Painter and scene designer John Devoto was referred to as being French during his lifetime, but his parents were probably Italian as the name has Genoese connections. His date of birth is not known. He was in England by 1708 when he worked as an assistant to the Flemish painter Gerard Lanscroon, painting the ‘great room’ at Burley on the Hill in Rutland for Daniel Finch, 2nd Earl of Nottingham.
Early scenic commissions of 1719/20 suggest that Devoto established his reputation by creating work in the style of designers such as the Bibiena family, Filippo Juvarra, and others. His first recorded theatre work was to produce designs for Julius Caesar at the Drury Lane Theatre in 1723. At Henry Giffard’s new theatre at Goodman’s Fields, Devoto designed scenes for John Vanbrugh’s play The Mistake.
For the Covent Garden Lenten oratorio season in 1752 he designed theatrically inspired admission tickets for performances of Handel’s Samson and The Choice of Hercules. These are the last known references to Devoto’s work as a stage designer. A John Devoto, possibly his son, living in Bedford Street, Covent Garden, established a drawing school at no. 139 Longacre in 1775 and exhibited at the Society of Artists of Great Britain in 1776.