St Paul’s Church Yard, London; gilt leather maker (app.1708-d. 1764)
Apprenticed to his uncle, John Rowland through the Painter Stainers’ Company, on 2 February 1708, and made free on 5 March 1717. He was the son of Rowland’s sister who was married to Andrew Hutton, a Citizen and Cordwainer of London.
Hutton’s insurance policy, dated 6 June 1729, stated ‘John Hutton, leather gilder, at the Golden Lyon in St Paul’s Churchyard. On household goods in dwelling house and stock £600’.
The trade card of John Hutton at the Golden Lyon, over against the South East Iron Gate in St. Pauls Church Yard Makes and Sells all Sorts of Guilt leather for Hangings Stair Cases, Screens & Chairs, with variety of Right Indian Screens, also Choice of Cloath and Damask Screens & Covers for Tables, c.1730 [Banks,78.4]. © The Trustees of the British Museum
Letters dated 1731-32 indicate that he became either Rowland’s partner or successor. The cloth merchant, Daniel van Eys in Leiden, asked his London agent, Henry Poilblanc to source a set of English gilt leather hangings for his small dining room on 12 February 1732 and Poilblanc responded on 19 February that he had been given the name of John Hutton ‘le plus raisonnable et le plus habille dans ses sortes d’ouvrage’. He subsequently visited Hutton’s workshop and although Hutton did not have the exact type of hanging requested, he wrote that ‘I Perfectly Understand [....] whatt you meen by some figures Intermixt with Birds and flowers I do assure you that they shall be done in the best manner’.
Hutton’s rates were the same as Rowland had charged 10 years earlier; 6 shillings a skin of 27 by 20 inches, and he advised his client to have a border around the hangings: ‘whether you have a border to goe rounde each peice of hanging as it is usuall and what bredth you would have if youll leave itt to me I’ll take Care that they shall be done workman Like & to Please’.
Hutton supplied his work to:
- Sir Matthew Decker: A Dutch merchant and banker n London (probably made with John Rowland)
- Admiral van Wassenaer, a merchant banker
- The Princess Maria Louise van Hessen-Kassel, widow of the Fisian Stadtholder Johan Wilem Friso
- An unidentified person called Heling.
- Van Eys, 1732-32: English gilt leather hangings were sent to Rotterdam and instructions given for keeping the hangings neat and clean. The invoice totalled Dutch gilders 439. 17. 0, including the costs of the crate, shipping and customs duty, ‘For a suit of gilt leather hangings with india birds flowers & figures containing 122 skins att six shilling 36: 12: 0’. The hangings arrived safely and payment was made 3 June 1732. Unfortunately, by September the joints between several skins were coming loose and an astonished Hutton suggested that a fire was lit in the room and provided the recipe for glue.
Other commissions included:
- Sir Gilbert Heathcote: In 1728 he supplied ‘A Six Leave Gilt Leather Screen Eight Feet High Painted Bleu and Gold Alt’ costing £6 6s;
- Earl Fitzwalter: 10 February 1735 paid £22 for ‘a set of gilt leather hangings, blue and gold, with a damask figure & mosaic border’ for his house in Pall Mall
- Duke of Gordon: 30 November 1737 supplied ‘Two Gilt Leather Fire Screens with Figures & Landscapes and Mahogany Frames’ for £2 10s
- 4th Earl of Dysart: 16 June 1756 paid £19 10s for a set of gilt leather hangings white and gold, mosaic pattern & for ‘putting up in the Room over ye Bagnio at Ham Sixty five Skins at 0.5.0’. These hangings survived and are now in the Marble Dining Room at Ham House (illus. Furniture History (2000) p. 69).
His apprentices between 1722 and 1746 included:
- John Askin
- Payne Hawkins
- John Turner
- Pearce Johnson
- Robert Halford
- John Searle
- Thomas Egerton
John Hutton was buried on 23 February 1764 and his workshop was taken over by his nephew, William Barbaroux.
Sources: DEFM; Koldeweijc, ‘Gilt Leather Hangings in Chinoiserie and Other Styles: An English Speciality’, Furniture History (2000).