A potted history of The Potteries

Within an area of just over 20 square miles in North Staffordshire, the six towns of Burslem, Fenton, Hanley, Longton, Stoke-upon-Trent and Tunstall – collectively known as ‘The Potteries’ – … Read more

The world of watercolour

Introducing an exhibition at the British Library in 1987, the curator wrote: ‘If the camera had been invented by the Venerable Bede in the year 700, few of the pictures … Read more

Sailing on the Sobraon

Imagine a sailing ship with masts nearly 200 feet high. A ship made of wood and iron. A ship that could spread two acres of sail. That’s about the size … Read more

Ruskin’s warning to the industrial world

Two Figures in a Storm: they bend a little into the wind, almost overwhelmed by the chaos of watery blue around them. But the figures, painted by J. M. W. … 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 for Suriname in search of insects. The 7,500km voyage would … Read more

Women workers of the maritime world

The theme for World Maritime Day 2019 (26 September) is ‘Empowering Women in the Maritime Community’. A look through the maritime-themed watercolours on our website reveals a telling shortage of paintings … Read more

Egyptology and expansionism in 19th-century Belgium

In 1855, Bernard Fiedler accompanied the Belgian king Leopold II on a trip to Egypt and the eastern Mediterranean. The party passed the ancient temple of Kom Ombo on the … Read more

The Indian artists who worked with the west

There are over 1,500 watercolour paintings and drawings on The Watercolour World website attributed to the ‘Company School’ and recording aspects of Indian life. They include studies of plants and animals, pictures … Read more

The cathedral of Notre-Dame

On 15 April 2019 a fire ripped through the cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris causing the collapse of its spire and roof and significant damage to its stonework, decoration and … Read more

Repainting a pharaoh’s tomb

Giovanni Belzoni and Alessandro Ricci’s watercolours of the tomb of Seti I are all we have to support Belzoni’s claims of the beauty and freshness of the pharaoh’s tomb in … Read more

Fairground Rides

The people of centuries gone by knew how to let their hair down at the fairground just as we do today – only with fewer health and safety regulations. Roller … Read more

Cricket through the ages

It’s not clear exactly how long cricket has been around. In the British Isles, early versions of the game were probably played as far back as the Saxon and Norman … Read more

The best of the Broomhall House Collection

Broomhall House sits at the heart of Scottish history as the family home of the descendants of 14th-century king and warrior statesman, Robert the Bruce. Over the centuries, his descendants … Read more

Mount Vesuvius

Mount Vesuvius is the only volcano on the European mainland to have erupted in recent centuries. Close to the city of Naples in Italy, and relatively easy for travellers to … Read more

An eye witness account of the war in Crimea, 1853-1856

In the 1850s, the balance of power in eastern Europe was shifting. The Ottoman Empire was in decline and Russia, seeing an opportunity to extend its power, was on the … 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 critics as “combining the best qualities of a library volume … Read more

The Bristol riots of 1831

In October 1831, major riots broke out in Bristol after the House of Lords rejected a Reform Bill which was intended to extend voting rights to more men in England … Read more

How watercolour shaped the British coastline

Professor Robin McInnes, a geologist, coastal scientist and art historian, explains how watercolours provide important insights into the state of the coast before photography. The idea of using historical works … Read more

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 talents which enriched the life and economy of the new colony. … Read more

How windmills shaped the world

With the climate crisis accelerating, the importance of developing renewable energy sources to replace fossil fuels is increasingly apparent. Of the various options currently available one of the most widespread … Read more

Cowes and the Royal Yacht Squadron

The Cowes Week sailing regatta is the largest event of its kind and one of the longest running. The first one took place back in 1826 when the Royal Yacht … Read more


Travellers to the Alps have always been fascinated by glaciers. These vast rivers of ice, with their mysterious quality of being both solid and fluid, inspire awe and wonder. Early … Read more

Watercolour records show species before they were endangered

As the dangers of climate change become increasingly apparent, more and more people are reflecting on the impact that we have on the world around us. Human activity has disrupted the … Read more

The Fox Talbots of Lacock Abbey

The Fox Talbot collection of family watercolours at Lacock Abbey encapsulates the purpose of The Watercolour World project. While Henry Fox Talbot was developing photography, his family continued to record the world … Read more