Colnaghi and Company

RA Collection: People and Organisations

The gallery was founded in 1760 by Giovanni Battista Torre but it was not until Paul Colnaghi took control in 1788 that it began its rise to prominence. The business became the major British dealer in fine engravings, receiving a Royal Warrant from George IV.

In 1805 Dominic Colnaghi, Paul's eldest son, became a partner in the firm, which then traded as P. & D. Colnaghi. Both Colnaghi's were widely recognised as fair traders and knowledgable authorities. Despite a wider involvement in the acquisition and disposal of works of art and antiquity the core of the business remained centred on high quality reproductions. The gallery was among the first to recognise the medium of photography and held a sale of the work of Julia Margaret Cameron in 1863. Dealing in prints ceased as recently as 1989.

In 1912 the firm was renamed P. & D. Colnaghi & Obach and in 1914 P. & D. Colnaghi & Co. It became a limited company in 1937. The firm has handled some of the most important sales of works of art in the 20th century, including that of works from the State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, in 1930-31.

In 1982 an affliated company was established in New York and in 1992 a branch of the London firm opened in Paris.

Source: official history (

Works associated with Colnaghi and Company in the RA Collection

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Associated books

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