John Lott (1804-1870) is one of the most romanticised English makers, thanks largely to the story ‘Jack of All Trades’ based on his life by the Victorian writer and violin connoisseur Charles Reade. The son of John Frederick Lott (I) (1776-1853), a rather underrated maker whose output was largely anonymous and sold by Thomas Dodd and the brothers Richard and William Davis, his elder brother George Frederick Lott (1801-1869) also continued in a similar career. John (II) also worked initially for London dealers like Davis and Dodd, but left London for a period of travel on the continent, where he became acquainted with J.B. Vuillaume, and on his return to London, often acted as an agent for the Parisian maker. He began to make a number of very convincing copies of Stradivari and in particular, Guarneri del Gesù, who was just then emerging as a major influence on other makers. He worked in a much looser and more interpretative style than Vuillaume, which in fact makes his Guarneri copies more convincing. Very few of his instruments were labelled other than with facsimiles of Stradivari or Guarneri. In later life he taught Edward Withers, up until 1846 a confectioner and amateur cellist, who bought the shop of Richard & William Davis where the Lotts had worked, and subsequently set himself up as a dealer and connoisseur.
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