Signed or inscribed l.l.: W Callow, inscribed l.c.: Le Forum/prise de l’arc de Constantin/26 Sept 40, watercolour over pencil on buff paper
24.5 x 36 cm; 9 5/8 x 14 1/4 inches
Albany Gallery, from where purchased by the present owner;
Private collection, U.K.
Callow made his first trip to Italy in 1840 and spent ten days sketching in Rome, when the present work was done. Like many artists he was strongly affected by the country and his Italian views were to become some of his most popular subjects.
This drawing is inscribed in French, like other drawings of the period, as Callow had been living in France since 1829. He had obtained great success and royal patronage there and in 1840 he was awarded the gold medal at the Paris Salon. He received commissions for five large watercolours from Marie Amélie, the Duc de Nemours and his pupil Princess Clémentine after they inspected his Italian sketches at the Tuileries Palace. He enjoyed much royal favour but the political instability in France and the prospect of Louis Philippe’s abdication caused him to return to England in March 1841 (see Jan Reynolds, William Callow, 1980, pp. 76-77).
It has been suggested that the signature may have been added by Callow’s wife at a later date. A similar drawing of the Ponte Cartro, Rome dated 28 September is in the collection of the Cecil Higgins Art Gallery, Bedford.