Boat Building on the Teign | Samuel Lucas | image credit Yale Center for British Art | Licence: Public Domain

From our founder

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A legacy forgotten but not lost

A vast heritage of documentary images, a long-unseen gift to us from our 18th- and 19th-century forbears, exists in the global watercolour collection.

Created in colour by professionals as well as amateurs, for all its unevenness this record is an astonishingly well-observed reflection of all our pasts, all human activity and achievement.

The Watercolour World, a UK registered charity, brings together, on a single website, public and private documentary watercolour collections from around the world. It is a profoundly important advance in our visual access to the past.

To scientists and environmentalists trying to understand a world at risk from climate change, rising sea levels, coastal erosion and worse, The Watercolour World provides an accurate and dated visual account of how the natural world used to be.

To conservationists and historians, it will provide the evidence to conserve and rebuild structures, to find lost places and to see the roots of human progress that led us to where we are today.

And to all of us, it will offer an extraordinary journey into lands around us in earlier times, and an encounter with our predecessors to observe how they lived, loved and played.

The world’s collection of watercolours is spread widely across the globe. It is to be found everywhere, in every sort of public collection, as well as in private homes, from palaces to cottages. All these watercolours are of importance and real value to The Watercolour World project. If you can connect us with any watercolour collections, please do so.

Into the unknown

Not all images are easy to locate. Can you help? If you spot somewhere you recognise, tell us in the comments