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A DOCUMENTED REVIEW OF THE HOUSE-PAINTING TRADE INLONDON ca.1660 - 1850 PREFACELittle has been written about the house-painting trade from an historical perspective. Whilstonly an initial survey, this paper sets out to look at the way the trade was carried out in London between the years of the Restoration and the mid-nineteenth century. The aim of this piece of coursework is to look at the house-painter as a person, and to prepare the ground for further  papers on the materials that he worked with, and the results achieved with them. In thefollowing pages, a brief account will be given on his background and training; the organisationof the trade; his place in the building industry, and in society; and the conditions he worked in.This study has been based on the trade as practised in London, partly with the aim of limiting itsextent, but also because information is scant about the trade in the country as a whole.Many of the larger towns and cities would have had their own Guilds, partly commercial and partly social, which would have regulated the conditions of their trade and afforded their members some degree of mutual protection and support.How far their situation reflected those in the capital is hard to say. This area offers researchopportunities as yet barely touched upon, however, until these are taken up, this paper willattempt to act as an introduction.Patrick Baty1993A dissertation submitted to the Faculty of Design & the Built Environment of the University of East London in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Bachelor of Arts (Hons) by Independent Study. CHAPTER ONEINTRODUCTIONHouse-painting, with regards to maintenance, would have been carried out by property ownerson an ad-hoc basis from the earliest days. However, for the purposes of decoration, it is morelikely that it would have been undertaken by a professional. In the larger cities, craftsmencarrying out both decorative and necessary painting tended to form themselves into fraternitiesor Guilds. In the City of London, these Guilds had been exercising more or less effective controlover their trade since the Tudor period.Their rules and traditions restricted entry to those who had served as an apprentice to a Guildmember, and who had proved themselves to be competent workmen. The concept of serving anapprenticeship was inextricably linked with joining a Guild, and therefore practising the trade inthe City of London.Membership of a Guild, or Livery Company, as they became, gave a certain status to atradesman, and provided him with rights of franchise and of office, and support in times of hardship and old age. However, these advantages diminished as the rules for entry relaxed, andthe City became a smaller part of the growing metropolis.Prior to our period, the painter was very much a craftsman; he might be called upon to supply paintings on walls, as well as on panel and canvas. He may also have been expected to paintreligious, civic, and military banners and heraldic shields. 1 Equally, he would gild and paintarchitectural details, and with the increasing use of softwood in building, would need to apply a protective coating to preserve the different materials from the action of air and damp.The requirement to paint external softwood in order to protect it from the elements, and theappearance of deal on internal panelling led to an increased use of oil paint. Fashions, too,changed, and tapestry hangings and painted wall cloths tended to be used less in middle classhouses. Painting gradually developed from being a craft practice into a mix of craft and trade.As the trade fragmented into its different branches, many aspects of the earlier system ceased to be of relevance. This, together with economic and social factors, and certain technicaldevelopments, led to the gradual decline in control of the trade by the Livery Company, and theconsequent ending of the regulation of standards. 1 (Constable 1979, 8). 2 CHAPTER TWOAPPRENTICESHIPThe Apprenticeship SystemEighteenth century London was an expanding city, which relied for its growth on a large number of immigrants from outside. At this time, about one in six Englishmen and women lived in thecapital, or would do so at some stage in their lives. 2 The apprenticeship system was set up by statute in the days of Elizabeth I. 3 It allowed mastersto take apprentices for a period of seven to eight years, and flourished in most of the major towns and cities of the country.Parents went to some lengths to arrange apprenticeship for their sons. They were required tofind a suitable master, agree on the contract and pay the premium. Masters were limited in thenumber of apprentices that they could take.TrainingApprenticeship typically began at the age of sixteen. Work conditions varied but the averageday began at 7:00 A.M. and lasted until 9:00 P.M., with a break of two hours for a middaymeal. 4 During the winter months it would not have been possible to carry out much work on site after the late afternoon. Presumably the remainder of the day would have been spent in the moremenial tasks as described below.During their seven years of training, they would not only be taught their master's trade, butwould assist on commissions. As they progressed, and became competent in the several branchesof their "mystery", they were entrusted with more specialised tasks, and may even have helpedwith the accounts and in direct dealing with the client.When his training was completed, the apprentice's skills were tested by representatives of theLivery Company. Then, at three successive meetings, the apprentice was "called", and if therewere no objections to his election, he was sworn in as a member of the Company. 5 In many trades, seven years was merely a way of providing masters with cheap labour. The basics of most could be mastered in a few months, according to critics. 6 On the other hand,serving an apprenticeship was the commonest way to become a full member of a LiveryCompany and acquire the freedom of the City of London, an essential part of an ambitiousyoung man's plans. 2 (Wrigley 1967). 3 (5 Eliz. I). 4 (Earle 1989, 101). 5   (Beard 1986, 8). 6 (Campbell 1747, 104). 3 View on Scribd