Glen Etive, Scottish Highlands, 1878

William Callow

English ( b.1812 - d.1908 )

Glen Etive, Scottish Highlands, 1878

  • Watercolour
  • Signed & dated 1878 lower right

Image size 15.6 inches x 22.4 inches ( 39.5cm x 57cm )
Frame size 28 inches x 35.2 inches ( 71cm x 89.5cm )

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William Callow was a noted English watercolour artist, specialising in landscape, architectural and marine works. He was the elder brother of John Callow, another noted watercolour artist, and was of equal if not higher repute. Both painted occasionally in oils, but it is their watercolour works for which they are most admired. William’s style developed over the years, becoming more confident and expressive in later work, although his early works are acknowledged as some of his vey best.

William Callow was born in Greenwich, the son of a builder who encouraged his obvious talents. At the age of just 11 he became apprenticed to Copley Fielding where he learnt the technique of plein air sketching, then studied under Theodore and Thales Fielding where he leant to colour print and to paint in watercolours. He then worked for Thales Fielding before going to Paris at the age of only 16 or 17. There he worked for Newton Fielding and the Swiss artist Osterwald but also produced his own works, with growing popularity. In 1831 he exhibited a painting at the Salon in Paris, and so impressed that he was subsequently appointed drawing master for the children of King Louis Phillipe, including the Duc de Nemours and the Princess Clementine. He went on to build up a successful and profitable teaching practice and taught many of the French nobility. In Paris he was associated closely with Turner and Bonnington and shared a studio, which he later took over, with T.S. Boys.

During the 1830s he undertook a number of long walking and sketching tours, visiting the south of England, the south of France, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Normandy, the Rhine, the Mosselle and Holland.

In 1838 he was elected Associate of the Old Watercolour Society and left Paris to set up as a drawing master in London. Here too he was very successful and popular amongst the nobility; his pupils included Lady Beaujolais Berry, Lady Stratford de Redcliffe and Lord Dufferin. He continued to work as a drawing master until 1882. In 1884 he was elected member of the Old Watercolour Society and served the Society well throughout the rest of his life, acting as a Trustee and as Secretary.

In 1855 he moved to Great Missenden in Buckinghamshire where he lived until his death. About 2 years before his death he turned out his portfolio of early works and these sold so well that he held an exhibition of them at the Leicester Galleries in 1907. Christie’s held his studio sale on 21.3.1910.

William Callow’s works were exhibited frequently at the Royal Academy (29) and the British Institute (36), both the New and Old Watercolour Societies and Suffolk Street, among other notable galleries. His works are held today by the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Wallace Collection, London and the National Gallery of Scotland, and well as provincial collections at Preston, Bristol, Dublin, Edinburgh and Reading.