The Port of Leghorn by Callcott, 1850
The Port of Leghorn by Sir Augustus Wall Callcott, engraved by Joseph Clayton Bentley, 1850.
Livorno (Leghorn in English) is a port city in the Tuscany region of Italy. It lies on the Italian west coast on the Tyrrhenian Sea, which forms part of the Mediterranean. In the 1580's it received the status of porto Franco by Ferdinando I, meaning there was no duty on traded goods. This in conjunction with the Leggi Livornine (laws active1590-1603) promoted economic and population growth as an influx of foreigners migrated to Livorno. Thus, Ferdinando I granted it the status of city in 1606. The cosmopolitan environment of Livorno transformed the city into one of the most important trade ports on the Mediterranean. However, Livorno's status began to wane in the nineteenth century. It faced economic struggles during the Napoleonic Wars and in 1868, upon joining the Kingdom of Italy, Livorno lost its free port status. The city has further declined in importance, since the destruction of many historic sites during World War II. Today it is one of the poorest areas in northern Italy.
Sir Augustus Wall Callcott (1779-1844) was an admired British painter, specializing in landscapes. In 1797, he entered the Royal Academy and began his artistic studies as a portraitist under John Hoppner (1758-1819). However, possessing a preference for landscapes he largely abandoned the former in favor of landscape painting. His oeuvre consists almost entirely of landscapes, however he continued to use figures as important compositional elements in his pieces. Callcott was made an Associate of the Royal Academy in 1806 and was elected a full Royal Academician in 1810. A shift in subject matter can be seen in his art following his trip to Italy, in 1827, with his wife Maria Graham. His landscapes changed from being of local places to foreign scenes in 1830, after he returned to England. Callcott was knighted in 1837 by Queen Victoria.
Joseph Clayton Bentley (1809-1851) was a line-graver. Early in his career he had pursued landscape painting. Bentley moved to London and began to study engraving under Robert Brandard (1805-1862). However, he never fully gave up painting and he exhibited occasionally, from 1833 until his death. Some of his best engravings were done for the Vernon gallery, after artists such as Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788), John Linnell (1792-1882), and Callcott.