A Century of British Painters

By Samuel Redgrave; Richard Redgrave | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXXII
THE SCHOOL OF WATER-COLOUR PAINTERS

THE foundation of the Society of Painters in Water-Colours was the means of establishing the art on a firm footing; and while uniting its members, made them emulous of progress, and zealous for the interests of the body to which they belonged; which was for many years the sole representative of water-colour art. Some two or three men of talent, it is true, never joined the society, and there were some seceders from the body. This chapter is not, therefore, devoted exclusively to its members; indeed the artist with whom it commences was a seceder, who turned early in his career from the practice of water-colour to oil.

John James Chalon, R.A., was born at Geneva in 1778; he was the elder brother of Alfred Edward Chalon, a distinguished painter, in our notice of whom we have already told such particulars of the family as were known to us, and of the early days of John James, of whom we are now about to speak. His first appearance as an artist was in 1800, when he exhibited 'Banditti at their Repast', at the Royal Academy, followed, but not till 1803, by two pictures, ' A Landscape', and ' Fortune-telling'. Up to 1805 John Chalon's exhibited works had been in oil; but in 1806 he became a 'fellowexhibitor' of the Water-Colour Society, and then turned to watercolour art. In 1808 he was elected a member of the society, and in that year exhibited, with other pictures, his ' Shorwell Rocks on the Wye', a work which gave him a distinguished place as a water-colour painter. It was exhibited in the International Exhibition of 1862. On the alterations which took place in 1913, when it was proposed to dissolve the Water-Colour Society, John Chalon was among the members who seceded.

It is probable that John Chalon's withdrawal from the Water- Colour Society may have been influenced by his desire to become a member of the Royal Academy. In 1812 his brother Alfred was elected an associate, and many of the contemporary artists thought even more highly of John's abilities than of Alfred's. When in 1816 the younger brother was advanced to full honours, John made great efforts to appear well on the Academy's walls, sending his 'Napoleon on board the Bellerophon', now in the gallery at Greenwich

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