Joseph Clayton Bentley

Born 1809
Died 1851
Place of Birth Bradford
Place of Death Sydenham, Kent
Gender Male
Biographical Notes Joseph Clayton Bentley (1809–1851), English line-engraver and painter. He was the son of Greenwood Bentley (1777–1858), a well-known Bradford solicitor, and Jane, the daughter of Robert Stockdale, gentleman, of West Marton, Skipton, Yorkshire. In his youth in Bradford he was acquainted with Branwell Brontë. Having begun as a painter of landscapes, in 1832 he went to London, where, like Edward Paxman Brandred, he studied engraving under Robert Brandred. He produced numerous topographical plates for Fisher, Son & Co., and George Virtue, among other publishers, and for Virtue’s Art Journal. In addition to landscape art, he was also associated with illustrations of literary works, including Scott’s Waverley novels and Baroness de Calabrella’s Evenings at Haddon Hall. Among the contemporary artists whose works he engraved are Turner, Constable, Creswick, Callcott, Allom, Cattermole, and Bartlett.

Bentley continued to paint throughout his career, exhibiting landscapes in the Royal Academy, the Portland Gallery, the British Institution, the Society of British Artists, and provincial galleries. He was elected a member of the Artists’ Annuity Fund in 1839. Hunnisett describes him as ‘one of the most remarkable engravers’ on account of his prolific output in only nineteen years in that career. His obituary in the Art Journal noted several engravings for which he was known, and judged that his work as an engraver had benefited from his knowledge of painting. He was survived by his widow and two children.

Christine Alexander and Jane Sellars, The art of the Brontës (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995).
Gaze, Delia, ‘Bentley, Joseph Clayton (1809–1851), engraver and painter’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, online at, consulted 30.06.2018.
Robert E. Graves, ‘Bentley, Joseph Clayton’, Dictionary of National Biography, ed. Stephen Leslie (London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885).
Basil Hunnisett, Steel-Engraved Book Illustration in England, reprint (Boston, MA: David R. Godine, 1980).
Obituary’, Art Journal, new series, vol. 4 (1852), 15.
‘Will of Joseph Clayton Bentley, Artist of Sydenham, Kent’, The National Archives, Kew, PROB 11/2141/304.

Jane Conroy