Henry Wallis

Date of birth: 1830 — Date of death: 1916

Painter. Son of Mary Ann Thomas (father unknown), Wallis took his stepfather's name when his mother remarried Andrew Wallis in 1845. He entered the Royal Academy in 1848 and though on the fringes of the Pre-Raphaelite circle, painted some of the most familiar images of the later Pre-Raphaelite period. Wallis's acquaintance, the novelist George Meredith (1828-1909) sat for his Death of Chatterton (1856), a work greatly admired by John Ruskin (1819-1900). Wallis and Meredith's wife, Mary Ellen, became lovers and the couple had a son, Harold Meredith (later Wallis) in 1858. Wallis's The Stonebreaker (1858) is in the collection of Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery. Depicting a dead labourer, the work's implied criticism of the Poor Law cemented Wallis's reputation. On his stepfather's death in 1859, Wallis received a substantial inheritance after which he became financially independent. Elected a Member of the Old Watercolour Society in 1880, Wallis was an important collector and expert on ceramics.