers, smoking,” September 14, 1883, COPY 1/365/262, The National Archives, Kew.

[54] “Kilburn,” Middlesex Courier, February 27, 1891.

[55] “The Late Sir Edgar Boehm,” The Times  (London), (March 3, 1891): 13.

[56] The Royal Collection identifies this as “One of the two photographs presented by the photographer to Queen Victoria and the Prince of Wales in 1891,” and provides a date of c. 1870–80 (it was, of course, taken in 1883). RCIN 2943159, This photograph was registered for copyright by Frank Dudman (author) on September 24, 1883 (COPY 1/365/259), along with the portrait published in Artists at Home and one additional view of the artist “working on bust of Lord Wolseley” (COPY 1/365/257), all in Public Records, National Archives, Kew. On the Boehm photograph, see also “Kilburn. Local Art,” Middlesex Courier, November 6, 1891.

[57] “The International Inventions Exhibition,” The Morning Post, issue 35234 (May 26, 1885): 2. It was reported that the previous year, a “well-known row” of popular photographs “of artistically furnished houses” had occupied the same hall.

[58] “J. P. Mayall: Portraits of Members of the Royal Academy, circa 1870s,” 19th and 20th Century Photographs, lot 8913 (London: Christies, South Kensington, October 20, 2000). A note in the catalogue indicates that “some of these photographs were reproduced in photogravure in the book Artists at Home by F. G. Stephens in 1884.” The lot realized a price of £999, or $1,444 (in 2000 currency),

[59] “Messrs. Sampson Low, Marston, & Co.,” Publishers’ Circular 47, no. 1113 (Feb. 1, 1884): 123.

[60] See, for example, “Sampson Low, Marston & Co.’s New Publications,” The Athenaeum, no. 2937 (February 9, 1884): 194.

[61] “Reviews: ‘Artists at Home,” The Derby Mercury, issue 8828, March 26, 1884. The same writer observed about the next installment that “the accompanying biographical sketches are informing and well written. The work, when completed, will be of great value, and it ought to be acquired by all who are connected with, or interested in, art.” “Short Notices,” The Derby Mercury (Derby, England), issue 8831, April 16, 1884.

[62] “Magazines for June,” The Publishers’ Circular 47, no. 1122 (June 16, 1884): 571.

[63] London Census records for Frederick Stephens, 10 Hammersmith Terrace, UKCensus Online.

[64] Quoted by Harry Quilter in Preferences in Art, Life, and Literature (London: Swan Sonnenschein & Co., 1892), 64.

[65] See “The published writings of George Frederick Stephens” in Dianne Sachko MacLeod, “F. G. Stephens. Pre-Raphaelite Critic and Art Historian,” The Burlington Magazine 128, no. 999 (June 1986): 405–6.

[66] The Publishers’ Circular 47, no. 1135 (Dec. 31, 1884): 1502. The reference is to “Artists’ Homes. Mr. Pettie’s at Hampstead,” Magazine of Art 8 (1885): 89–94.

[67] Wilfred Meynell, “The Homes of Our Artists: Sir Frederick Leighton’s House in Holland Park Road,” The Magazine of Art (London) 4 (1881): 169–76. Others in the series include Wilfred Meynell, “Artists’ Homes. Mr. Alma-Tadema’s at North Gate, Regent’s Park,” The Magazine of Art 5 (January 1882): 184–88; Alice Meynell, “Mr. Hubert Herkomer’s, at Bushey, Herts,” Magazine of Art 6 (1883): 96–101; Helen Zimmern, “A Sculptor’s Home” [Hamo Thornycroft’s], Magazine of Art 6 (1883): 512–18; and Zimmern, “Mr. Frank Holl’s in Fitzjohn’s Avenue,” Magazine of Art 8 (1885): 144–50.

[68] “Art in September,” The Magazine of Art 7 (September 1884): xlviii.

[69] MacLeod, “F. G. Stephens,” 402.

[70] Ibid., 402.

[71] Stephens, “Preface,” Artists at Home, n.p.

[72] “Samuel Cousins, Hon. Retired R.A.” The Athenaeum, no. 3107 (May 14, 1887): 647–48. See also “Mr. Thomas Oldham Barlow, R.A.,” The Athenaeum, no. 3244 (December 28, 1889): 902, in which Stephens remarks, at the end of the unsigned obituary, “For most of the above details we are indebted to ‘Artists at Home’ (Low & Co.), which Barlow revised for the author.”

[73] Macleod, “F. G. Stephens,” 399.

[74] [F. G. Stephens], “Sir John Everett Millais,” The Athenaeum, no. 3590 (August 15, 1896): 233; “Sir Joseph Edgar Boehm, Bart., R.A.,” The Athenaeum, no. 3295 (December 20, 1890): 861; “Mr. Philip Hermogenes Calderon, R.A., Keeper,” The Athenaeum, no. 3680 (May 7, 1898): 605.

[75] “Reviews: ‘Artists at Home,’” The Derby Mercury, issue 8828, March 26, 1884.

[76] “Currency, Coinage, and the Cost of Living,” in The Proceedings of the Old Bailey: Pounds, Shillings & Pence, and their Purchasing Power, 1674–1913, accessed December 6, 2016,; Eric W. Nye, Pounds Sterling to Dollars: Historical Conversion of Currency, accessed October 27, 2016,

[77] “Messrs. Sampson Low, Marston, & Co.,” Publishers’ Circular 47, no. 1113 (Feb. 1, 1884): 123; “Sampson Low, Marston, & Co.’s New Publications.” The Athenaeum no. 2942 (March 15, 1884): 357.

[78] E-mail message to Albertine Lee from Marianne Hansen, Mariam Coffin Canaday Library Special Collections, Bryn Mawr College, October 25, 2016. Similar copies may be found at Princeton University Library, the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute Library, the Canadian Centre for Architecture, and the National Gallery of Scotland (with a later binding).

[79] “A Selection from Messrs. Sampson Low, Marston, & Co.’s Announcements for the coming Season,” All the Year Round 34, no. 823 (September 6, 1884): 3; Eric W. Nye, Pounds Sterling to Dollars: Historical Conversion of Currency, accessed October 27, 2016,

[80] The Publishers’ Circular 47, no. 1135 (Dec. 31, 1884): 1507.

[81] Royal Academy of Art Collections, accessed December 6, 2016,

[82] “Important Sale of High-class Publications,” Publishers’ Circular 50, no. 1200 (September 15, 1887): 1034.

[83] Moncure Daniel Conway, Travels in South Kensington: With Notes on Decorative Art and Architecture in England (New York: Harper & Bros., 1882), 193.

[84] Monkhouse, Cosmo. “Some English artists and their studios.” Century Magazine 24 (August 1882): 553-68.

[85] Joseph Hatton, “Some Glimpses of Artistic London,” Harper’s New Monthly Magazine 67, no. 402 (November 1883): 829.

[86] “Serials,” The Publishers’ Circular 47, no. 1129 (Oct. 1, 1884): 939.