William Callow travelled extensively throughout his life, undertaking a series of walking tours through France, Germany and Switzerland (see lot 44). He first visited Italy in the summer of 1840. During this trip he spent several days in Padua and was captivated by the city's picturesque streets and remarkable churches. He made several drawings of Padua including the present lot. A very similar version of the same subject is now in the collection of the Provost and Fellows of Eton College (illustrated in J. Reynolds, William Callow, R.W.S., London, 1980, pl. 85). Callow exhibited three watercolours of Padua, two at the Society of Painters in Water-colour, London, in 1853 and 1855, and one at the Royal Academy, London, in 1860, no. 343.
Callow, like Bonington, was strongly affected by his first visit to Italy. After 1840, his work has a greater richness of colour, and Italian scenes, particularly those in Venice, were to prove some of his most popular subjects.