The son of a woodcarver, Jacques-Antoine began to take his first steps in the world of art at an early age. He was barely over fifteen when he entered the Académie Royale under the guiding hand of Gabriel-François Doyien, who had been teaching painting there since 1776.
The year 1779, however, was to mark the beginning of Vallin's studies with Drevet.
He made his debut at the Paris Salon in 1791 and was to continue to show his work there until 1827.
Vallin's later style reveals in full the influence of David and of Prud'hon, while remaining faithful to the typically 18th century training that he had received during his years at the Académie Royale.