John Millar WATT

John Millar WATT
1895
1975

Best known as the creator of the character 'Pop', who was featured in a strip cartoon in The Daily Sketch (and subsequently The Daily Graphic) for over 25 years from 1921, he nevertheless took his art seriously and his paintings were well regarded.

Born in Gourock, Clyde, he was educated at Ilford, Essex and at Cass Art Institute before joining the advertising agency Mather and Crowther. In WWI he enlisted in the Army and served as a lieutenant at Vimy Ridge, where he was gassed. Afterwards he continued his art studies at St Martin's and at the Slade in the evenings.

In 1923 he married Amy Maulby WATT nee Biggs and they settled at Dedham, Essex, where he became friendly with Theresa Norah COPNALL. One of his 'Pop' cartoons was included in the STISA 1936 tour, but he restricted his exhibits to landscapes and still lifes. He was elected onto the STISA Committee in 1936 and again in 1937, 40, 41 and 43, and it was he who in 1945 put forward the proposition that the Mariners' Chapel should become the new Gallery for the Society.

Watt had wanted to retire 'Pop' in the late 1930s so that he could concentrate on fine art but the continuance of the comic strip was considered of vital importance to national morale - King George and Winston Churchill were fans - and he was persuaded to carry on. 'Pop' accordingly, like Watt himself, joined the Home Guard. By 1945 over 7,000 cartoons had been published.

After the war he and his wife moved to Chelsea and after her death in 1956 he moved to Lavenham, continuing in commercial and fine art. His advertising work included the famous 'More Hops in Ben Truman' campaign of the 1960s and 70s, and his illustrations featured in magazines such as Reader's Digest, Look and Learn, Everybody's and the Princess comic.

media

Cartoon artist and also a still life and landscape painter.

works and access

Likenesses of the Artist: A portrait his wife Amy is repr Tovey (2003) p278

Access to Work: Ipswich; Designed the wrought-iron churchyard gate at St Ives Parish Church, c1939

A portrait of Amy entitled My Wife is repr Tovey (2003) p278

Example of a 'Pop' cartoon p 279 is repr Tovey (2003)

exhibitions

RA (3) 1936 and 37; Ipswich Art Club (39) 1923-1935; STISA 1936, 37 and 45, Touring Shows

Lavenham, Suffolk: 1989 and 91, Church Street Gallery, Retrospectives

memberships

STISA: 1935-1945

misc further info

 

references

Buckman (2006) Artists/Britain since 1945

Hardie (2009) Artists/Newlyn & West Cornwall p351 Bibl

Tovey (2000) George Fagan Bradshaw - Submariner & Marine Artist, etc. STISA Principal members list p228; (2003) Creating a Splash (Illus); (2009) St Ives/ Social History

J  Wood (1994) Hidden Talents