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Later Victorian Portraits Catalogue

William Callow (1812-1908), Watercolour painter

Watercolour painter and landscapist; born 28 July 1812, in Greenwich, Kent, elder brother of painter John Callow.[1] Trained as engraver with Theodore and Antony Vandyke Copley Fielding and in watercolour by Charles Bentley; worked in Paris 1829–41, establishing a reputation for picturesque scenes and as a teacher, with pupils including the French royal family; from 1841 worked in London as drawing-master and landscapist (Venetian views were especially popular); elected associate of Royal Society of Painters in Water Colour in 1838, member 1848, trustee 1861–76 and secretary 1866–70; married Harriet Smart, a pupil, 1846 and from 1855 lived in Buckinghamshire; widowed in 1883, married Mary Louisa Jefferay the following year; at the time of a retrospective in 1907, he was the oldest living British artist and the Studio noted his faithful adherence to the traditions of British watercolour art;[2] in his last months compiled an autobiography, edited with assistance from his widow;[3] died 20 February 1908, in Buckinghamshire.

In 1906, Callow was described by his nephew as a man of ‘high principle, noble bearing, unflinching courage, honour of the most uncompromising kind’,[4] who lived to a robust and active old age.

Dr Jan Marsh

Footnotesback to top

[1] See NPG x5013.
[2] Studio, 1907, p.142.
[3] Callow 1908.
[4] James Callow; quoted Reynolds 1980, p.153.

Referencesback to top

Callow 1908
Callow, W., William Callow, RWS, FRGS: An Autobiography, ed. H.M. Cundall, London, 1908.

Emanuel 1927
Emanuel, F.L., 'William Callow RWS, 1812–1908', Walker’s Quarterly series, no.22, London, 1927.

Maas 1969
Maas, J., Victorian Painters, London, 1969.

Maas 1984
Maas, J., The Victorian Art World in Photographs, London, 1984.

Reynolds 1980
Reynolds, J., William Callow RWS, London, 1980.

J. Reynolds 2004a
Reynolds, J., ‘Callow, William (1812–1908)’, ODNB, Oxford, online ed., September 2004.

Roberts & Wildman 1997
Roberts, L., and S. Wildman, eds, Arthur Hughes, His Life and Works: A Catalogue Raisonné, Woodbridge, Suffolk, 1997.