William Callow (1812–1908)

Venice from the Grand Canal

Watercolour, 31 x 46 cm (12 x 181/4 in), Signed, Circa 1855.

William Callow’s earliest exhibited view of this scene dates to 1843 and he was to produce another version in 1846. Both drawings show a sense of bustling activity bathed in the midday sun. In this drawing, however, he introduces a crepuscular effect which shows how effective he could be in establishing atmosphere. The contrasts of light and shade are just as marked as in the earlier compositions, but muted. In his depiction of the palazzi on the left, Callow is working in the tradition of Bonington, though he brings more solidity to the details. The lone gondola establishes a sense of repose as the activity of Venice begins to wind down. Though not attempting Turner’s evanescent effects, Callow’s debt to the greater artist is also clear.