Colnaghi (Biographical details)

Colnaghi (publisher/printer; dealer/auction house; British; 1760; Established)

Also known as

Colnaghi; Colnaghi & Son; Colnaghi & Sons; Colnaghi, Paul; Paul Colnaghi and Son; Paul Colnaghi Son & Co; P & D Colnaghi; Paul & Dominic Colnaghi; Paul & Dominic Colnaghi & Co; P & D Colnaghi & Co.; P & D Colnaghi, Scott & Co; Colnaghi & Company; Messrs Colnaghi; Colnaghi & Co; Colnaghi Senr. Dominic Colnaghi & Co.; Dominic Colnaghi & Co; Colnaghi, Son & Co; Colnaghi Son & Co; Colnaghi, Sons & Co; Colnaghi & Triphook; Colnaghi & Obach; Colnaghi, Scott & Co; Colnaghi & Scott; Paul and Dominic Colnaghi & Co; Jean-Luc Baroni; Colnaghi Drawings; Martin Colnaghi; M Colnaghi; Colnaghi, Martin Henry; Colnaghi, Sala & Co; Colnaghi Oriental; Molteno Colnaghi & Co; M Colnaghi & Co; Colnaghi & Puckle; Moltino, Colnaggi


Market Lane, Pall Mall, London (c.1760-86) 132 Pall Mall, London (in 1786-1798) 132 Pall Mall & 127 Sloane Street (in 1790 as Colnaghi & Co) 130 Pall Mall, & 98 Sloane Street, London (in 1790 as Molteno & Colnaghi) 23 Cockspur Street, Haymarket/Charing Cross, London (in 1799 as Colnaghi, Sala & Co; in 1800, 1802, 1806, 1812-4 and 1821 as Colnaghi & Co.; in 1815, 1819, 1841 and 1843 as Colnaghi & Puckle; in 1822 as Mr Colnaghi; in 1827 as Martin Colnaghi; in 1828, as M Colnaghi in 1829, and 1832-3, as Colnaghi & Co in 1834, in 1836 as Colnaghi & Company; in 1842 as Colnaghi & Puckle) 11 Pall Mall East, London (1826-28) 14 Pall Mall East, London (1827, as 'Paul & Dominic Colnaghi & Co') 8 Pall Mall East, London (in 1834) 13 & 14 Pall Mall East, London (in 1840, 1849-1850, 1852, 1856, 1861 as P & D Colnaghi, Scott & Co) 62 Piccadilly, London (as Paul Colnaghi in 1851) 144-46 New Bond Street, London (1913 onwards)


London firm of print publishers and art dealers. Founded in 1760 by Giovanni Battista Torre (d.1780, originally a pyrotechnist), who was succeeded by his son Antony at an address in Market Lane, Pall Mall, moving in 1786 to 132 Pall Mall. Paul Colnaghi (1751-1833) was b. near Milan, and as an employee of Torre ran Paris branch 1784-7. Married Torre's sister-in-law in 1788, when Torre retired. Took Anthony Molteno into partnership 1789-93. Sala was also briefly a partner c.1800. The firm moved to 23 Cockspur street in 1799.
Paul brought his eldest son Dominic (1790-1789) into partnership c.1810, and his younger son Martin followed. His daughter Caroline married John Scott, editor of the London Magazine. In 1824 Martin sued Paul and Dominic, and in 1826, Paul and Dominic settled, leaving Martin at the old address, and founded the firm of P&D Colnaghi & Co. at 14 Pall Mall East.
Martin continued the old business at Cockspur Street (where he was declared bankrupt in 1832 and again in 1843). The Cockspur Street address also appears to have been taken up during the 1830s by Francis Graves and Co., with the note 'late Colnaghi & Co.' (q.v.). Martin died in 1851 and his son, another Martin, became a successful dealer at the Marlborough Gallery at 53 Pall Mall; in 1908 he bequeathed £80,000 and a number of paintings to the National Gallery, London. There was always great rivalry between the two branches of the family.
P&D Colnaghi was run after Paul's death by Dominic with John Anthony Scott (d.1864), the son of Dominic's sister Caroline. After Dominic's retirement in 1865, the business was continued by his nephew Andrew McKay as sole proprietor (retired 1894) with the assistance of his own son William (partner 1879-1911).
In 1894, on Andrew's retirement, E.F.J.Deprez and Otto Gutekunst (who had been trading together) were taken into partnership. It was Deprez and Gutekunst who took the firm into dealing in paintings, usually via Charles Carstairs of Knoedler in New York. Deprez retired in 1907, and McKay in 1911. In 1911 the firm merged with Obach & Co (whose daughter Gutekunst had married, and in which Gustavus Mayer was a partner), becoming P &D Colnaghi & Obach from 1911-4. In 1913 the firm moved to new specially-built premises at 144-6 New Bond Street (occupied from 1940 by Partridge), and moved to 14 Old Bond Street in 1940. In 1914 the name changed to P&D Colnaghi & Co, and it became a limited company in 1937. Gutekunst retired in 1939; Mayer died still in position in 1954. From then the firm was mainly run by James Byam Shaw (qv) until his retirement in 1968.
The firm was bought by Lord Jacob Rothschild in 1970, which initiated many changes (see the essay by Jeremy Howard cited above). In 1981 ownership passed to Rudolf Oetker. 1982-2001, the drawings department of the firm was run by Jean-Luc Baroni (q.v.) and was sometimes known as Colnaghi Drawings. The print department continued under Ruth Bromberg, and finally closed in the late 1990s.
In 2001, Colnaghi was acquired by Konrad Bernheimer and run by Rachel Kaminsky, with Katrin Bellinger (q.v.) taking over the Old Master Drawings department.


Numbers preceded by an A were given to Modern Prints, chiefly very late 19th and 20th Century British stock, much of it published by Colnaghi's.
S. stock consisted of all those items which were held by the firm on sale on behalf of third parties -printmakers, clients and dealers. They were almost all of a similar type to the A stock.
C stock consisted of Old Master and earlier 19th century prints. The break point came with Whistler who was treated as an Old Master. However, as far as I can remember his brother-in-law Seymour Haden was classed as Modern because he was seen as the founder of the Modern British School.
There was also B stock which consisted of 18th century reproductive prints of the English and French Schools - mezzotints, stipple prints, aquatints, crayon manner and mixed-method colour prints.
In the period between 1911 and 1939 these stocks were handled by different departments and members of staff. My father Gus Mayer was the Director in overall charge of prints, drawings and watercolours.Under him Harold Wright ran the publications department, which handled the A and most of the S stock. Arthur Driver was his assistant. The watercolour department was run by D.C.Baskett, who was also in charge of the B stock. My father ran the Old Master Print Department himself with the assistance of someone whose name I do not know. I have been told that he became an alcoholic and eventually had to be sacked.


'Colnaghi's 1760-1960', 1960
R.B.Beckett, 'John Constable's Correspondence IV 1966, pp.152-65
'Colnaghi: the history' edited by Jeremy Howard, London, 2010 (with essay by Tim Clayton on the early years and print publishing)
Archive owned by Konrad Bernheimer & Katrin Bellinger, and on loan at Waddesdon (2014)