The life and work of Sir Augustus Wall Callcott, R.A., 1779-1844
thesisposted on 24.08.2011, 13:15 by David Blayney Brown
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 Surveyorship 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. This thesis is divided into two parts, the first devoted to a biography, the second to a discussion of Callcott's work, followed by a catalogue of known or fully recorded paintings and drawings. The primary sources throughout have been the papers belonging to Callcott's indirect descendants. The appendices consist firstly of an itemised list of these, and then of extracts from them, including a full transcription of Callcott's MS. Catalogue of his work, with its valuable records of patrons and purchasers. It is no part of this thesis to make exaggerated claims for Callcott as an artist. In examining his life and work closely for the first time, it is intended rather to account for his success by the standards of his own time, and to investigate his professional and social links with his fellow artists, and with Turner in particular. Because Callcott identified himself so completely with the artistic conventions of his day, he was bound to suffer when these conventions began to change. For the same reason also, his work and career have valuable light to throw on English artistic life in the first half of the nineteenth century.