What is the Watercolour World?

The Watercolour World (TWW) is a registered charity that is creating a digital database of all pre-1900 documentary watercolours in the western tradition. Our brochure has full details of the project and how you can get involved.

What will I find on the website? 

You’ll find a huge variety of pictures here, including landscapes, seascapes, buildings, animals, plants, ordinary people and historical events. We also include some designs, satirical images and ‘genre scenes’ (which are typical pictures of everyday life). Images in other media, such as hand-coloured prints or pen and ink drawings, may be included if they are of exceptional documentary value or relate closely to watercolours on the website.  

All the images on TWW are deemed to have some documentary value, by which we mean that they show us something of the world as the artist witnessed it.

Is there a printed version? 

No, this is an online-only project.

Who owns the images on the website? 

The original artworks are held in public and private collections around the world – many of which are open to the public. The digital images on this website have been released to TWW under a variety of licences which determine how they can be published and used (see below). TWW owns none of the images on the website.

Can I see the paintings in real life? 

Watercolours, prints and drawings are often too fragile to keep on public display. Furthermore, many of the images on our website are provided by private collectors who wish to remain anonymous. If you have compelling reasons to want to see a work in person, we suggest you contact the owning collection before planning a visit. If you want to enquire about a painting in a private collection, please contact us in case we can assist.

Can I contact the owner of a painting?

Private collectors who have chosen to remain anonymous cannot be contacted directly. Please contact us if you wish to enquire about a painting in a private collection. We will pass on your enquiry but cannot guarantee that you will receive a response from them. 

You can contact a public collection by following the link to their website and contacting them directly.

May I use the images elsewhere? 

Whether and how you may use an image depends on the licence under which it has been released to the public and/or TWW. Some collections allow you to use their images freely. Others have agreed for their images to be published with ‘All Rights Reserved’, which means you shouldn’t reuse them in any form.  

There are also various types of licences in between. The licence is clearly specified on each painting page and you can find out what it means by clicking on the licence link. If you have any doubts about whether you can use an image, you should contact the collection that is listed in the credits as the source of the image.

Who supplies the information on this website?

The information on the painting pages is provided partly by the owning collection, and partly by TWW. Broadly speaking, the collections provide the titles, dates, and artist information for a painting, while TWW adds tags, categories and location details. Other editorial content is produced by TWW and our contributors.

How reliable is the information on this website?

We make every effort to publish reliable data. We cannot, however, guarantee that all information on this website is complete, up to date, or accurate. If you are using this website for research purposes, please refer to the owning collection’s records as your main source of information. Please see our disclaimers for more information.

I’ve spotted an error; what do I do?

We welcome your feedback, particularly on information generated by TWW. If you spot an error on a painting page, please let us know via our contact us page. Please provide the relevant URL at the top of your message.

We try to review all comments and feedback, but as a small charity it may take us some time  to respond to your message directly, or to acknowledge all feedback. Please also note that we will not make changes directly to the information provided by contributing collections without their express permission.

Can I get involved in the project?

Absolutely. There are several ways to get involved, from volunteering to submitting information about our images or working with us to digitise your collection. To find out more about how to get involved, visit our volunteer with us, share your watercolours, or contact us pages.

Can I contribute images? 

Absolutely. You can submit images and accompanying information for consideration via our share your watercolours page. If you have a large collection, or need help digitising your watercolours, you may prefer to contact us via email with further details.

How can I use the search successfully and what can I search for?

Our search page lets you filter images by geography, category, collection, artist, date range, keywords and more. For advice on how to make the most of this powerful tool, read our search tips.

Why can’t I zoom in on every image?

In some cases, the resolution of an image is insufficient to allow zoom. In others, the owning collection has requested that their images are not zoomable. If you think an image on the website is displaying incorrectly, please contact us. If you want to enquire about higher resolution images, you will need to contact the owning collection.

Do I have to be an art historian to use this website?

Absolutely not. While we do publish some art-historical information about the images, we try to keep it simple. We have compiled a short glossary to help clarify the more specialist terms you may come across on the website. If you are confused by anything, please feel free to contact us.

Are any of these paintings for sale? 

Not via TWW. Some art dealers have contributed images to the project, but TWW itself is not a commercial enterprise and none of the artworks or digital images are for sale via this website.

Does TWW provide provenance information or valuations?

No. Our objective as a charity is simply to provide digital access to images: we do not offer any services beyond our limited digitisation programme.

Who funds TWW?

The Watercolour World is funded by the Marandi Foundation, which supports children’s health and education, cultural history and art.

Can I donate to TWW? 

We welcome monetary donations. If you wish to make a donation, please contact [email protected]

Do you have a question that is not answered above? Feel free to contact us.