American watercolours in Philadelphia

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John Biglin in a Single Scull (1873), Thomas Eakins

This spring the Philadelphia Museum of Art will turn its attention to how watercolour as a medium took off in the USA in the years following The American Civil War.

The exhibition explains how the catalyst for this surge in interest was the creation of the American Watercolor Society in 1866, whose annual exhibitions became a magnet for talented artists from around the country.

By the early 1880s, every corner of the American art world was represented in the society’s galleries: avant-garde painters returning from Europe, the old guard learning new tricks, illustrators looking for status and female artists hopeful of recognition.

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Diamond Shoal (1905), Winslow Homer

Watercolour stars

Bringing together a glorious collection of works, the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s show will focus on the men and women whose careers took flight on the back of watercolour; people such as Winslow Homer, John Singer Sargent, John La Farge, Thomas Moran and William Trost Richards.

The exhibition also considers the works of a following generation, including men such as Charles Demuth and Edward Hopper, who helped confirm watercolour as a distinctive ‘American’ medium and made it part of their own legacy.

American Watercolor in the Age of Homer and Sargent opens on 1 March.

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A Garden in Nassau (1885)



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