5 facts about watercolours

We love watercolours!  And how about you? Here are 5 interesting facts about watercolours!

1. Watercolours were first created in…China! They appeared in China shortly after paper was invented. Watercolours soon became popular in Japan as well. They have remained popular in these countries ever since. Watercolours were painted on silk, wood and other materials.

Watercolour painting by Liu Yunsheng

2. In Europe, watercolours did not appear until the 13th century, later than other kinds of painting. The technique developed extremely quickly, however, and by the 16th century, watercolours were as popular as oil paintings.  It is generally thought that the precursors of watercolour paintings in Europe were the frescos that were painted on wet plaster.

Old Holland Classic Watercolours

3. One of the most famous watercolours in the world is Young Hare (1502), by the famous Renaissance artist Albrecht Dürer. This masterly painter made a very significant contribution to the development of watercolours in the West.

Young Hare by Albrecht Dürer

4. The masters of the watercolour technique did not always strive for lightness and a certain ‘diffuseness’ when working with watercolours. Right up until the 18th century, the drawing in of every last detail, particularly those in the foreground, was a convention that it was not customary to depart from. In the late 19th century, two remarkable British artists, Thomas Girtin and Joseph Turner, decided to destroy this idea about art. They departed from actively drawing in the foreground when working with watercolours. Their paintings contains the kind of lightness and transparency in watercolour paintings that we still strive to achieve today.

The White House at Chelsea 1800 by Thomas Girtin 1775-1802

5. One of the ingredients of the traditional old watercolour recipes is honey! It is the honey that makes the watercolours soft and allows them to stay in a semi-liquid form for long enough.

A little watercolour bee