The Royal Watercolour Society (originally called the Society of Painters in Water Colours, briefly the Society of Painters in Oil and Watercolours, and for much of its existence the Royal Society of Painters in Water Colours) is an English institution of painters working in watercolours. It should not be confused with the separate organisation, the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours (RI).
The society was founded as the Society of Painters in Water Colours (sometimes referred to as the Old Water Colour Society) in 1804 by William Frederick Wells and its original membership was: William Sawrey Gilpin, Robert Hills, John Claude Nattes, John Varley, Cornelius Varley, Francis Nicholson, Samuel Shelley, William Henry Pyne and Nicholas Pocock. The members seceded from the Royal Academy (RA) where they felt that their work commanded insufficient respect and attention.
In 1812, the Society reformed as the Society of Painters in Oil and Watercolours, reverting to its original name in 1820. The Society obtained its Royal charter 1881 under the presidency of Sir John Gilbert as the Royal Society of Painters in Water Colours. In 1988, it changed its name again to the Royal Watercolour Society, by which it had always previously been generally known.
It is a separate organisation from the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours.