Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Halls, John James

HALLS, JOHN JAMES (fl.1791–1834), painter, a native of Colchester, was christened by his father after Jean-Jacques Rousseau. He was nephew through his mother of Dr. John Garnett, dean of Exeter. He exhibited a landscape at the Royal Academy in 1791, and about 1797 settled as a professional artist in London. He exhibited in 1798 'Fingal assaulting the Spirit of Loda,' in 1799 'Zephyr and Aurora,' and in 1800 'Creon finding Hæmon and Antigone in the Cave.' Subsequently he chiefly devoted himself to portrait-painting, but he occasionally attempted ambitious subjects, like 'Lot's Wife' (1802), 'Hero and Leander' (1808), and 'Danae' (1811). A large picture (exhibited at the British Institution in 1813) of 'Christ raising the Daughter of Jairus,' which won a premium, of two hundred guineas, was much admired by contemporary amateurs, but has not maintained its reputation; it is now in the church of St. Peter at Colchester. His most successful effort was 'A Witch—"but in a sieve I'll thither sail" from Macbeth,' which was finely engraved in mezzotint by C.Turner in 1807. In 1802 he accompanied Henry Fuseli, R.A. [q. v.], and others to Paris to study the collections brought together by Napoleon. Halls completed in 1813 a stained-glass window for Lichfield Cathedral, a commission which he obtained through his intimate friend, Henry Salt, F.R.S. [q. v.], the famous Egyptian consul and explorer. Halls interested himself deeply in Egyptian and Abyssinian expeditions. In 1831 he edited 'The Life and Adventures of Nathaniel Pearce,' from the latter's own journals in Abyssinia, and in 1834, 'The Life and Correspondence of Henry Salt, F.R.S.,' to which is prefixed a portrait of Salt, painted by himself, and engraved by S. Freeman. A full-length portrait of Charles Kean as Richard III by Halls was engraved in mezzotint by Charles Turner. A portrait of Lord Denman by Halls, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1819, is now in the National Portrait gallery.

[Life of Henry Salt; Redgrave's Dict. of Artists; Graves's Dict. of Artists, 1760-1880; Knowles's Life of Fuseli; Royal Academy, Catalogues.]

L. C.