(b London, 21 Feb. 1830; d Croydon, Surrey [now Greater London], 20 Dec. 1916). English painter, mainly of literary and genre subjects. Early in his career he was strongly influenced by the Pre-Raphaelites, and he is chiefly remembered for the lovingly detailed Death of Chatterton (1856, Tate, London), showing the young poet after taking poison in a miserable garret. This won enormous praise at the time (Ruskin called it ‘faultless and wonderful’) and has endured as an archetypal image of Romantic ardour and suffering. Wallis painted a few other impressive works in Pre-Raphaelite vein, but his later career was less distinguished, and he made more impact as an authority on ceramics. He wrote extensively on the subject and made a large collection, which he left to the Victoria and Albert Museum.
From The Oxford Dictionary of Art in Oxford Reference.