The Boston Water-Color Society was organized in 1885 by Childe Hassam, a principal of both the American Watercolor Society and the New York Water Color Club, and his friend Ross Turner, together with another dozen mostly Boston-based artists. The society’s exhibitions, begun that same year, were generally small, usually including the work of no more than twenty artists, all members and, until 1918, all men. The first exhibitions were held at the Williams & Everett Galleries, and from 1899 took place at the Boston Art Club (see analytical chart).
In 1892 the society renamed itself the Boston Society of Water Color Painters, probably to distinguish itself from the women’s group, the Boston Water Color Club, as the two groups were perpetually confused in the press. Following the pattern of the rival New York clubs, the two groups began to exhibit together in 1939 and eventually merged. In 1960 the name reverted to the Boston Watercolor Society, and in 1980 became the New England Watercolor Society, the name still used today.