During the late 18th century, the practice and status of watercolour painting developed considerably. One of the main reasons was that travel became easier and artists journeyed to new destinations.
After the Napoleonic wars, Britain’s growing commercial prosperity produced new classes of tourist – businessmen, professionals, writers – who were fascinated by the life and colour of contemporary foreign scenes.
Another fact which contributed to the development of watercolour painting was the introduction of steel engraving to Britain from 1820. This development meant that larger numbers of less expensive prints, based on watercolours, could be published.
18th century British watercolour painters were inspired by the landscapes of Spain, Corsica & France. The combined circumstances of difficult foreign travel & photography not yet available, meant that images of these locations were coveted for the light they shone on inaccessible places.
By Chryssa Siakka, Gallery Steward