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Creator:
William Callow, 1812–1908, British, active in France
Title:

Blois on the Loire

Date:
1856
Medium:
Watercolor over graphite on cream, moderately thick, moderately textured, wove paper
Dimensions:
Sheet: 5 5/16 x 13 3/8 inches (13.5 x 34 cm)
Inscription(s)/Marks/Lettering:

Inscribed in graphite, lower right: "Blois, Loire Aug 25 1856"; verso: Inscribed in graphite, upper right: Blois Loire 1856 | William Callow"

Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
B1975.3.1106
Classification:
Drawings & Watercolors
Collection:
Prints and Drawings
Subject Terms:
architectural subject | bridge (built work) | buildings | church | cityscape | landscape | river | river | shore (landform)
Associated Places:
Blois | France | Loire
Access:
View by request in the Study Room [Request]
Note: The Study Room is open by appointment. Please visit the Study Room page on our website for more details.
Link:
https://collections.britishart.yale.edu/catalog/tms:12430
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In 1829 William Callow went to Paris to work as an engraver. Two years later he met Thomas Shotter Boys, who encouraged him to sketch in watercolor. Callow’s progress was rapid. By 1834 he was teaching watercolor painting to the family of King Louis Philippe of France. This small sketch was made on a trip down the river Loire in 1856 and captures all of the most notable sites in Blois: the famous Chateau to the far left, the church of St. Nicholas alongside, and the eighteenth-century bridge of eleven arches designed by Jacques Gabriel. Sketches such as this allowed Callow to build up a stock of images on which to base finished landscapes for exhibition back in London.

Gallery label for Great British Watercolors from the Paul Mellon Collection at the Yale Center for British Art (Yale Center for British Art, 2008-06-09 - 2008-08-17)
Although contributing to the exhibitions had mixed results for his work, Callow was delighted by his election. His popularity induced him to return to London in 1841, where, gradually, the small, brilliantly colored watercolors of his early years gave way to larger, more ponderous creations in an effort to stand out in the exhibition room. Blois on the Loire, however, preserves some of the freshness and vivacity of his earlier style. This small sketch was made on "a charming trip, accompanied by friends, to Tours and Nantes, and thence down beside the river Loire to Blois" in 1856.6 Blois was known to English visitors as an "ancient and picturesque town," the kind of location Callow preferred to the exotic scenery painted by Lewis or David Roberts (cat. nos. 71-72).7 His watercolors catered to that growing number of middle-class tourists who enjoyed leisurely tours of Europe. In this example, Callow clearly sought a viewpoint that incorporates the town's most notable sights: the famous château where the duc de Guise was assassinated in 1588, the church of St. Nicholas to the left, and the bridge of eleven arches by Jacques Gabriel (1667-1742) spanning the river Loire. According to his wife, these watercolor sketches were worked rapidly and clearly reveal his debt to Bonington's example. In this view, he used Bonington's technique of laying fluid washes of bright color over pencil drawing, while exploiting the paper's whiteness and granular texture to retain sparkling highlights. Sketches such as this allowed Callow to build up a stock of images on which to base his finished landscapes. The years he spent roaming Europe gave him the material he needed to keep exhibiting with the Society into the final months of his ninety-six-year life.

Matthew Hargraves

Hargraves, Matthew, and Scott Wilcox. Great British Watercolors: from the Paul Mellon collection. New Haven: Yale Center for British Art, 2008, p. 184, no. 81

Great British Watercolors from the Paul Mellon Collection at the Yale Center for British Art (Yale Center for British Art, 2008-06-09 - 2008-08-17) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Great British Watercolors from the Paul Mellon Collection at the Yale Center for British Art (The State Hermitage Museum, 2007-10-23 - 2008-01-13) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Great British Watercolors from the Paul Mellon Collection at the Yale Center for British Art (Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 2007-07-11 - 2007-09-30) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Yale Center for British Art, Great British watercolors : from the Paul Mellon Collection, Yale University Press, New Haven, 2007, pp. 184-85, no. 81, ND1928 .Y35 2007 (LC)+ Oversize (YCBA) [YCBA]


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