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Un-staged, Realistic Watercolor Pictures of the Old World

 Most of the old oil paint paintings we see today took a long time to create. They are meticulously staged, and many seem stiff. Watercolors, on the other hand, are characterized with a much more of a free feel to them, with gentle and swift brush strokes. One might wonder, then, why museums aren't filled with them, and that's because they aren't as durable as oil paintings that last centuries. 

View in the Serampore Road, Kolkata, India. 1848.

Around the 18th century, painters started favoring watercolors over oil paintings as they were (and still are) easily portable. They are a fast medium, allowing for quick sketches and paintings. The transparency of the pigment offers the painter an opportunity to build up the depth of the paintings. This is a great method to vividly convey the light, the temperature, and the atmosphere of the outdoors. 

Rock-cut tombs, Beni Hasan, Egypt. Undated

However, as mentioned before, the pigment in watercolor is not as vivid nor as opaque as oil paintings. It is highly sensitive to both light and humidity. Watercolor paintings are also done almost exclusively on paper and not on sturdy canvas fabric, like oil paintings. And that is why a watercolor painting from the 18th century or before, is a fragile historic document.

View of a glacier between high mountains covered with clouds;
shepherd with goats in the foreground. Circa 1825-35

Most of the watercolor paintings are safely stored in archives and boxes, away from the destructive elements but also away from the public's eye and from fame. The watercolor world is a free digital database of watercolor paintings from before the 1900s. Its aim is to bring the beauty of watercolor paintings to the public. Most of these paintings are realistic, portraying everyday life, much like photographs do.

Battle of Bailén, 16th-19th July 1808. circa 1895.

Allahabad, from the Right Bank of the Jumna, India. 1865

Harbour Street, Kingston. c.1821

The Thames at Cold Harbour, Blackwall. 1896

Lambeth Fair, Fore Street, Lambeth. c.1850

Grinding sugar cane in a windmill, Antigua. 1823.

Rough Shooting in Windsor Great Park. 19th century

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