American Watercolors: Research Resources from the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Welcome to the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s research portal for the study of American watercolors. Organized in conjunction with the exhibition American Watercolor in the Age of Homer and Sargent and its accompanying catalogue by Kathleen A. Foster (2017), this site makes available supplementary materials with the goal of encouraging additional research on the ninety-three artists represented in the exhibition and the hundreds more who deserve study.

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Winslow Homer (American, 1836 - 1910). Building a Smudge, 1891. 125th Anniversary Acquisition, Gift of Ann R. Stokes. PMA 2002-10-1

General Bibliography on American Watercolor

The selected bibliography that appears in American Watercolor in the Age of Homer and Sargent-including surveys, monographic studies, technical analyses, and museum collections catalogues focusing on American watercolor-can be downloaded here.

Bibliography of Periodical Literature on American Watercolor, c. 1860-1925

Contemporary exhibition reviews and artist studies that appeared in newspapers and illustrated journals in the period of the American watercolor movement were frequently quoted in American Watercolor in the Age of Homer and Sargent and cited in the notes, but were not included in the selected bibliography (see above). These references and many others have been compiled at Zotero.org, which offers free downloadable and easy-to-use software that allows different ways of searching and sorting citations in a variety of formats. Citations range from 1851 to 1927 but are especially rich for the period from 1866 to 1900.

Additions to this bibliography will be made to the Zotero library by the Philadelphia Museum of Art as new sources are discovered. Individual users cannot alter or add entries but are encouraged to suggest additions or make corrections to this collective bibliography by contacting amartinfo@philamuseum.org.

This bibliography has also been downloaded and made accessible here as pdfs in three different formats: (1) chronological order; (2) alphabetical order by publication; (3) alphabetical order by author, if known. These pdfs were created in March 2017 and will be updated periodically.

To assist researchers using this bibliography, an overview of the publication histories of the various periodicals is provided as a pdf, along with information on how to access them online for further research. This information is current as of February 2018.

Catalogues of the Annual Exhibitions of the American Watercolor Society

The founding of the American Watercolor Society (AWS) in December 1866 launched a series of annual exhibitions the following year, initially in conjunction with the winter exhibition of the National Academy of Design (NAD) in New York. Beginning in 1874, when the NAD’s winter exhibitions ceased, the AWS organized their annuals independently, for about twenty-five years at the NAD and then in other locations. The catalogues for these exhibitions have been gathered and made accessible here as a complete run, from the first exhibition in 1867/68 to 1922, when the AWS began to exhibit jointly with the New York Water Color Club. Included below is an analytical chart of the entire run of exhibitions (1867-1922) and a chronology of the AWS and the larger watercolor movement in these years, the latter published as Appendix C in American Watercolor in the Age of Homer and Sargent.

We are grateful to the custodians of the original catalogues for allowing us to include them here: Frick Art Reference Library, New York; Thomas J. Watson Library of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Winterthur Library, Delaware.

Record of the Annual Exhibitions of the American Watercolor Society, 1867/68-1921

A record of the artists participating in the annual exhibitions of the American Watercolor Society, along with the titles of their works-in the tradition of Peter Hastings Falk’s Annual Exhibition Record of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (Madison, CT: Sound View Press, 1989)-has been compiled by Amy Torbert. As of February 2018 this index includes information on the exhibitions of 1867/68 (when the entries for the AWS galleries were merged within the larger roster of exhibitors in the NAD’s winter exhibition) through 1921, when the American Watercolor Society began to show jointly with the New York Water Color Club. Check back for more catalogues to be added to this ongoing project. To suggest additions or corrections, please contact amartinfo@philamuseum.org.

In the spirit of open exchange, our data set is available for download as an Excel spreadsheet. The data is contained in two worksheets (accessible through tabs at the bottom left of the screen). The first set (“Catalogue data”) provides raw data gathered from the exhibition catalogues. This can be sorted by category (such as artist, price, owner, or nationality). The second set (“Addresses”) tracks artists’ addresses given in the exhibition catalogues. This data has been broken down into the smallest components (street number, street, city, county, state, and country) for ease of sorting.

Members of the New York Water Color Society, 1850-55, and the American Watercolor Society, 1866-1922

Two appendixes published in American Watercolor in the Age of Homer and Sargent are available here for download as pdfs.

Appendix A lists the members of the earlier New York Water Color Society (1850-55), which included many artists who later joined the AWS.

Appendix B lists the artists who joined the AWS from 1866 to 1922, embracing the influx of new members elected in 1921 and 1922 as the AWS began to exhibit jointly with the New York Water Color Club. This list expands and corrects the roster for these years that appears in Ralph Fabri, A History of the American Watercolor Society: The First Hundred Years (New York: AWS, 1969), pp. 88-90, drawing from the minutes of the AWS in addition to the exhibition catalogues.

Watercolor Techniques and Materials

The general bibliography includes a number of sources on watercolor techniques and materials, including invaluable analyses by the paper conservators Marjorie Cohn, Kristi Dahm, Antoinette Owen, Marjorie Shelley, and Judith Walsh.

Also made available here as a pdf is paper conservator Rebecca Pollak’s essay “Flash in the Pan: A History of Manufacturing Watercolor Pigments in America,” which appears in American Watercolor in the Age of Homer and Sargent.

For additional technical information on watercolor paintings, see Nancy Ash, Scott Homolka, and Stephanie Lussier, with Rebecca Pollak and Eliza Spaulding, Descriptive Terminology for Works of Art on Paper: Guidelines for the Accurate and Consistent Description of the Materials and Techniques of Drawings, Prints, and Collages, edited by Renée Wolcott (Conservation Department, Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2014). This publication is available as a pdf on the Museum’s website.

Acknowledgments

These resources were gathered by Kathleen A. Foster over the course of many years spent studying American watercolor painting. More recently she was assisted in building and organizing these research tools by many members of the department of American Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, including Emily Leischner and Cynthia Veloric, and fellows at the Center for American Art, including the Barra Foundation Fellows Laura Fravel, Jennifer Stettler Parsons, Naomi Slipp, and Amy Torbert, and summer fellows James Denison, Abby Eron, Ramey Mize, Lauren Palmor, Corey Piper, Melanie Saeck, and Brittany Strupp. Sally Mills, research assistant at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, also helped to build the bibliography and contributed to the roster of the New York Water Color Society. We are grateful to many other staff members at the Philadelphia Museum of Art who helped to organize this site, including Christopher Atkins, Kathleen Krattenmaker, Kristen Regina, Sid Rodriguez, Ariel Schwarz, Richard Sieber, and Karina Wratschko.