Deans Art 170 Years

Deans Art is Australia's first and most experienced art supply service with a rich history of supplying Australian artists with quality art materials since 1854.

W&G Dean & Co was founded by brothers William and George Dean. They and their descendents would shape the Melbourne skyline, trade and arts for many years to come. 

W&G. DEAN, 65-67 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne, 1887 From the Deans Art Archives

1837 George Dean is born in London on the 13 September 1

1852 William Dean (24) and his wife Mary Ann (22), travel from London to Australia on the Rip Van Winkle, captained by Alfred F Smith. They land at Port Phillip in November. 2

Rip Van Winkle Passenger Listing From Public Records Office Australia

1853 William Dean starts hunting for gold at the Forest Creek Diggings, Castlemaine 3

1854 W & G Dean & Co is established by William Dean in Lonsdale Street 3

1857 George Dean (17) travels in April from London, England on the ship Planet and captained by John Byron. The ship lands in August 1857 at Port Phillip.  4

George joins his brother William and thus the firm of W&G Dean, oil and colour merchants now a limited proprietar, was founded.



Planet Passenger Listing From Public Records Office Australia

1855 - 1887 W&G Dean's is located at 65 - 67 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne

Adjoining The Age newspaper's office they would eventually expand into the Age building. W & G Dean had an extensive business in brushes, paints, wallpapers and artists materials and serviced the soon to be hub of the art trade in Melbourne. 

Their range included materials designed to "fulfill the ambition of every man, to gratify the sense of beauty, and to elevate the intellect" wrote George Dean.


Elizabeth Street, Melbourne. Melbourne : Ebenezer and David Syme 1863 

December 24, 1887 Print : Wood engraving published in The Australian news for home readers. State Library of Victoria 


Elizabeth Street, Melbourne. Sept. 1864. London Tavern Hotel, Age Office, W. & G. Dean, Robertson & Mullens

CA 1906 1 postcard : printed, b&w ; 8.8 x 13.8 cm. approx State Library of Victoria

JUNE 1880 W & G Dean & Co. was one of the first businesses in the new Edison-Bell phone directory in constant use in Melbourne at the time.


1880 Copy from the Deans Art Archive

Edison Bell Telephone Registry Melbourne 1882


1887 The completion of a new cable tramway brought the opportunity to expand into the inner suburb of Fitzroy

1878   Messers Wm. Dean and Co: This firm succeeded to the business of Messers Fitch and French oil colour, white lead and mineral merchants.

A large trade is done with the whole group of the Australian colonies, and the premises shown in the engraving are admirably adapted for the economical working of the business.Extensive cellars are devoted to the storage of oils of all kinds in bulk - a branch of trade the firm make a specialty of - the stocks being very large of the leading important kinds. On the first floor is displayed perhaps the largest stock of paperhangings in the colonies; and other portions of the building contain vast stocks of brushware and articles in connection to to the business Messers, Dean & Co cultivate. 

Running from basement to topmost story is a hydraulic hoist, capable of raising three tons, worked by a simple pressure of the Yan Yean water supply. This enables the firm to move with the greatest facility all the heavier articles of trade. In addition to their special business as merchants and importers Messers Dean & Co are the appointed agents for the Australian colonies and New Zealand for several important English manufactures whose special trades are enumerated in Messers Dean & co's announcement on the last page. 8

The Colonies mentioned above would have included New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia. 9

WM. Dean and Co. Oil and Colour Merchants, Little Flinders Street from The Australian Illustrated News10 June 1878

1897 William Dean dies on 8 May 1897 at 66 years of age at his late residence Glenferrie-Lodge, 46 Oxley Road, Glenferrie, Melbourne. 12

William is buried with his wife Mary Ann Dean who died 14 June 1911 aged 73 years 15 and his  youngest daughter Laurena A Dean who died 16 August 1931.14

Image of William's Grave at Boroondara General Cemetery, Kew © Deans Art 2024


1921 George Dean passes away on 22 July 1921 at 83 years of age at his home in Hawthorn. 3


Late Mr George Dean A link with the early days of Melbourne was severed by the death of Mr. George Dean last week at his home in Hawthorn. There are few businessmen who have had so lengthened a career in the same city, for Mr. Dean would have celebrated his eighty-second birthday on September 13 next. 3

DEATH OF MR. GEORGE DEAN. MELBOURNE. Thursday.—' The death is announced of Mr. George Dean, a prominent Melbourne business identity, and member of the firm of Messrs. W. and G. Dean, Ltd.. oil and color merchants. The late Mr. Dean, who was 83 years of age, first commenced business in Melbourne with his brother, the late William Dean, 68 years ago. 13

