The collection of watercolours currently on display at the Fitzwilliam Museum is one of the finest in the world, housing a large number of rarely exhibited and incredibly well preserved paintings.
Having opened on 16 June (it runs until September), art lovers will appreciate this fine celebration of the versatility of watercolour, which is shown throughout the exhibition, as well as the exploration of how the technique can uniquely capture the elemental forces of nature.
These beautiful paintings will certainly leave you awestruck, as well as offering a once-in-a-lifetime glimpse into the minds and imaginations of these great artists. The exhibition includes work from the likes of Nicholas Hilliard and Isaac Oliver, flower drawings by Pierre-Joseph Redoute as well as a series of stunning landscape watercolour by a number of celebrated artists such as John Constable and Peter de Wint.
The intimacy, luminosity and delicacy of watercolour has long been valued, achieving popularity in 16th century for the creation of portrait miniatures and botanical drawings. This appreciation for the art of watercolour continued through to the mid 19th century, where styles for landscapes changed from broad washy strokes to amazing precision, and was then adopted by the Romantic movement to capture the rapid and changing effects of the elements.
Artist including J. M. W. Turner and Cotman were focused on the ever-changing ideas of nature; Turner being absorbed in capturing the play of light on water in Venice, and Cotman on landscapes that continue to fascinate the modern audience. Although this style may appear easy to any onlooker, it requires a certain amount of patience and practiced handling of the loaded brush.
Despite this, since the 16th century, watercolour is an art form continuously recommended to those who are perhaps just starting out in the world of a more professional side to art.
Director of the Fitzwilliam Museum, Tim Knox, says: “This will be an utterly ravishing exhibition, for the Fitzwilliam Museum can show the grand sweep of watercolour painting that few other museums can rival. From the bejewelled minatures of Nicholas Hilliard and Isaac Oliver, through masterpieces by Turner, Cotman and Girtin, to rapidly executed, virtuoso performances in coloured wash by John Singer Sargent, these watercolours are only rarely shown precisely because they are so delicate and vulnerable to damage from exposure to light.”
Watercolour: Elements of Nature is at the Fitzwilliam Museum until 27 September, entry is free.