In April 1805 the newly created Society of Painters in Water Colours now known as the Royal Watercolour Society held its first exhibition.
After the Royal Academy, the RWS is the oldest artists' exhibiting society in Britain.
Its early years saw the rise to prominence of watercolour painting - a golden age of British art and a medium in which Britain produced artists of remarkable genius.
This book celebrates the Society's bicentenary by bringing together the work of its founders, Joshua Cristall, John Varley, W.S.
Gilpin, W.H. Pyne and W.F. Wells. It also surveys the period from 1800 to 1851 in considerable detail and illustrates the work of the major watercolourists of the time - Thomas Girtin, J.M.
Turner, Francis Towne, Peter de Wint, A.V. Copley Fielding, John Linnell, John Sell Cotman and many others.
The journey of British watercolour painting from topographical and picturesque views to the challenging, highly coloured virtuoso works of the mid nineteenth century is one of the roller-coaster rides of British art history.
To celebrate the Royal Society of Watercolours is to celebrate the best of this explosion of talent. The book accompanies an exhibition at Dulwich Picture Gallery from 2 February 2005 to 24 April 2005 and subsequently at the Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester.