WATT, John Millar

1895 - 1975

John Millar Watt

John Millar Watt was born at Greenock, Scotland on 14 October 1895, son of James Hamilton Watt (1863-1916), a mechanical engineer, and his wife Henrietta Mary née Caldwell (14 September 1867-19 September 1950). In 1901 the family were living at 136 Balford Road, Ilford, Essex and in 1911, 43 year old Henrietta, who was born at Portrush, co. Antrim was living at 1 Coventry Road, Ilford, Essex with her four children, Joseph 16 and John Millar 15, both born in Scotland with James 10 and Marietta Millar 8 both born in Essex, when their father was absent, a short time later they moved to Gillingham, Kent. Their father James, who was born at Liverpool, was of 1 Coventry Road, Ilford, and an engineer commander R.N.R. when he died at the Royal Naval Hospital, Chatham on 15 July 1916, aged 53 and was buried at Gillingham Cemetery on 19 July 1916. John studied metalwork at Sir John Cass Institute before studying anatomy under Henry Stabler. Apprenticed to Mather and Crowther, an advertising agency, whilst attending evening classes at the Westminster School of Art. After serving as an officer in the Artists' Rifles and the Essex Regiment during the Great War, he continued his studies at the Slade School of Fine Arts before returning to advertising work, supplementing his wages with cartoons for the 'Daily Chronicle' and for 'The Sphere'. In 1921 he created a comic strip for the 'Daily Sketch' entitled 'Reggie Breaks It Gently' but the lead character was soon to become known as 'Pop', one of the few British strips to be successfully syndicated in America, and he continued to draw 'Pop' until 1949, only leaving to concentrate on more lucrative advertising and illustration work. He married at Willesden in 1923, Amy Maulby Biggs, Amy Millar Watt, when they moved to Dedham, Essex and, after a period at Trenoweth, St Ives, Cornwall where he was involved with the St Ives Society of Artists, and from where he exhibited at the Royal Academy. After the Second World War, he and his wife made their home at Chelsea but on the death of his wife in 1956, John returned to East Anglia, living at Fir Tree Farm, Lavenham, Suffolk where he continued his commercial work, including the famous 'More Hops in Ben Truman' campaign of the 1950s. In the mid-1950s he began contributing comic strips to the Amalgamated Press's 'Thriller Comics Library'. A still life and landscape painter and a member of Ipswich Art Club 1923-1935 and exhibited from The Studio, Dedham, Essex in 1923, an oil 'Portrait' and three others 'The Crinolene', 'Normandy Kitcher' and 'Old Abbey Juniege', in 1927 six oils 'Higham from Langham', 'Dalethorpe Park, Dedham', 'April Morning', 'Autumn, Flatford Bridge', 'Overlooking the Stour' and 'Polstead Ponds' and was a regular annual exhibitor with his last works from Corner House, Dedham in 1935, 'Dedham' and 'Upper Park, Dedham' and at the Art Club's centenary exhibition in 1974, his oil on wood 'Elms at Nayland' was on show. John Millar Watt died at his home at Lavenham on 13 December 1975.

Royal Academy Exhibits
from Trenoweth, St Ives, Cornwall
1936 219 Polstead Ponds, Suffolk
1937 269 Willows at Flatford
         395 Bouquet

Works by This Artist