1804 - ?

The origins of the Royal Watercolour Society can be traced back to the formation of the Society of Painters in Water Colours in 1804. On 30 November 1804 the first meeting of ‘The Society Associated for the purpose of Establishing an Annual Exhibition of Paintings in Water Colours’ was held at The Stratford Coffee House on Oxford Street, London. Founder Members included Samuel Shelley, William Frederick Wells, William Sawrey Gilpin, Ramsay Richard Reinagle and brothers, John and Cornelius Varley. The exclusive nature of its constitution, under which its walls were reserved entirely for Members and Associates, left room for another exhibition, still confined to watercolour drawings, but on a more enlarged plan, and open to all members of the profession. It was thought that a society formed on a more comprehensive scale should be formed and a meeting was held on 24 June 1807 at the Thatched House Tavern with William Wood occupying the Chair with a list of names drawn up as the first members of a new association. The members were William James Bennett (1787−1844), Henry Pierce Bone (1779-1855), James Green (1771–1834), Jean Francois Marie Huet-Villiers (1772-1813), John Laporte (1761–1839), Andrew Robertson (1777–1845), William John Thompson (1771–1845), William Walker, jun., Walter Henry Watts (1776–1842), Hugh William Williams (1773–1829), and William Wood. At a subsequent meeting it assumed the same title 'The Society of Painters in Water-Colours' which adds to the confusion existing between the two Societies, but the name was changed to 'The New Society of Painters in Miniature and Water-Colours' and then on 14 January 1808 when they adopted the name 'Associated Artists in Water Colours'. Further confusion was added when 'Associated Artists' when they held their first exhibition at the same place as the original Society at Tresham's Rooms at 20 Lower Brook Street on 25 April 1808: - (Yale Center for British Art)
'Catalogue of the first exhibition / by the Associated Artists in Water Colours; open from nine until dusk at 20, Lower Brook Street, Grosvenor Square.
London: Printed by J. Moyes, Shoe Lane, Fleet Street, 1808.'
William Wood was President, Andrew Robertson, Secretary with other members Alfred Chalon (1780-1860), Mrs. Green, Samuel Owen (1768–1857), John Buonarotti Papworth (1775–1847), Miss Emma Smith (1783–1853), William Westall (1781-1850) and Andrew Wilson (1780–1848) and there were a further eighteen exhibitors including Thomas Baxter (1782–1821), Richard Dagley (c.1761–1841), Peter De Wint, François Louis Thomas Francia (1772–1839), James Holmes (1777–1860), Frederick Nash (1782–1856), John Christian Schetky (1778–1874) and Joseph Clarendon Smith (1778–1810). To add to confusions William James Bennett, Peter De Wint, James Holmes, Frederick Nash, William Walker, jun. and William Westall were also members or Associates of the original Society of Painters in Water Colours and Hugh William Williams was an unsuccessful candidate in 1807. However, the original Society was making progress through moving exhibitions from place to place with the number of paid admissions in 1808 was just short of 19,000. In 1823 the Society was offered a lease at 6 Pall Mall East and remained there until 1938 when the lease expired but returned in 2020 when they signed a new lease. In 1881 Queen Victoria granted the Society a Royal Charter, and agreed to sign the certificates that each RWS Member receives on election to the Society. The certificates have continued to be signed by the Monarch up until the death of Queen Elizabeth II in 2022. Today, the RWS is an artist-led society made up of an elected Membership who are amongst the finest practitioners in contemporary water-based painting. Artists work in a variety of water media including gouache, acrylic, pen & ink, pigment, collage, mixed media as well as traditional watercolour. The aim of the Society is to promote, by example and education, the understanding, appreciation, and enjoyment of these exciting media.
see also Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours

Works by This Artist