Wallis’s earliest and most famous painting is a comment on society’s treatment of artists and writers. A struggling, romantic and melancholy 18th century poet, the starving Chatterton committed suicide aged 17. Wallis has painted him in a Christ-like pose, with torn sheets of poetry and an empty phial of poison on the floor, making him look like a martyr.
62.2 x 93.3 cm
Date of work
Oil paint on canvas 62.2 x 93.3 cm
Wallis was a English painter, writer and collector. He specialised in portraits of literary figures and scenes from their lives. Loosely connected to the Pre-Raphaelites as demonstrated by his use of vibrant colour and depth of symbolic detail, he later painted in watercolour. Widely travelled, as depicted in his later paintings, he became best known as an authority on Italian and oriental ceramics, producing several books on the subject.