American Watercolors: Research Resources from the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Announcing an update to the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s watercolor resource website, your portal to research on American artists working on paper in the late nineteenth and early 20th centuries!

The site has been reorganized to align with the PMA’s other library and archive resources, accessed under our PMA LibGuides page. New address:

NEW to the site are MANY new catalogue scans and data sheets: Catalogues of the New York Water Color Society, 1890-1922 (to align with the similar series of the American Watercolor Society, which began to merge exhibitions with the NYWCS in 1921-22) with an alphabetical list of all artists exhibiting during these years; and an analytical chart of the exhibitions, in two formats (including Excel), collating dates, locations, number of entries, and the number of women artists. The NYWCS exhibited many kinds of work on paper, including pastels, charcoal, and illustrations in addition to exhibition watercolors and sketches. Many thanks to our Barra Fellow, Kelsey Gustin, for her production of these research tools.

Catalogues of the Philadelphia Water Color Club, 1901-1922 (to parallel the AWS series), with similar list of artists and analytical chart of the exhibitions as above, also thanks to the work of Kelsey Gustin, who has usefully pinpointed the women artists in these exhibitions. The PWCC shows, organized in tandem with the PAFA “Watercolor Annual,” included all types of work on paper, including pastels and prints.

Catalogues of the Pennsylvania Society of Miniature Painters, 1906-1922 (to parallel the other series), with similar list of artists and analytical chart of the exhibitions, again thanks to Kelsey Gustin. We have not found catalogues for the earliest of the PSMP exhibitions (1902-1905)—if you find them, let us know!

UPDATED is our new version of the American Watercolor Society resources from the original edition of the website. Revised and expanded is our cumulative record of the AWS exhibitions from 1867 to 1922, in versions organized by artist and owner, with the addition of artist life dates and addresses, if known, and the expansion of many names previously known only in initials. The research of Amy Torbert, who compiled the original exhibition lists and analytical chart, has revealed 59 women artists previously masked by initials. This new cohort has significantly changed our sense of the percentage of women exhibiting with the AWS. A huge thanks to Amy for her persistence and resourcefulness in adding these women to art history AS BEFORE, the website includes bibliography from American Watercolor in the Age of Homer and Sargent (2017), periodical literature from 1851-1927 NOT included in that book, and a useful guide to 19th-20th-century periodicals on line and where to find them! And a link to the comprehensive lexicon for works on paper, compiled by Nancy Ash and an international team of paper conservators.

It takes a village to construct such a guide. These resources were gathered by over the course of many years spent studying American watercolor painting. More recently, I have been 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, Kelsey Gustin, 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. Museum volunteer Jim Hartman helped with scanning and indexing the catalogues of the Pennsylvania Miniature Society. We are also grateful to Hoang Tran, archivist at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, for his assistance with scanning catalogues. 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. We will appreciate corrections or suggestions for additions to this website.