1786 - ?


The business that became the Colnaghi gallery was established by Italian firework manufacturer, Giovanni Battista Torre, in Paris, France, in 1760. Torre opened a shop with the name 'Cabinet de Physique Expérimentale', where he sold scientific instruments, books and prints. In 1767, Torre's son Anthony Torre moved to London where he opened a sister shop, specialising in prints, in partnership with another Italian immigrant, Anthony Molteno. Giovanni Torre died in 1780, and in 1784 Anthony Torre hired Paul Colnaghi, newly arrived in Paris from Milan, to manage a new shop in Palais Royal, Paris. Arriving in London, Colnaghi joined Torre and Molteno, and in 1786 the London business moved to 132 Pall Mall. Colnaghi married Anthony Torre's sister-in-law Elizabeth Baker and in 1788] Anthony Torre retired to Italy, and Molteno took over as senior partner when the firm operated as Molteno, Colnaghi & Co. Paul Colnaghi (1751-1833), initially a dealer in steel engravings and during 1792-1797 he published the famous series of English stipple engravings, ‘The Cries of London’. Taking advantage of important world events and in 1805 when news of Admiral Horatio Nelson's victory and death at Trafalgar reached London, Colnaghi had already commissioned a portrait engraving. With a growing reputation, he handled the works of artists such as John Constable and Richard Parkes Bonnington who would bring their landscape engraving to Colnaghi. By the mid 1800s Colnaghi had added photography to their gallery and in 1863 entered into an agreement with Julia Margaret Cameron for the sale of her photographs. In 1911 the firm moved to New Bond Street and in 1937, the firm became a limited company, with three directors: Otto Gutekunst, Gustavus Mayer, and James Byam Shaw. After various owners, since 2015 the gallery’s leadership is helmed by Executive Director and owner Jorge Coll. Carlos A. Picón, longtime curator of Greek and Roman art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Colnaghi continues to sell world class paintings and works of art from 26 Bury Street, St. James's, London to international clients and galleries across the globe. Their international team uphold and advance the firm’s commitment to connoisseurship and cross-category collecting.