J. B. Bennett & Son


B/W Advertisement for J.B. Bennett & Sons, 'Glasgow Building Trades Exchange', 1896, p. 147

J. B. Bennett & Sons (also known as John B. Bennett & Sons, and J. B. Bennett & Sons Ltd) were a firm of painters, interior decorators and art dealers, founded by John Brown Bennett (c. 1810–1878). In the mid-1840s, Bennett had worked for Hugh Bogle & Co., who from 1847 began to advertise as 'House Painters, Paper Hangers, Gilders and Interior Decorators to the Queen'. 1 Bogle moved to 'commodious premises' at 50 Gordon Street in 1849, 2 and it was from this address that Bennett began trading on his own account in 1856–7, his former employers having moved elsewhere in the same street. Both Bennett and Bogle styled themselves 'decorators to the Queen'. The type of decoration they undertook is described in a review of Bogle's work published in 1853 (while Bennett was still in his employ): 'Some fifteen or twenty beautiful transcriptions from nature, being imitations of wood and marble ... [and] a hall or staircase window in stained glass ... entirely the production of their own workmen'. 3

Bennett's jobs varied from painting a dancing teacher's ballroom in Sauchiehall Street (1857), to sash windows in Queen Street, serviced from his works yard at 114 Waterloo Street. 4 His firm's upward trajectory can be traced through census returns. In 1851, he employed 50 men; three of his sons joined him in the late 1850s; by 1861, he had 47 men and 16 boys; and in 1871, there were 'as an average, from eighty to ninety men and boys'. On becoming an official of the Incorporation of Wrights in 1868, Bennett had joined the city's commercial establishment. 5

After his death in 1878, the firm (74 men and 17 boys in the 1881 Census) was headed by his sons, John Charles Bell Bennett (c. 1840–1912) 6 and Robert James Bennett (c. 1843–1916). 7 Robert was active in the Glasgow Master Painters' Association. In 1889, he helped to draw up 'an uniform mode of measuring Painter Work', alongside the Glasgow Institute of Architects, and he later became the Master Painters' president. 8

The Bennetts began selling modern paintings, advertising a variety of exhibitions from 1889 into the 1890s. These included paintings of the Clyde estuary by W. L. Wyllie, scenes in Morocco by J. K. Lawson, a P. & O. voyage to Australia and etchings by D. Y. Cameron. They also showed Alma-Tadema's Dedication to Bacchus, Rosa Bonheur's The Duel, European porcelain and Japanese ivories. 9 In the early 1900s, they redecorated Flowerhill Parish Church in Airdrie 10

On his death in 1916, Robert's 'particularly fine private collection of paintings' was noted, along with his part in organising the Buildings and Grounds Committee of the 1911 Scottish Exhibition of National History, Art and Industry. 11 In 1924, the Gordon Street premises were advertised to let, and the firm moved to Buchanan Street soon after, before going into liquidation in 1938. 12


1: Glasow Post Office Directory, 1847–8.

2: Glasgow Herald, 30 March 1849, p. 2.

3: Glasgow Herald, 8 April 1853, p. 4.

4: Glasgow Herald, 25 September, 1857, p. 2; 16 October 1860, p. 2.

5: Glasgow Herald, 19 September 1868, p. 4.

6: Scotsman, 27 December 1912, p. 8.

7: Scotsman, 26 May 1916, p. 4.

8: Glasgow City Archives, TD194/1/3, 'Rules and Regulations for the Measurement of Painter Work, Glasgow Mode', A. F. Strathern, 1890; Scotsman, 28 February 1903, p. 7.

9: Glasgow Herald, January 1889– January 1898.

10: Glasgow Herald, 4 September 1900, p. 8.

11: Scotsman, 26 May 1916, p. 4.

12: Scotsman, 5 November 1924, p. 2; 4 April 1938, p. 1.