Image of George's Grave at Boroondara General Cemetery, Kew © Deans Art 2024



1931 William Dean's yongest daughter Laurena Agnes Dean dies on the 16 August at her residence Oxley Rd, Hawthorn. 18


"Probate of the will of Miss Laurena Agnes Dean, late of Glenferrie Lodge, 46 Oxley road, Glenferrie, who died on 16th August, has been applied for by the Trustces, Executors and Agency Company Limited. The estate, which is valued for probate at £5900, consists of personalty only, and subject to certain legacies tofriends and relatives. £50 to St. Columb's Church, Glenferrie, and a bequest to the Public Library, Museums and National Gallery of Victoria, is held in trust for the Austin Hospital for Incurables, Heidelberg, the Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind, Melbourne, and the Little Sisters of the Poor, Northcote. There are also assets in West Austrailia." 19

1931 Glenferrie Lodge, the home of the Dean Family for many years is sold. 17

GLENFERRIE LODGE: Old Estate to be Sold. Another of the historic properties of Melbourne is about to be sold. Buildings on the estate of Glenferrie Lodge, Hawthorn will be offered for sale by auction today for removal to allow the subdivision of the property. Glenferrie Lodge was bought by the late Mr William Dean (grandfather of the present owners) in 1855.

Since that time members of the family have continuously occupied the lodge. The property is part of the oldest entailed estate still intact in Glenferrie (Hawthorn) and possibly one of the oldest in Victoria.

Until her death in August it was occupied by Miss Laurena Agnes Dean. Miss Dean was a daughter of Mr. William Dean, and a life beneficiary of the estate under the will of her father. In November next the estate will be subdivided and sold. The house is to be demolished and the 'old world' garden of the lodge will be destroyed. Some of the large trees on the estate are said to be more than 100 years old.

The public may inspect the prpoerty on application to the agents Messrs H. D.Westley and Co , Queen street.

November 1937 W & G Dean's opens the Leighton House Gallery. Located on 346-348 Little Collins Street 

"MODERN DESIGN FEATURED IN £85000 NEW BUILDING Adding to the number of new city buildings erected to the limit height allowed by the City Council regulations, Leighton House, a most modern shop and office structure, has been completed at 346-348 Littlo Collins Street.

The owners of Leighton House, W. & G. Dean Pty. Ltd., will occupy the basement, ground and first floors. The six upper floors, to be let in offices, feature the new panel heating for which many new advantages are claimed.

The new building erected at a cost of £85,000 was opened officially on Friday, when the art galleries in Leighton House were opened by the Federal Attorney-General (Mr Menzies)."



The Herald Wed 10 NOV 1937 TROVE


1970 Deans Art Logo 

From the Archives of Deans Art

Mid 1980's The amalgamation with the Camden Art Centre (est 1946) saw Deans become one of the largest retailers of art supplies in the southern hemisphere.

2006 Opening of Deans Art's Brunswick store.

2007 An amalgamation with Natart; a Footscray based supplier of art, craft, technology and stationery materials to schools, childcare, and business; strengthening an already successful commercial and education division within Deans Art.

2024 Deans Art is still an Australian owned & operated business, supplying expert advice and products to artists, designers & craftspeople from all spectrums, be they professional, student or hobbyists alike. 

Have information that might help us to expand this page? Email or call (03) 9485 9500 and speak with staff at our Preston Office, we would love to hear from you!


1 Deans Art Archives - George Dean Headstone, located at Boroondara General Cemetery, Kew 

2  Public Record Office Australia - Unassisted Passenger Lists (1852 - 1923) Rip Van Winkle Passenger Listing

3 TROVE The Richmond Guardian 30 July 1921 Late Mr George Dean Article

4 Public Record Office Australia - Unassisted Passenger Lists (1852 - 1923) Planet Passenger Listing

8 TROVE Scan of The Illustrated Australian News (Melbourne VIC:1876-1889) Mon 10 June 1878  Page 107 Article Page 109 Image Page 112 Advertisment

9 The six Australian colonies federate to form the Commonwealth of Australia National Museum Australia 

12 TROVE The Argus (Melbourne VIC: 1848-1957)  Mon 9 May 1898 Deaths Article

13 TROVE The Daily Telegraph (Sydney, NSW: 1883-1930) 22 July 1921 Death of Mr George Dean Article

14 TROVE The Argus (Melbourne VIC: 1848-1957) 17 August 1931 In Memoriam Article

15 TROVE The Australasian (Melbourne VIC: 1864-1946) 24 June 1911 Deaths Article

17 TROVE The Argus (Melbourne VIC: 1848 -1957) 12 September 1931 Old Estate to be Sold Article

18 TROVE The Age (Melbourne VIC: 1854 - 1954) 17 Agust 1931 Deaths Article

19 TROVE The Age (Melbourne VIC: 1854 - 1954) 16 October 1931 Article