From 1828 Charles Roberson was in partnership with Thomas Miller, trading as Roberson & Miller (1828-1839) at 51 Long Acre. Roberson & Miller’s trade sheet listed watercolours in cakes and in boxes, Roberson & Miller’s prepared lead pencils, drawing papers etc, bladder colours for oil painting, ‘prepared cloths and tickens’, prepared panels and millboards, ‘hatchment cloths’, chalks, ‘brushes and pencils’, varnishes, oils and sundries. Artists using Roberson & Miller’s colours included Andrew Plimer, Sir Thomas Lawrence, Hamilton Kerr and Samuel Palmer whilst Roberson & Miller canvases were also used by J.M.W. Turner. Turner purchased paper from Roberson’s to the value of 4s.6d in May 1839. Roberson & Miller were also described as the colourmen of choice for Australian professional artists wishing to order a large stock of painting materials from England.
Within the world of portraiture, those of children occupy a special place amongst our tangible treasures. Late eighteenth and early nineteenth-century parents commissioned likenesses of their offspring for the same reasons that prompt us to bedeck our youngsters in Sunday-best attire and haul them off to the photographer’s. Higher mortality rates made earlier parents keenly aware of the ephemeral nature of life, and perhaps sharpened the sense of urgency with which they sought to halt time through the illusion of portraiture.
This is a super example of naïve English school child portraiture.