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American Watercolors

Resources on watercolor societies from the 19th and 20th centuries in New York City, Philadelphia, and Boston.


Philadelphia Water Color Club

Formed in 1900, the Philadelphia Water Color Club held its first exhibitions at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) in 1901 and 1903. In 1904, in tandem with a reorganization of PAFA’s annual exhibitions, the club’s show became the core of an annual exhibition of works on paper at PAFA. A new exhibition series was launched, with oil paintings and sculpture appearing in one exhibition, and watercolors, pastels, prints, and drawings of all kinds appearing in the annual “Water Color Exhibition.” The liberal and inclusive spirit of the new show led to enormous exhibitions, although the numbering in the accompanying catalogues is deceptive, as each gallery began with a new number series (100, 200, 300, etc.) that did not always include a full hundred objects. Gathered here are the catalogues from the years 1901 through 1922, paralleling the contemporary series of the two New York watercolor societies. See the analytic chart below for dates and statistics; full membership rosters can be found in the individual catalogues.

Now known as the Philadelphia Water Color Society, the annual exhibition series continues today in different local venues; see the PWCS website. On the early years of the club, see American Watercolor in the Age of Homer and Sargent, pp. 260, 362–64.



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We are grateful to the custodians of the original catalogues for allowing us to include them here: the Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles; Philadelphia Museum of Art; New York Public Library; and Dorothy and Kenneth Woodcock Archives at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.