Victorian London : Mapping the Emergence of the Modern Art Gallery

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Agnew and Sons

Thomas Agnew began his career in Manchester, as an apprentice to Vittore Zanetti, a framemaker, print publisher and dealer in art and other goods. Agnew became the sole proprietor in 1835, and the firm remained an important presence in that city throughout the Victorian period, helping form the art collections of many northern industrialists including Joseph Gillott. In 1860, Agnew opened a branch of the business in London at 5 Waterloo Place (Agnew, 19). He retired in 1861 and the business was taken over by his sons, William and Thomas. 

The firm handled the work of contemporary artists, such as Fred Walker, Daniel Maclise, and William Powell Frith, as well as eighteenth-century British masters and Old Masters.  In 1867, the gallery hosted its first annual exhibition of watercolors, a practice they continued into the twenty-first century. In 1877, the firm moved to larger, purpose-built premises at 39 (later 43) Old Bond Street (Times, 26 June 1877, 1).

Address: 39 Old Bond St (later numbered 43) [location in google maps]

Start Date: 1877

End Date: 2008

Other Locations: 5 Waterloo Place (1860 – 1877)


Thomas Agnew (1794-1871)
(Apprenticed to Vittore Zanetti in 1810; became a partner in 1817; became sole proprietor in 1835; retired in 1861)

William Agnew (1825-1910)
(Apprenticed to firm in 1840; became a partner in 1850; became proprietor, with brother Thomas, in 1860; retired in 1895)

Thomas Agnew (1827-1883)
(Apprenticed to firm in 1840; became a partner in 1850; became proprietor, with brother William, in 1860)

Morland Agnew (1855-1931)
(Joined firm in 1878; retired in 1913)

Lockett Agnew (1858-1918)
(Joined firm in 1881)

Selected exhibitions

One hundred and twenty original sketches in oil by Édouard Frère (1873) [NAL]

Daughters of our Empire: A series of pictures by Edwin Long R.A. (1887) [NAL]

The legend of “The Briar Rose”: A series of pictures by E. Burne Jones, A.R.A. (1890) [NAL]

Some examples of independent art of to-day (1906) (Including work by Philip Wilson Steer, Augustus John, Walter Sickert, and Henry Tonks) [NAL]

For more exhibitions, see “Exhibitions associated with: Thomas Agnew and Sons” []
Exhibition Culture in London 1878-1908, University of Glasgow

Exhibition catalogues:  National Art Library, London

Stock books

Microform 1853-1881; 1882-1919 (National Art Library, London)

Microform 1852-1938 (Getty Research Library, Los Angeles)


Agnew, Geoffrey. Agnew’s 1817-1967. London, 1967.

Farr, Dennis. “Agnew family (per. 1817–1986).” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Sept 2010 [] Accessed 9 July 2012.

Fletcher, Pamela and Anne Helmreich, “Selected galleries, dealers and exhibition spaces in London, 1850-1939,” In The Rise of the Modern Art Market in London, 1850-1939. Eds. Pamela Fletcher and Anne Helmreich. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2011. 294.

Garnett, Oliver. “Agnew, Thos, & Sons.” In Grove Art OnlineOxford Art Online,
[] Accessed 9 July 2012.

How to cite:
Pamela Fletcher and David Israel, London Gallery Project, 2007; Revised September 2012.

Bowdoin College