Ackermann’s Repository of Arts/Series 1/Volume 1/January 1809/Repository of Arts
Plate 2.——REPOSITORY OF ARTS.
This plate is a representation of Mr. Ackermann's Shop, No. 101, Strand, and is the commencement of a series of plates intended to exhibit the principal shops of this great metropolis, in the same manner as the Microcosm of London represents the interior of the public buildings. It will afford the opportunity of entering into a partial detail of the different manufactures that are exposed in them for sale; and we flatter ourselves will form an useful, as well as interesting, part of our work. This shop stands upon part of the court-yard in front of which was Beaufort-House, formerly a town residence of the noble family whose name it bore, and was one of the great number of mansions which, at no very distant period, lined the bank of the Thames from Temple- bar to the city of Westminster. The noble and lofty apartments of the house, which commences at the back part of the shop, and a fine oak staircase of considerable dimensions, bear a testimony of its former magnificence. After it had ceased to be the residence of the Beaufort family, it was converted into the Fountain Tavern, a house of great celebrity in former days, and was remarkable from the circumstance of Lord Lovat stopping there to lake refreshment on his way from Westminster-Hall to the Tower, and writing with his diamond ring the following couplet upon a pane of glass in the great room:
Oh! through what various scenes of life we run,
Are wicked to be great, and being great undone!
This room, which is 65 feet in length, 30 in width, and 24 in height, was formerly occupied by Mr. Shipley, brother to the bishop of that name; he kept a most respectable drawing academy here: among his pupils were, Mr. W. Parr, who died at Rome, C. Smart, Esq. and the celebrated R. Cosway, Esq. R.A.: the latter had in his possession the pane of glass before-mentioned. A curious, but well-authenticated anecdote is related of Henry Parr's wife (H. Parr succeeded Shipley in this academy,) who had been confined to the house upwards of nine years by a paralytic affection, which during that period entirely deprived her of speech. One day, in the absence of her husband, the servant-maid abruptly entering her apartment, told her that the adjoining house was on fire, which had such an effect upon her system, that her powers of utterance returned instantaneously, and she continued to enjoy them again to the day of her death, which did not happen for soma years afterwards.
This room is famous on another account, having been the scene of Mr. Thelwall's early political lectures. When the interposition of government put a stop to this exhibition, Mr. A. purchased the lease; and it became once more the peaceful academy of drawing, upon a very extended scale, employing three masters in the separate branches of this art, one for figures, a second for landscape, and a third for architecture. But the increase of Mr. Ackermann's business as a publisher, printseller, and manufacturer of fancy articles, rendered the convenience of this room as a warehouse a more desirable object than the profit to he derived from it as an academy. For eight or ten years previous to entering so largely in the fancy business, Mr. A. had been employed in furnishing the principal coachmakers with designs and models for new and improved carriages. Among many instances of his taste and abilities in this line, the state coach built for the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, in 1790, which cost over 7000l. and one for the Lord Mayor of Dublin in the following year, were designed and modelled by him. It has been said, that Philip Godsal, Esq. who has the model of the Lord Lieutenant's coach, has actually refused one hundred guineas for it, and it is more than probable, he would not sell it for twice that sum.
During the period when the French emigrants were so numerous in this country, Mr. A. was among the first to strike out a liberal and easy mode of employing them, and he had seldom less than fifty nobles, priests, and ladies of distinction, at work upon screens, card-racks, flower-stands, and other ornamental fancy-works of a similar nature. Since the decree permitting the return of the emigrants to France, this manufacture has been continued by native artists, who execute the work in a very superior style: but it is impossible in this place to notice the great variety of articles which it embraces. The public are referred to a catalogue of near 100 pages, which conveys every information that can be necessary, and will be our apology for omitting any further observations; we shall therefore only add, that since Mr. A. has given up the academy, he has substituted a port-folio of prints and drawings for the use of pupils and dilitanti, upon the plan of a circulating library of books, the terms of which are as follow:
The money paid at the time of subscribing. The subscribers are allowed to take the value of their subscription money in prints or drawings, and may change them as often as they please.