Oil on paper stretched to a stretcher bar
Image size: 11 x 54 inches
Signed and inscribed on stretcher bar in pencil: No. 2 A. W. Callcott
Exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1834
Henry Thomas Petty-Fitzmaurice, 4th Marquess of Lansdowne KG (1816 – 1866)
Lansdowne House, London
Private collection, Long Island, New York
Christie’s, New York, lot 117, n.d (stencil #270KC);
Gustav Friedrich Waagen, Treasury of Art in Great Britain, 1854, vol. II, p. 152.
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It was said by a contemporary publication “Of the numerous works exhibited by Mr. Callcott this season”-he had sent six to the academy-“We find none more to our taste this, it is a long composition of his, embracing a wide expanse of flat Italian scenery, in the representation of which and similar subjects, he has so greatly excelled. The figures introduced at either extremity are executed with taste and freedom; and upon the whole, a more delightful picture of its class is scarcely to be desired”.
These Italian views are undoubtedly the most interesting of Callcott’s work. They show refinement of feeling, a taste for the beauties of that classic land, and, for the most part, an aptitude for turning them to the best pictorial account; perhaps in this latter particular he has the advantage over Claude, with whom his pictures of this class have often been compared.
In his day Callcott was one of the most admired of English landscape and marine painters, his was the name most often linked with Turner’s, and he gained honours denied to Turner and Constable. In 1827-8 he made, with his wife, Maria Graham, a tour of continental galleries and collections, which added a wealth of connoisseurship to his already impressive professional attributes. On his return he became a major figure in the cultural establishment, gaining a knighthood in 1837 and the Surveyor of the Queen’s pictures in 1843. However, after his death his reputation declined, and neither his life nor his work have ever received proper coverage in the literature.
Kensington Gravel Pits, where Augustus Wall Callcott was born on 20 February, 1779, must have been an ideal birthplace for a landscape painter. The village was within easy reach of London but was still surrounded by open fields and farms.