This rotation celebrates recent additions to the collection by British artists who worked across two centuries, from 1700 to 1900. Landscape is a focus here, with the genre becoming closely allied to the growing popularity of watercolor during this period. Around 1760, artists like Paul and Thomas Sandby, Francis Towne, and Thomas Jones began to explore the medium’s expressive potential. In the nineteenth century, dedicated watercolor societies were established and held regular exhibitions to promote their members’ work. Increasingly developed and poetically resonant compositions sought to challenge the preeminence of oil painting.
In this display, watercolors made rapidly out of doors by John Constable and Peter De Wint may be compared to finished compositions by John Brett, Samuel Palmer, and Alfred William Hunt. Travel’s ability to spur creativity is demonstrated by works that respond to sites in Britain, France, Italy, Caucasia, and North Africa. Nature studies, conversely, affirm how foreign flora became increasingly available at home. Finally, the sustained importance of the figure is represented by early chalk and pastel renderings by Joseph Wright of Derby and Allan Ramsay, vibrantly colored later portraits by David Wilkie and John Frederick Lewis, and representations of Black models by Lewis, William Henry Hunt, and Simeon Solomon.