Watercolour is an accessible, inexpensive, and yet surprisingly complex art form. To make a watercolour painting, dry pigment is diluted in water mixed with a binding agent, and applied to paper with a brush. British artists in particular embraced the process, grappling with its technical challenges to achieve extraordinary effects. From the 1780s to today, it has been a preferred medium for interpreting the atmospheric effects of the British countryside.
The Art Gallery of Ontario began to build its extensive collection of British watercolours in the 1950s and early 1960s, when British ceramicist William Bower Dalton (1868–1965) donated 33 works to the gallery. Highlights from his donation, along with works acquired in the past few decades, testify to the freshness and luminosity that characterize watercolour painting at its best.