Skip to main content
Select Source:

watercolor painting

watercolor painting, in its wider sense, refers to all pigments mixed with water rather than with oil and also to the paintings produced by this process; it includes fresco and tempera as well as aquarelle, the process now commonly meant by the generic term. Gouache and distemper are also watercolors, although they are prepared with a more gluey base than the other forms. Long before oil was used in the preparation of pigment, watercolor painting had achieved a high form of sophistication. The oldest existing paintings, found in Egypt, are watercolors. The Persian artist Bihzad (15th cent.) produced exquisite miniatures of great complexity. Gouache was employed by Byzantine and Romanesque artists. In the Middle Ages, illuminated manuscripts on vellum used watercolor to produce their flat, brilliant effects. In this same manner watercolors were used during and after the Renaissance by such artists as Dürer, Rembrandt, Rubens, and Van Dyck to tint and shade drawings and woodcuts. Dürer in particular colored landscape drawings in a manner not unlike the modern method.

In the 18th cent. the modern aquarelle grew from the simple wash coloring of a drawing into a technique of complete painting. This technique became particularly popular in England, where its greatest masters were Constable and J. M. W. Turner. Rowlandson, Cozens, Girtin, Bonington, Cotman, and John and Paul Nash were also celebrated for their use of the technique. Many 19th-century painters also used watercolor extensively, mostly for landscape paintings and sometimes for portraits, but it was no longer commonly used for miniatures. The French artists Daumier, Delacroix, and Géricault, and later, Cézanne, Signac, and Dufy, employed aquarelle to a large extent, for both preliminary sketches and finished works. The American John Singer Sargent became well known for his aquarelles. Other painters in the United States, including Homer, Whistler, Prendergast, Marin, and Sheeler, painted noteworthy watercolors.

The advantages of watercolor lie in the ease and quickness of its application, in the transparent effects achievable, in the brilliance of its colors, and in its relative cheapness. Aquarelles have a delicacy difficult to achieve in oil and are equally flexible, lending themselves to immediate expression of a visual experience. Their handling demands considerable skill as overpainting of flaws is usually impossible. Watercolor was traditionally a comparatively perishable medium, vulnerable to sunlight, dust, and contact with glass surfaces, but the use of modern pigments has made it much more stable.

See G. Reynolds, A Concise History of Water Colors (1971, repr. 1986); C. Fince, Twentieth Century Watercolors (1988).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"watercolor painting." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"watercolor painting." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 17, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/watercolor-painting

"watercolor painting." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved August 17, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/watercolor-painting

watercolor

wa·ter·col·or / ˈwôtərˌkələr; ˈwä-/ • n. (also watercolors) artists' paint made with a water-soluble binder such as gum arabic, and thinned with water rather than oil, giving a transparent color. ∎  a picture painted with watercolors. ∎  the art of painting with watercolors, esp. using a technique of producing paler colors by diluting rather than by adding white. DERIVATIVES: wa·ter·col·or·ist n.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"watercolor." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"watercolor." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 17, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/watercolor-0

"watercolor." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved August 17, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/watercolor-0

gouache

gouache / gwäsh; goōˈäsh/ • n. a method of painting using opaque pigments ground in water and thickened with a gluelike substance. ∎  paint of this kind; opaque watercolor. ∎  a picture painted in this way.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"gouache." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"gouache." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 17, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/gouache-0

"gouache." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved August 17, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/gouache-0

aquarelle

aquarelle(Fr.). Water-colour; sometimes musically applied to a piece of delicate texture, as in Eric Fenby's arr. for str. (1938), as Aquarelles, of Delius's 2 wordless chs. ‘To be sung of a summer night on the water’ (1917).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"aquarelle." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"aquarelle." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 17, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/arts/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/aquarelle

"aquarelle." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music. . Retrieved August 17, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/arts/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/aquarelle

gouache

gouache Watercolour paint made opaque by the addition of white. It lightens in colour when dry and cracks if used thickly. Popular among manuscript illuminators in the Middle Ages, gouache has been used by 20th-century artists.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"gouache." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"gouache." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 17, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/gouache

