Published: June 3, 2008
Spanning more than a century of British artistic production, from the emergence of watercolor painting in the mid-Eighteenth Century to its flowering in the early Nineteenth Century, “Great British Watercolors” brings together more than 80 outstanding works from the Paul Mellon Collection at the Yale Center for British Art (YCBA). Opening June 10, this exhibition highlights the diversity of British watercolor painting, showing both landscapes and figurative works by some of the principal artists who worked in the medium, including Thomas Gainsborough, Paul Sandby, John Robert Cozens, William Blake, Thomas Girtin, J.M.W. Turner and John Constable.
“Great British Watercolors” was organized by the Yale Center for British Art in association with the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, as part of the 2007 celebrations commemorating both the Center’s 13th anniversary and the centenary of its founder, Paul Mellon, one of the greatest cultural philanthropists of the Twentieth Century.
In a period of a little over 15 years in the early 1960s, Mellon assembled one of the world’s greatest collections of British drawings and watercolors. As part of his extensive collecting, he purchased several distinguished private collections of British watercolors, enriching and expanding them with astute purchases reflecting his own taste.
Mellons’ interest and collecting helped to revive the study of British watercolors. Through the gift of his collection to Yale, YCBA houses more than 50,000 drawings, watercolors and prints †the largest and most representative collection of British art on paper outside the United Kingdom.
“Great British Watercolors” has been curated by Scott Wilcox, curator of prints and drawings, Yale Center for British Art; Mitchell Merling, Paul Mellon curator and head of the department of European art, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts; and Matthew Hargraves, postdoctoral research associate, department of paintings and sculpture, YCBA.
The exhibition will be on view through August 17 at the Yale Center for British Art, 1080 Chapel Street. For information, 203-432-2800 or www.yale.edu/ycba.
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