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View of Rouen on the Seine

William Callow

(1812 - 1908) | 2000.5.1

Date : 1855 | Medium : Watercolour over pencil

Paris, during the 1830s, with his compatriots Newton Fielding and Thomas Schotter Boys, William Callow learned the basics of what was to become his discipline par excellence: topographical watercolours. In a long career crowned with success, he crisscrossed Europe in every direction. He had a particular connection with France, where he lived from 1831 to 1841, amongst other things teaching watercolour to two children of Louis-Philippe, Prince of Joinville and Princess Clémentine. After his stay in England, he became one of the most eminent members of the Society of Painters in Watercolour, regularly exhibiting works that could be quite large in his mature period.

Callow visited Rouen several times, but this view can certainly be linked with the journey he made to Normandy in 1854, when he sailed up the Seine in a steam boat from Le Havre to Rouen. The exceptionally good condition of this large watercolour makes it possible to appreciate the dextrous rendering that made the artist so famous, his colours, warm and cool by turns, and his combination of subtle tonal shading and precise drawing, traced by means of a fine brush.

It provides a particularly appealing image of the quays at Rouen seen from the Cours La Reine, with Lacroix island and Corneille bridge in the foreground, and beyond the fine spread of façades on the right bank, the towers of the cathedral and Saint-Ouen abbey, and the cupola of the Great Clock.