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Sir John Bennett 'Clocks'

Spy (Sir Leslie Ward) (1851-1922)



Watercolour and bodycolour with pencil

12 x 7 ½ inches

Vanity Fair, 13 January 1883, Men of the Day no 272, 'Clocks'

Chris Beetles & Alexander Beetles (eds.) Portraits of Vanity Fair: The Charles Sigety Collection, London: Chris Beetles Ltd, 2023, page 61

'Portraits of Vanity Fair: The Charles Sigety Collection', Chris Beetles Gallery, London, October-November 2023, no 29

The son of a watchmaker, Sir John Bennett (1814-1897) took over the business after his father’s death. He promoted his company extensively in the media and it grew into a highly successful business, becoming a limited company in 1889. Bennett was a common councilman for Cheap ward, London from 1860 to 1888. In 1871 he was elected sheriff of London and Middlesex and was knighted on 14 March 1872. He stood for parliament three time, in 1873, 1874 and 1886 but was unsuccessful on each occasion.

“Sixty-eight years ago a son was born to an estimable citizen of Greenwich. Providence filled up the child with a certain set of brains, an unexaggerated collection of scruples, and a remarkable head of hair. Equipped with these gifts, John Bennett faced the world, and in due time rose to be a clockmaker. He advertised timepieces with such skill that he gradually became a light of the City, and was able to bestow his energies on popular education and other useful subjects. In the midst of these labours he found time to captivate the Fair, and thus (as he believes) he earned the jealousy of the Court of Aldermen. These envious persons have never allowed Sir John to become Lord Mayor; but he revenges himself by taking volumes of popular applause and by captivating the Fair more than ever.”

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