(Greenwich, 28 July 1812 - 20 February 1908, Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire)
English landscape painter, engraver and water colourist. Callow was born in Greenwich. He was apprenticed to the artist Copley Fielding, where he learned the technique of plein air sketching. He went on to study under Theodore and Thales Fielding, where he learned to colour prints and make aquatints, and was taught water colour painting between 1825-1857.
In 1829, Thales Fielding found him work as an engraver in Paris, where he worked alongside his friend Charles Bentley. While in the French capital he was encouraged by Thomas Shotter Boys to take up watercolours again. After exhibiting a watercolour of Richmond Hill in the Paris salon of 1831, he was offered a job teaching the family of King Louis Philippe I. of France, and for several years gave lessons to the Duc de Nemours and Princess Clémentine, while his own works rapidly gained popularity in England.
Elected a member of the Old Water-Colour Society, Callow returned to London in 1841, and began to paint larger pictures, moving away from the more "dashing" style of his earlier smaller works. He travelled extensively in France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland and Italy; had a large number of pupils, and enjoyed favour with the royal family.
He kept detailed diaries of his early travels, and just before his death, his sight having failed, he dictated an autobiography. In 1855, he moved to Great Missenden, in Buckinghamshire, where he died.
en.wikipedia; The Times, 24 Feb 1908; William Callow, R.W.S., F.R.G.S. - An Autobiography, Adam and Charles Black, 1908.
© National Portrait Gallery, London
WILLIAM CALLOW, (1812-1908), water-colour painter, descended from an old family of the eastern counties, his grandfather, John Callow (1730-1786), was an artist engaged in the decoration of porcelain at the Lowestoft factory, while his father, Robert Callow, was employed in the supervision of building works at Greenwich and elsewhere. William was an elder brother and the instructor of John Callow (1822-1878) [q. v.]. At a very early age he developed a love for drawing, and in 1823, he was engaged by Theodore Fielding, an elder brother of Copley Fielding, to assist him in colouring prints and engraving in aquatint. Subsequently, in 1825, he was articled for eight years to Theodore and Thales Fielding as a pupil for instruction in water-colour painting and aquatint engraving. He worked with them and their brother Newton in London, and from 1829, with the latter in Paris. There Charles Bentley was his fellow-pupil, and he and Thomas Shotter Bays much influenced his style. In 1831, he sent to the Salon a 'View of Richmond' which attracted so much attention that he was invited to give lessons to the family of King Louis Philippe, whose daughter, the Princess Clementine, became his pupil for some years. At the same period he took long walking tours in France, as well as in the Pyrenees, Switzerland, and Italy, for the purpose of sketching. He also sent drawings to various provincial exhibitions, at some of which he obtained medals, and he received a gold medal at the Paris Salon of 1840.
In 1841, he left Paris and settled in London, where in 1838, he had been elected an associate of the Society of Painters in Water Colours, of which in 1848, he became a full member, contributing during his long life to the exhibitions of that body upwards of 1,400 drawings. He acted as its secretary from 1866 to 1870, and he was presented with an illuminated address of congratulation from the president and his fellow-members on completing his ninetieth year in 1902.
About 1848, he took to oil-painting, and he contributed thirty-seven works to the exhibitions of the British Institution from that year until its close in 1867. From I860 to 1876, he sent twenty-nine oil-pictures to the Royal Academy.
Early in 1855, he left London for Great Missenden, where he afterwards built a house and resided for the rest of his life. He made frequent journeys to town to give lessons until 1882, when he abandoned teaching. He numbered among his pupils the Empress Frederick of Germany, Lord Dufferin, Lord Northbrook, the ladies of the Rothschild family, and Lady Amherst of Hackney and her six daughters. Meanwhile he continued his sketching tours in Scotland and on the continent, visiting France, Italy, and Germany. His work became somewhat mannered and after a time it ceased to attract. About two years before his death, however, he began to turn out his portfolios of early works, and these sold so well that in the autumn of 1907, he was induced to open an exhibition of them at the Leicester Galleries, which was a great success. After his death an exhibition of his remaining drawings and sketches was held at the same place in 1909.
Callow died from influenza, followed by pleurisy, and was buried in the churchyard there. He possessed a remarkably strong physique and had an intense love for good music. He was married twice: (1) in 1846, to Harriet Anne (d. 1883), daughter of Henry Smart, the violinist [q. v.]; (2) in 1884, to Mary Louisa Jefferay.
Among water-colour drawings by Callow in the Victoria and Albert Museum are those of:
[William Callow, R.W.S., F.R.G.S. An Autobiography, ed. H. M. Cundall, 1908 (with portrait of Callow, aged 86, and plates in colour from his drawings); The Times, 24 Feb. 1908 ; Art Journal, April 1908; Parish Registers of Lowestoft, Suffolk [1751-1812], privately printed by F. A. Crisp, 1904; Exhibition Catalogues of the Royal Academy, British Institution, and Royal Society of Painters in Water Colours, 1838-1908; Dictionary of National Biography, supplement, Sidney Lee, ed., 1912, Robert Edmund Graves.]
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