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Copy or original?


On your website one can read that the Rowney Company was established in 1783, when Richard and Thomas Rowney moved to central London and opened a premises selling perfumes and wig powder. Later, the Rowney’s re-focused them selves and concentrated upon producing artists colour.

While investigating my Scottish family connection I have found an interesting portrait. The painting is not signed, but on the backside the canvas bears a round stamp of “Geo. Rowney & Co, 53 Rathbone Place and Oxford Street, W.London”. I suppose this is one of your predecessors.

As far as we know the sitter is the Honorable Colin Campbell of Ardmaddy, the youngest son of John, 1st Earl Breadalbane with Lady Mary Campbell, daughter of Archibald, 1st Marques of Argyll. Colin was (said to have been) married with Grizelda Douglas of Kent and they had a son, John Campbell, First Cashier of Royal Bank of Scotland.

Now, the family tradition tells the painting is a copy. Do you know if your company at any time prepared (official, stamped) copies of existing paintings?

We know Earl John had a portrait of himself painted by de Medina, and Sir Peter Lely painted one of Lady Mary by the end of 1670s. This fellow Colin was born 1679 and died 1708 at the age of 29. He obstructed his father and married a girl with a name not good enough. I doubt if Earl John would have commissioned somebody to paint a portrait of this looser, while he actually destroyed all evidence of the marriage and made the son, future 1st Cashier of RBS illegitimate. One can wonder if he actually was the sitter or was he just reconstructed from memory, to comfort the mother?

We may guess that the portrait was brought to Finland by Ann Campbell, when she moved here some times in the 1840’s. Ann was the grand daughter of the illegitimate John of the Bank.

At the time when Ann moved to Finland you were steady in business. Did you produce copies? From which time is the stamp or when did your company have this address? Also, where can I send a copy of the stamp, if that would be of help?

With best regards,

Tom von Weissenberg
Helsinki, Finland

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