A portrait from 1810-1814 of Rudolph Ackermann, shop owner and founder of ‘The Repository Of Arts’ magazine, The Strand, London. via National Portrait Gallery, London. Plus, an image of Ackermann’s premises in 1809. His ‘Repository of Arts, Literature, Fashion, Manufactures, etc.’ was published from 1809 to 1829 with images of Regency London, Regency furnishings and grand homes as well as beautiful fashion prints and descriptions every month. Ackermann originally supplied artists, amateur and professional, with supplies for watercolor painting. In 1799, he began manufacturing and selling his own watercolor paint blocks which were supplied by other colourmen, although at least three colors were his own mixture – Ackermann’s Green, White and Yellow. From 1817, his eldest son Rudolph Ackermann junior was responsible for the watercolor manufacturing. Ackermann also trained as a carriage designer. He began publishing prints and colour-plate books like ‘The Microcosm of London’ and ‘Doctor Syntax’ in the early 1800s.
The Repository of Arts was one the most popular magazines in Jane Austen’s time as it displayed everything ladies wanted to learn e.g. history, important country seats and houses in England, music, current events such as theatre plays, plus fashion plates and embroidery patterns. Ackermann’s shop in The Strand, London, was one of the fashionable places to shop during the Regency Era. The Repository also included poetry, travel reports, society reports and upcoming lectures. It also included serious subjects e.g. politics, legal matters, medicine and agriculture, a meteorological journal and details of the London markets. In 1817, the price of the magazine was 4 Shillings, so quite expensive for the time.
In the first issue, published for January 1809, Ackermann included an ‘introduction to the history of the useful and polite arts’ which said: “It is universally admitted, that to cultivate a taste for the arts, and an acquaintance with the sciences, is a pleasure of the most refined nature; but to do this without regard to its influence upon the passions and affections, is to ‘tear a tree for its blossoms, which is capable of yielding the richest and most valuable fruit.’ The cultivation of this taste may and ought to be subservient to higher and more important purposes: it should dignify and exalt our affections, and elevate them to the admiration and love of that Being who is the author of every thing that is fair, sublime, and good in nature.”