British Watercolours 1760–1900
The Age of Splendour

Free entry

NGV International

Prints & Drawings, Level 3

14 Oct 11 – 19 Feb 12

This exhibition, drawn entirely from the NGV Collection, traces the revolution in British watercolours from the late eighteenth century to the end of the Victorian era. In this period the delicate, tinted drawing of the topographical draughtsman was transformed into a powerful and expressive art form by some of the Romantic and Victorian era’s greatest artists. Watercolour was pivotal to the changing attitudes to landscape at this time and witnessed a shift in emphasis from the recording of the observed world to the expression of the artist’s personal response to nature. The exhibition also reveals the increased ambition of watercolourists in the later 19th century whose ’exhibition watercolours‘ competed with oil paintings in terms of size, brilliance of colour and effect and range of subject matter.

The exhibition presents major works from the Gallery’s collection that exemplify these developments by artists including Paul Sandby, Thomas Gainsborough, John Robert Cozens, J.M.W. Turner, Thomas Girtin, John Sell Cotman, David Cox, Peter de Wint, William Blake, Richard Parkes Bonington, Samuel Palmer, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Ford Madox Brown and Edward Burne-Jones, amongst others.

Download the exhibition checklist

Key Works