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Chatterton

Photo credit: Tate

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'Chatterton' is Wallis's earliest and most famous work. The picture created a sensation when it was first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1856, accompanied by the following quotation from Marlowe: 'Cut is the branch that might have grown full straight And burned is Apollo's laurel bough'. Ruskin described the work in his Academy Notes as 'faultless and wonderful'. Thomas Chatterton (1752–1770) was an eighteenth-century poet, a Romantic figure whose melancholy temperament and early suicide captured the imagination of numerous artists and writers. He is best known for a collection of poems, written in the name of Thomas Rowley, a fifteenth-century monk, which he copied onto parchment and passed off as mediaeval manuscripts. Having abandoned his first job working in a scrivener's office he struggled to earn a living as a poet.

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More information
Title

Chatterton

Date

1856

Medium

Oil on canvas

Measurements

H 62.2 x W 93.3 cm

Accession number

N01685

Acquisition method

Bequeathed by Charles Gent Clement 1899

Work type

Painting

Inscription description

date inscribed

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