National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) Presents British Watercolours Exhibition

The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) presents British Watercolours 1760–1900. The Age of Splendour on view 14 OCT 2011 – 19 FEB 2012.


Samuel Palmer, The Golden City: Rome from the Janiculum 1873 watercolour and gouache with pencil, black chalk and gum arabic 51.4 x 71.0 cm (sheet) Lister 668, Lister 668 Presented by members of the Varley Family, 1927

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, Edward Burne-Jones and Edward Lear, amongst others.

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