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Vial(l)(s), Thomas (1755–1780)

Vial(l)(s), Thomas

London; carver, gilder and picture frame maker (fl. 1755–d. by 1780)

Recorded at Great Newport Street in 1756 and 1763 and polled at Leicester Square in 1774. Vialls was, however, working before this because Thomas Johnson's autobiography mentions working for him from 1755 onwards. Johnson claimed to have done all Vialls’ drawings and the ‘principal part of the work’ for more than twenty-one years from 1755-6 onward. If true, this means that much of the work documented by or attributed to Vialls might actually be by Johnson.

  • Viall, picture frame makers in Great Newport Street, supplied frames to Longford Castle, Wilshire. from 1756.
  • Thomas Vialls, a carver and gilder, submitted two bills for work carried out at Wilton House, Wiltshire, 1758– 59, totalling £458 9s 3½d, and in 1759, £12 8s. The bills are concerned mainly with carving in the house interiors, but also mention ‘carving a Chimney Glass Frame with Vine Leaves & Grapes’, and ‘carving a bold rich ovale frame for a Plaster Coat of Arms for over the Hall Chimney’.

Two bills from Thomas Vialls survive in the Bedford Office, London.

  • December 1760, is for ‘woodwork for the ground glew'd up’, and carving a large crest, probably part of the decoration of Woburn Abbey after Flitcroft's rebuilding for John, 4th Duke of Bedford. In March 1767 Vialls was paid 16 guineas ‘for a picture of Queen Elizabeth’. This may refer to a frame for the Armada portrait of Elizabeth I by George Gower in the Long Gallery at Woburn.
  • From October 1766 to November 1768 Vials, carver and gilder, supplied to Shelburne House, Berkeley Square, London, ‘Ornaments, Glass and Picture Frames, Gilding Etc.’ costing £71 6s.
  • On 1 September 1768 Thomas Vialls received payment from the 3rd Earl of Darnley of Cobham Hall, Kent, for picture frames, including one for Dance's portrait of Lady Darnley.
  • The private accounts of Richard Hoare of Boreham House, Essex, record payment to Vialls of £2 8s for a picture frame on 23 March 1776.
  • Vialls had died by 12 March 1780, when ‘The Hon. Gentlemen of the Dilettanti Society's Bill to the Executors of the Late Mr. Viall, Carver’ was presented. Totalling £42 8s, it listed ‘Two Large Burnished Gold Frames, Carved with Antique Eggs, Ribbons and Water Leaf outside, with a Scrolling Fluted Frett, Rich Ornament Tops, with Shield and Palm Branches, For Pictures Painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds’, and included 8s ‘to Self and Three Men to Fix up the Two Pictures over the Chimneys’.

Succeeded by William Beaumont at the King's Arms

Source: DEFM; Simon, ‘Thomas Johnson's The Life of the Author’, Furniture History (2003).

The original entry from Dictionary of English Furniture Makers, 1660-1840 can be found at British History Online.