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William Callow RWS (1812-1908)

William Callow, RWS (1812-1908)

Through his watercolours, William Callow reinterpreted the approach of Richard Parkes Bonington to highly popular ends, and ensured that the Bonington tradition thrived until late into the nineteenth century.

William Callow was born in Greenwich, Kent, on 28 July 1812, the elder son of a builder and carpenter who encouraged his artistic talents early on. His younger brother, John, would become a marine watercolourist and drawing master. The Callow brothers grew up at the family home in Tottenham Place, off Tottenham Court Road, London.

In 1823, at the age of 11, Callow began to work under the engraver Theodore Fielding, thus entering a period in which he was strongly influenced and aided by the Fielding brothers. Two years later, he was formally articled to Theodore for instruction in watercolour drawing and aquatint engraving; while in that position he was given his first painting lessons by fellow apprentice Charles Bentley, and was further encouraged by Copley Fielding. Then, in 1829, he broke with his apprenticeship by taking up the invitation of Thales Fielding to go to Paris to work for the publisher J F d’Ostervald.

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