Henry Wallis

Study for ‘Chatterton’

c.1856

Medium
Ink on paper
Dimensions
Support: 194 x 254 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Purchased 1973
Reference
T01721

Technique and condition

This sketch is a pen and ink study for the painting Death of Chatterton. The dead poet is lying on his side on a simple bed with his right arm hanging down to the floor.

The image is executed in iron gall ink with fine brown ink lines and broader, looser ink strokes to block out areas of shadow. The support is a pale blue, light-weight, wove, machine-made writing paper in moderate to poor condition. The unpainted areas are in moderate condition with some yellow discolouration and faint foxing marks visible, but the bottom half of the support (where the drawing is concentrated) is in poor condition with fractured lines and areas of loss due to degradation of the support by the iron gall ink.

Katharine Lockett
April 2003

Catalogue entry

Henry Wallis 1830–1916

T01721 Study for ‘Chatterton’ c.1856

Not inscribed.
Ink, 7¿ x 9 15/16 (19.4 x 25.2).
Purchased from Mrs C. Whiting (Grant-in-Aid) 1973.
Coll: By descent from the artist to his daughter-in-law Alice Julia Wallis (née Roberts), and thence to her great niece Mrs C. Whiting.

T01721 and T01722 are studies for Wallis’ painting ‘Chatterton’, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1856 and now in the Tate Gallery (N01685). The pose of the figure in T01721 corresponds more or less with that in the painting. T01722 is less close. In the painting Chatterton’s face is considerably more idealised than in either drawing. The model was George Meredith.

Published in The Tate Gallery Report 1972–1974, London 1975.