Gallon, Robert (1845-1925)

Gallon, Robert (1845-1925)
Gallon, Robert (1845-1925)

Robert Gallon was an accomplished British landscape painter who worked in a naturalistic style and was particularly adept at river views.

A pressing question, often foremost in the mind of any young aspiring landscape artist, is how far one should accurately reflect nature as it sprawls out before them in all its unerring complexity. For centuries, the old masters were expected to ‘idealise’ - study the elements, yet arrange them in a manner befitting the divine, essentially as God intended.

While in the late 18th and early 19th century, the Romantics tried to allude to the sensation of being among nature, whipping up its melodrama for emotional effect. But during the mid-19th century, the emphasis switched to something entirely different - painting the truth. Every craggy rock, mossy hillside, rutted path, and sullen cloud. Hordes of British painters gathered up their kit and headed for the countryside, painting from life as faithfully as possible.

John Ruskin, the celebrated art critic, coined the term ‘Truth to Nature’ and set out his naturalistic mantra in a gargantuan five-volume thesis titled ‘Modern Painters’. It’s critical of those who seek to embellish a view for aesthetic reasons, favouring instead the policy of ‘rejecting nothing, selecting nothing’.

Robert Gallon was a student of naturalism, inspired by some of the foremost painters of this genre such as Benjamin Williams Leader (1831-1923) and George Vicat Cole (1833-1893). He was good friends with John Brett ARA (1831-1902) and the two would’ve surely discussed Ruskin’s ideas at length during sketching trips.

Gallon’s early works, particularly those in Wales, are gritty, muddy, and often quite brutal in their realism. Overcast skies are peppered with impasto while the rivers are grey-gold. Mountains are unbeautified and tower over us with an imposing presence. At times, his compositions lack balance, as nature does. He painted what he saw, irregular or otherwise.

His approach was rather controversial in his formative years but as time passed, the critics began to favour the way he captured the British Isles. Industrialisation brought with it a new class of buyer, one who sought accurate representations of local views. In 1873, he debuted at the Royal Academy and continued to exhibit until 1903. He won medals for paintings shown at Crystal Palace and provided numerous works to London galleries.

Well into his 70s, he was still painting - recording his occupation in the 1921 census as ‘Artist. Landscape, Cattle & Portrait’. By this point, his style had evolved to become somewhat more refined - but much like Leader before him, he never lost sight of reality.

Robert Gallon is represented in numerous public collections including the National Library of Wales.


Royal Academy, Royal Society of British Artists, Nineteenth Century Art Society, New Fine Art Gallery, Derby Corporation Art Gallery, Hampstead Art Society. 

Public Collections

Beecroft Art Gallery, Chertsey Museum, Lancaster Maritime Museum, The National Library of Wales, Nuneaton Museum and Art Gallery, Orkney Museum, Richmond Town Hall, River & Rowing Museum, Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens, Williamson Art Gallery & Museum, Wolverhampton Art Gallery.



Born in Deptford, Kent, to the artist Robert Samuel Ennis Gallon (1807-1867) and Cecilia Ann Gallon (nee Russell).


Debuted at the Royal Society of British Artists.


Lived in Deptford with his mother and a servant. Occupation recorded as ‘Landscape Painter’.


Debuted at the Royal Academy. Address given as Tavistock Row, Covent Garden. He exhibited a total of 27 works between 1873 and 1903.


Travelled to Betws-y-Coed, Wales, and sketched with the artist John Brett ARA (1831-1902).


Lived in Alma Square, St John’s Wood, London.


Married Catherine Elizabeth Atkinson. The pair would have three children. 


Awarded a Bronze Medal at Crystal Palace for ‘Brook and River’.


Lived in Alma Square, St John’s Wood, London, with his wife, son, mother, and sister-in-law.


Awarded a Gold Medal at Crystal Palace.


Lived in Alma Square, St John’s Wood, London, with his wife, three children, a servant and a boarder.


Lived in Alma Square, St John’s Wood, London, with his wife, two children, and a servant.


Lived in Alma Square, St John’s Wood, London, with his wife, son, a servant and two boarders.


Lived in Alma Square, St John’s Wood, London, with his wife and son. Occupation recorded as ‘Artist. Landscape, Cattle & Portrait’.


Died in London.

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