John Linnell: Augustus Wall Callcott

Augustus Wall Callcott

Augustus Wall Callcott 1779-1844 was a British painter who worked in the grand classical and romantic manner prevalent at the time, although he is known primarily for his land and seascapes.

His river and coast scenes such as Dead Calm, a pristine rendering of water and air from 1820, The Entrance to the Pool of London (1816), and The Mouth of the Tyne of 1818, in particular, built his reputation for posterity.

Callcott was born in 1779 at Kensington Gravel Pits in Western London, a neighborhood that would some 20 years later become a popular artist community. At the age of about twenty, Augustus Wall Callcott gave up a prospective career in music (he was a choirboy at Westminster Abbey to pursue a life in painting.

Augustus Wall Callcott was accepted as a member of the Royal Academy and, under the famed English portrait painter John Hoppner, began a rapid rise through the institution after his first work, Portrait of Miss Roberts was met with considerable success. This led him to pursue becoming a full Academician at the age of thirty-one in 1810. Following this, he traveled widely across Europe, taking in, especially France, the Netherlands, and Italy painting numerous landscape pictures.

From 1837 Callcott began to paint figure compositions where people took on the leading role, such as Milton Dictating to his Daughters. In 1843, the year before his death, Callcott was honored by being made Surveyor of the Queen’s Pictures.

Callcott married Maria Graham (who became Maria, Lady Callcott) in 1827 on his 48th birthday. She was a writer and illustrator of travel books and children’s books. His brother was a well-regarded composer.

Augustus Wall Callcott was a close friend and a strong follower of fellow English artist J.M.W Turner and he made several copies of Turner’s works. The two were similar in their use of atmospheric effects in their landscapes and marine paintings. The famed nineteenth-century artist in turn also referred to the work of Callcott with admiration.

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