"gouache." World Encyclopedia. . Retrieved August 17, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/gouache

watercolour

watercolour Paint that is made from a pigment ground up with a water-soluble gum, such as gum arabic, and also a painting that is rendered in this medium.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"watercolour." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"watercolour." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 17, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/watercolour

"watercolour." World Encyclopedia. . Retrieved August 17, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/watercolour

aquarelle

aquarelle XIX. — F. — It. acquerella watercolour, f. acqua :- L. aqua water.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"aquarelle." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"aquarelle." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 17, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/aquarelle-0

"aquarelle." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Retrieved August 17, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/aquarelle-0

gouache

gouache water-colour painting with opaque colours. XIX. — F. — It. guazzo.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"gouache." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"gouache." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 17, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/gouache-1

"gouache." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Retrieved August 17, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/gouache-1

aquarelle

aquarelle (ăk´wərĕl´): see watercolor painting.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"aquarelle." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"aquarelle." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 17, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/aquarelle

"aquarelle." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved August 17, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/aquarelle

gouache

gouache (gwäsh): see watercolor painting.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"gouache." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"gouache." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 17, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/gouache

"gouache." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved August 17, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/gouache

aquarelle

aquarelleAdele, Aix-la-Chapelle, aquarelle, artel, au naturel, bagatelle, béchamel, befell, bell, belle, boatel, Brunel, Cadell, carousel, cartel, cell, Chanel, chanterelle, clientele, Clonmel, compel, Cornell, crime passionnel, dell, demoiselle, dispel, dwell, el, ell, Estelle, excel, expel, farewell, fell, Fidel, fontanelle, foretell, Gabrielle, gazelle, gel, Giselle, hell, hotel, impel, knell, lapel, mademoiselle, maître d'hôtel, Manuel, marcel, matériel, mesdemoiselles, Michel, Michelle, Miguel, misspell, morel, moschatel, Moselle, motel, muscatel, nacelle, Nell, Nobel, Noel, organelle, outsell, Parnell, pell-mell, personnel, propel, quell, quenelle, rappel, Raquel, Ravel, rebel, repel, Rochelle, Sahel, sardelle, sell, shell, show-and-tell, smell, Snell, spell, spinel, swell, tell, undersell, vielle, villanelle, well, yell •Buñuel • Pachelbel • handbell •barbell • harebell • decibel • doorbell •cowbell • bluebell • Annabel •mirabelle • Christabel • Jezebel •Isabel, Isobel •nutshell • infidel • asphodel •zinfandel • Grenfell • Hillel • parallel •Cozumel • caramel • Fresnel •pimpernel • pipistrelle • Tricel •filoselle

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"aquarelle." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"aquarelle." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 17, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/aquarelle

"aquarelle." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Retrieved August 17, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/aquarelle

gouache

gouachedémarche, gouache, harsh, marsh, moustache (US mustache) •Saltmarsh

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"gouache." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"gouache." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 17, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/gouache

"gouache." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Retrieved August 17, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/gouache

watercolor

watercolorcolour (US color), cruller, culler, medulla, mullah, Muller, nullah, sculler, Sulla •doubler, troubler •bumbler, grumbler, stumbler, tumbler •bundler • muffler • juggler • bungler •suckler • coupler •hustler, rustler •butler, cutler •puzzler • swashbuckler • technicolor •multicolour (US multicolor) •watercolour (US watercolor)

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"watercolor." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"watercolor." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 17, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/watercolor

"watercolor." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Retrieved August 17, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/watercolor

watercolour

watercolourcolour (US color), cruller, culler, medulla, mullah, Muller, nullah, sculler, Sulla •doubler, troubler •bumbler, grumbler, stumbler, tumbler •bundler • muffler • juggler • bungler •suckler • coupler •hustler, rustler •butler, cutler •puzzler • swashbuckler • technicolor •multicolour (US multicolor) •watercolour (US watercolor)

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"watercolour." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"watercolour." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 17, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/watercolour

"watercolour." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Retrieved August 17, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/watercolour