Prior to the arrival of the mass-produced camera in 1900, watercolour was the medium we used to record the world we encountered. The Watercolour World’s mission is to collect together all these documentary works – from private and public collections from across the globe – into a free, geolocated online database, for the whole World to see.

Volunteer with us

TWW would not exist without volunteers. They help us to scan, catalogue and upload thousands of images to the website each year.

Share your watercolours

The pre-photographic history of the world is hidden in the attics and albums of homes around the world. Add your piece of the puzzle.


The Watercolour World is for Everyone and we believe it can serve as an invaluable education resource for a number of subjects, across all ages.
Content for this section is in preparation. We very much welcome suggestions for teacher packs from the teaching profession. Please contact us if you would like to contribute.


Australia as drawn by convicts

Approximately 165,000 convicts were transported to Australia over an 80-year period from 1788 to 1868. Many brought with them skills and … Read more

Around the world with Robert Elwes

When Robert Elwes (1819-1878) published his work “A Sketcher’s Tour Round the World” in 1854 it was welcomed by the … Read more

The woman who transformed scientific illustration

In 1699, when she was in her early 50s, the naturalist Maria Sibylla Merian left her home in Amsterdam and set sail … Read more


We’ve recently added several hundred new paintings to our website from collections including Royal Irish Academy and The Alpine Club.


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