Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Clayton, John (1728-1800)

CLAYTON, JOHN (1728–1800), painter, belonged to a family residing at Bush Hill, Edmonton, and was brother to Samuel Clayton of Old Park, Enfield, and uncle to Nicholas Clayton [q. v.] He was brought up for the medical profession, and served his time with Samuel Sharpe, a well-known surgeon, but as he did not see his way to advancement in this profession, he took to painting. The form of art he adopted was still life, especially fruit and flower pieces, painting both in oil and water-colours; he occasionally painted landscapes. We first find Clayton exhibiting in 1761 and the following years at the Free Society of Artists in the Strand, but in 1767 he appears as a member of the Incorporated Society of Artists, and was one of those who signed the roll declaration of that society on its incorporation by charter in 1765; in these years and in the following he exhibited with that society. He resided in the Piazza, Covent Garden. In March 1769 a disastrous and extensive fire broke out which destroyed one side of the Piazza, and most of Clayton's best pictures perished in the flames. After this event he seems to have relinquished art, and retired, having married, to his brother's house at Enfield, where he devoted himself to gardening and music. We find his name again as an exhibitor in 1778. Clayton died on 23 June 1800 at Enfield, in his seventy-third year, leaving two sons and one daughter.

[Redgrave's Dict. of English Artists; Gent. Mag. 1800, lxx. 596; Pye's Patronage of British Art; Catalogues of the Free Society of Artists and of the Incorporated Society of Artists.]

L. C.