Artwork Information

  • Title:

    Market Square in a Flemish Town, A

  • Artist:

    Callow, William

  • Artist Bio:

    British, 1812–1908

  • Date:


  • Medium:

    Watercolor, gouache, and graphite on paper

  • Dimensions:

    16 1/8 x 24 7/8 inches

  • Credit Line:

    Wichita Art Museum, Museum purchase, Virginia and George Ablah Fund

  • Object Number:


  • Display:

    Not Currently on Display

About the Artwork

Toward the middle of his long and highly prolific career, the noted British watercolorist William Callow executed an extensive number of large-scale works which he composed for inclusion in major exhibitions where oils and watercolors were often in open competi­tion.

This rather complex composition titled A Market Square in a Flemish Town was painted in 1858 by Callow following one of his many extended tours in Europe. The scene, organized somewhat in the manner of a symmetrically balanced stage set, depicts a broad pic­turesque open square where a typical European town market is held. Small groups of people are clustered at scattered locations throughout the site. Yet the tempo is less lively than one might expect, for the concentrated crowds that normally gather during market hours have dispersed and it would seem, that the market is about to close down for the day.

As with many of Callow’s fine watercolors of this period, an abundance of descriptive detail is introduced here, imparting an accurate character rendering of specific topographic features of the town as well as of the event itself including the partially enclosed stalls and the towering timbered mediaeval buildings at the left, the small stucco-surfaced houses with projecting wooden shop fronts at the right, the adjacent stone facade of a late Gothic church, and the stepped gables atop the row of narrow Flemish houses seen along the crooked and downward-sloping street in the central distance.

Callow’s technique here is indeed typical of much of his work during this period, for the drawing is skillfully rendered in pencil and the forms thereafter are covered with clear transparent color washes. Throughout the composition the color tones employed are rich and warm with just an occasional dash of bright color added here and there to catch and momentarily halt eye move­ment and thus focus the viewer’s attention on aspects of thematic detail.

William Callow was born in Greenwich near London in 1812. At an early age he left England for study in Paris where he came under the lingering influence of Richard Parkes Bonington and Thomas Shotter Boys. While still quite young, Callow was elected to member­ship in the Old Watercolour Society. Throughout his career, he was actively engaged as a drawing master, sometimes in France and at other times in England, always maintaining a thoroughly successful and lucrative practice. He traveled regularly and widely throughout England and in most of Western Europe and died at Great Missenden, England, in 1908 at the age of 96 years.