Village gossips thumbnail 1
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Not currently on display at the V&A

Village gossips

Oil Painting
1815 (painted)
Place of origin

An oil painting depicting three peasant women gossiping in front of a cottage while, at left, horses are being unharnessed from a cart.

Object details

Object type
TitleVillage gossips (generic title)
Materials and techniques
Oil on canvas
Brief description
Oil painting entitled 'Village Gossips' by John James Chalon. Great Britain, 1815.
Physical description
An oil painting depicting three peasant women gossiping in front of a cottage while, at left, horses are being unharnessed from a cart.
  • Estimate height: 105.5cm
  • Estimate width: 90.9cm
Marks and inscriptions
'J J Chalon 1815' (Signed by the artist)
Object history
Sold at Chalon's studio sale 11th March 1861 (Christies, Lot 268, as 'A Landscape, with Farm Buildings and a noble tree: horses near a pool of water - upright'). Bought by Farrer for the South Kensington Museum for £38-17-0.

The painting was exhibited under the title of Village Gossips- A Scene from Nature at the Royal Academy in 1815. I

Historical significance: John James Chalon (1778-1851) was born in Geneva, Switzerland. He moved to England with his family when his father became professor of French language at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst in 1789. J.J. Chalon entered the Royal Academy Schools in 1796, his younger brother Alfred Edward Chalon (1780-1860) following him in 1797. J.J Chalon exhibited paintings at the Royal Academy between 1801 and 1854. Chalon also designed and produced a series of lithographs titled A Set of Twenty-Four Subjects Exhibiting the Costumes of Paris and co-founded the Society for the Study of Epic and Pastoral Design with his brother and Francis Stevens in 1808.

Village Gossips was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1815. A large tree rises up in the centre of the painting, its branches spreading out over the scene below. In the middle distance a group of three horses stand underneath the tree by a pond waiting to be watered. The scene continues behind them with a street lined with wooden framed houses leading in to the distance. The tones of dark browns and greens convey a feeling of the dwindling light in the early evening. This palette is typical of Chalon’s early work. Although the tree and its surroundings are the main focal point of the painting, it actually takes its name from the group of three women in the bottom right hand corner, who have stopped to talk. The outstretched left arm of the figure with her back to us points at the distant group of horses. This effectively directs our eye into the scene underneath the prominent tree in the composition.

The genre of rural landscapes such as Village Gossips was enjoying popularity at the turn of the nineteenth century. The painting was reviewed in the Akermann’s Repository in 1815. In this review the critic explained that the popularity of this subject reflected the interest that people living in cities found in the “Representation of the manners and habits of the peasantry”.
Subjects depicted
Bibliographic references
  • Extract from review of the R.A Exhibition, "Ackermann's Repository of the Fine Arts", London, 1815, p.338.
  • Lambourne, L., The Chalon brothers: landscape, the theatre and caricature in the work of Alfred-Edourd Chalon (1781-1860) and Jean-Jacques Chalon (1778-1845), London, 1981, p.1.
Accession number

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Record createdAugust 3, 2006
Record URL
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