In the collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum in London there is an oil painting called A Cabinet-Maker's Office. It shows a cabinet-maker pointing to a coloured design for a commode and bookcase. The desk in the background shows the order book and account books. The figure to the right, holding a pen, is possibly the book-keeper. The notes supplied by the V&A point out that only a substantial business would require a full-time book-keeper. The painting would have been commissioned by a wealthy member of the new middle-class to show off the business he had built up. The design shown in the paper held by the cabinet-maker suggests a date of 1770. The artist is unknown.
Interestingly at the Huntingdon Museum in California there are two portraits of children of John Mayhew: one of Isabella who was the daughter of his first wife, Isabella Stephenson, and one of James Gray at the age of ten. James Gray Mayhew was the fourth son of John and Bridget and became an architect and a surveyor, working for the Westminster Fire Office. He is the man who became the Receiver for Ince & Mayhew in 1824. Both portraits were painted by Charles Ansell and are dated 1780.
Looking at the faces of all three, is there any family resemblance? Could the cabinet-maker in the V&A painting be John Mayhew? He had commissioned the family portraits, and there may have originally been more paintings of his other children, which have since been lost. Could he have commissioned a portrait of himself?
The main argument against this is that Ince & Mayhew’s accounts were in such a mess when the partnership was dissolved, it is unlikely they employed a book-keeper. However, if you will forgive a flight of fancy, suppose the man on the left is John Mayhew and he is pointing to an alteration in the design that needs to be made by the man on the right holding a pen, that could be William Ince!
The Huntington Art Gallery, originally the Huntington residence, contains one of the most comprehensive collections in America of 18th and 19th century British and French art. The collection can be viewed on their emuseum, and includes five watercolours by Joseph Murray Ince, grandson of William Ince.
Sarah Ingle is the great great great great grand-daughter of William Ince and has been researching her family history for a number of years. She thoroughly enjoyed the detective work involved in tracing William’s lineage.