Pair of Mid 19th Century Oil on Canvas attributed to William Calcott Knell (British 1830-1880)


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Elder son of the renowned artist William Adolphus Knell, William Calcott Knell received an education from his father in British maritime painting alongside his younger brother, Adolphus Knell. William Adolphus Knell himself received royal patronage and awards for his work; his sons likewise attained great success. From 1848 through 1862, William Calcott Knell exhibited his work at the distinguished Royal Academy, the British Institution, and the Society of British Arts. His style at this time also grew freer in technique; his brushstrokes became more languid and his seas more transparent. Critics today appreciate his work for its deftness in capturing the changing ambiances of the day through subtle use of color.

This canvas pair, attributed to Calcott Knell by Sotheby’s – London, illustrates his expert use of light and color: the painting on the left depicts the departure of fishing boats at dawn while the right reproduces the same boats in the full-colored afternoon. Notice especially the differences in sea and sky. In the seascape at dawn, Calcott Knell limits his palette to a muted yellow green for the waves, a pale pink and blue wash for the morning sky. Even the fishing boats betray softer edges towards the horizon; this piece possesses a golden expressionistic quality. The afternoon seascape in contrast retains a more colorful range in palette: the waves are a richer blue green, the fishing boats darker and more distinct against a bluer sky. The sailboat to the left foreground, apparently replicated from the dawn seascape at a different angle, suggest that Calcott Knell painted both works from perhaps the same shoreline. Seemingly the same taller fishing craft with unfurled sails can additionally be marked in the backgrounds of each.

Considering the obvious parallels in subjects, this pair of nineteenth-century oil on canvas paintings may be best appreciated from the same home library or office, and perhaps also in complement to Calcott Knell’s father’s and brother’s work. An oil on canvas entitled “The Storm” by William Adolphus Knell and a signed oil on board painting by Adolphus Knell are also available for sale.

Dimensions with each frame: H= 16 in., W= 28 in., D=2 in. , 5 lbs. each
Dimensions of each canvas only: H= 12.25 in. W= 24.25 in.

Additional information

Weight 5 lbs
Dimensions L 2 x W 28 x H 16 in
Style / Period


Year / Century

Mid 19th Century

Place of Origin




Additional Dimensions

W: 24.25in
H: 12.25in


When a painting or other work of art is "attributed" to an artist, it means that in the opinion of a knowledgeable nationally or internationally recognized or respected expert on the artist in question, the art is likely to be the work of that artist.

Both paintings have been cleaned.

The canvas of the first painting is in good condition. The frame has wear on the gilt and nicks all around. There is a small chip on the bottom right corner. The canvas of the second painting is also in good condition. The frame has some wear on the gilt. There is a small chip on the top right corner, but nothing too noticeable.

Although we are attempting to provide realistic online images, differences in lighting sources affect the real color contracts of the painting. We will be happy to provide additional images under different lighting sources and further close-up images upon request.

However, we recommend you consider the lighting in your home and how different lighting sources preserve the painting best and can improve the details the artist emphasized. We also recommend you determine the proper angle placement for the painting to avoid casting shadows or reducing glare to obtain the highest level of satisfaction from this artwork.

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