A prominent early 20th century painter in Boston early in his career and New York City by the late 1940s, John Lavalle was born in Nahant, Massachusetts. He earned an A.B. Degree from Harvard University and also studied at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts with Philip Hale and with Jean Auburtin in Paris at the Academie Julian.
Lavalle served with the U.S. Air Service as a first lieutenant in World War I as a bombing pilot, and in World War II he served with the Air Force in 1942-43. Lavalle served as a U.S. Army artist, and the Air Force Collection includes 11 watercolors depicting air battles of World War II. He also illustrated two books, Mediterranean Sweep (1944) and Bay Window Ballads (1935).
Memberships and exhibition venues included Guild of Boston Artists, American Water Color Society, Copley Society, Boston Society of Watercolor Painters, Brooklyn Museum of Art, Boston Museum of Fine Arts and Century Association.