Looking at Halley's Comet, 1835

This charming watercolour, signed by the artist, indicates the popular interest that greeted the return of Halley's Comet in 1835. It shows three men, a woman with a baby and three older children around a telescope set up on a stand on what appears to be a village street, with two figures, one mounted on a horse, in the background and another looking through a window of the house on the right. The telescope is pointed towards Halley's Comet, which appears in the top left of the image. The comet is also being indicated by three of the figures, one probably the owner of the telescope and another a boy directing a younger child. The comet is evidently an object of interest, rather than fear, and the suggestion is that they are being taught some elementary astronomy by the owner of the telescope.

Chalon (1778–1854) was a landscape and genre painter who trained at the Royal Academy Schools. He exhibited at the Royal Academy and with the Society of Watercolour Painters and, with his brother Alfred Edward Chalon, founded an evening sketching society known initially as the Society for the Study of Epic and Pastoral Design and later as the Chalon Sketching Society.

Object Details

ID: PAJ1974
Collection: Fine art
Type: Drawing
Display location: Not on display
Creator: Chalon, John James
Date made: 1835
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Measurements: Sheet: 357 x 440 mm; Mount: 482 x 633 mm

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