RWS

Royal Society of Painters in Water Colours

In the early part of the present century, when water-color painting began to attract popular attention in Great Britain, a number of professional artists who had devoted themselves more particularly to that branch of their art determined to form an association for its proper recognition and their own mutual protection and improvement. The result was the Royal Society of Painters in Water Colours, organized in 1804. It would appear that at that time water-color sketches and drawings were not admitted, or, if received at all, were treated with scant courtesy by the Royal Academy, and the main object of the new organization was to insure an annual exhibition in London, where the works of this still unpopular school of painting might be introduced to the public and make themselves felt. The first exhibition was held in Lower Brooke Street in 1805. For some years, while the Society was struggling for the recognition it did not at first receive, the members met in each other's houses and studios by turn, where they presented studies and sketches, which were usually left with the host of the night. The prejudice against watercolours was so strong, however, that the Society was forced to admit pictures in oil, and in 1813 it was known as the Society of Painters in Oil and Water Colours. But in 1821 the old name was resumed and only works in watercolours and by members of the Society were received at its exhibitions. Since that time it has been gaining in strength and prosperity, and is now to watercolour art in Great Britain what the Royal Academy is to Fine Arts in general. Its President, like that of the Royal Academy, is knighted upon election.
The annual exhibitions of this Society were first held in Spring Gardens; in 1821 they were removed to Egyptian Hall, Piccadilly.
In 1831 dissatisfied members founded The Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours RI. (Compiled late 1800's)