Explore the rich history of British watercolors through works in the Cummer Museum’s Permanent Collection, recently given by Mr. and Mrs. Terrell Lee Bebout. Although this medium was viewed initially by many as a pastime for amateurs, British artists of the late 18th century created more advanced watercolors that would ultimately rival oil paintings. The movement became so popular that the Royal Watercolour Society was founded in 1804, creating not only a platform for artists to explore technological advancements but also a strong collector base.
Watercolor as an art form reached its pinnacle of quality and visibility in Victorian England, with works that spanned a variety of subjects – from landscapes and marine scenes to still lifes and biblical themes – while displaying the luminosity of the medium and the skill of the artist’s hand. For this reason, the late 18th and early 19th century is known as the “Golden Age of British Watercolors,” capturing the elegance of everyday life with the fluidity of this delicate and difficult medium.