Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Chalon, John James

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CHALON, JOHN JAMES (1778–1854), landscape and genre painter, born 27 March 1778, was of a French family which had resided at Geneva since the revocation of the edict of Nantes. In 1789 the family came to England, and Chalon's father was appointed professor of French language and literature at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. The son was intended for business; but his artistic proclivities were strongly marked, and in 1796 he became a student at the Royal Academy. In 1800 he exhibited his first picture, ‘Banditti at their Repast,’ shortly followed by ‘A Landscape’ and ‘Fortune Telling.’ Chalon's early practice was in oils, but in 1806 he began to exhibit at the gallery of the Water-colour Society, and in 1808 became a member of that body. He was among the seceders from the society in 1813. In 1816 he exhibited an important work at the Royal Academy, ‘Napoleon on board the Bellerophon,’ which he presented to Greenwich Hospital. This was followed by a fine painting, ‘A View of Hastings,’ which is now in the South Kensington Museum. In 1827 he was elected associate of the Royal Academy, and became a full member in 1841. Among his later works may be mentioned ‘Gil Blas in the Robbers' Cave,’ 1843, and the ‘Arrival of the Steam-packet at Folkestone,’ 1844. In 1847 he was stricken with paralysis, and died after a long illness on 14 Nov. 1854. He is said by Redgrave to have painted but few pictures, and to have supported himself by teaching. He exhibited, however, as many as 135 pictures in oils at the Royal Academy and at the British Institute, and had made his mark, moreover, as a water-colour painter. In 1820 he published a book of ‘Sketches of Parisian Manners,’ which was much admired by Stothard. He was a friend of C. R. Leslie, R.A., who greatly respected his genius, and wrote of him that few painters had so great a range, or attained to so equal an excellence, in so many departments of art. He painted landscapes, figure and animal subjects, and marine pictures with equal facility and success. He belonged, with his brother Alfred Edward [q. v.], to an evening sketching club, which included Leslie and Clarkson Stansfield among its members.

[Redgrave's Dict. of Artists; Graves's Dict. of Artists; Art Journal, 1855, p. 24, article by Leslie, signed ‘C. R. L.;’ Athenæum, 18 Nov. 1854.]

E. R.