Watercolor (Italian aquarelle or aqua-tento, French aquarelle, English painting in water colors, German Wasserfarbengemalde, Aquarellmalerei) – means painting with water (i.e., water-soluble) paints.
watercolor Watercolor technique has been known for a very long time – it was already known in Ancient Egypt, in China, it was used by medieval miniaturists. Late Gothic and Renaissance erased a number of outstanding watercolor artists in Northern Europe – in the Netherlands, the brothers Limburg and Hubert van Eyck, in France – Jean Fouquet, in Germany – Dürer – both in handwritten miniatures and in landscape sketches.
Watercolor technique began to develop in China after the invention of paper in the II century AD. In the XII-XIII centuries, paper was distributed in Europe, especially in Spain and Italy.
The predecessor of watercolor techniques in Europe was painting on raw plaster (fresco), which allowed to obtain similar effects. Watercolor at that time did not have independent significance – it was used for graphic, illustrative purposes, for coloring a picture. Italian art of the Renaissance completely ignored watercolor, because it could not compete with wall painting and was completely subordinate to graphics, drawing (it is no accident that in the watercolors of the old masters strokes of a pencil or pen always appear through the paint).
Watercolor painting came into use later than other types of painting; as early as 1829, Montaber in “Trait e Complet de la peinture” mentions it only in passing as an art that does not deserve serious attention. However, despite its late emergence, in a short time she made such successes that she can compete with oil paints.
The flowering of watercolors coincides with the decline of monumental wall painting and, over time, the passion for drawing and writing directly from nature, that is, from the second half of the 18th century. There is no doubt that the changes coincide with important crises in the field of fine arts – with the loss of contact between painting and architecture and with the increase in the schedule of reproduction tasks.
Still life. Watercolor. Felix Gumen. 1987. Aquariel – the art of subtle nuances and at the same time, omissions – a contemporary of classicism, the trends of which it is directly opposite. Watercolor painting in the modern sense originates in England. It is possible that partly its origin was promoted by the very nature of England with its cloudiness and fogs – the fluid rhythm of watercolor is perfectly suited for the transmission of water, air, diffused light. During the years of activity of Gertin, Turner, Cotman, watercolor was considered the national art of the British. The watercolor experienced its second heyday at the time of Impressionism (Whistler), when almost every painter tried his hand at watercolor.
The main binder of watercolors – gum arabic – is easily soluble in water, but does not allow one raw layer of paint to overlap with another. Therefore, in watercolor it is difficult to achieve a masonry of a uniform layer. One could say that the advantage of watercolor stems from the natural difficulties of her technique. Watercolor requires quick work, but its appeal is just in the freshness and fluency of the impression. A white or colorful background that shines through a thin layer of paint, deliberately unclosed fields of white paper; fluid, soft, light transitions of tones – the main stylistic effects of watercolor.
Great Soviet Encyclopedia: Watercolors
(French aquarelle, from Italian acquerello, from Latin aqua – water), paints (usually on vegetable glue), bred by water, as well as painting with these paints.
The painting of opaque A. (with a touch of white, see Gouache) was known in Ancient Egypt, the ancient world, medieval Europe and Asia. Pure A. (without whitewash) became widely used at the beginning of the 15th century. Its main qualities: transparency of colors through which the tone and texture of the base (mainly paper, rarely – ivory silk) shine through, the purity of color.
A. combines the features of painting (richness of tone, the construction of form and space in color) and graphics (the active role of paper in image building).
Specific methods of A. – erosion and numbness, creating the effect of mobility and trepidation of the image. A. happens monochrome: sepia (brown paint), bistre, “black A.”, mascara. In A., performed with a brush, a pen or pencil drawing is often introduced.
Mikhailovsky Palace. Watercolor by K.P. Beggrova. 1832 In the 15-17 centuries. A. served mainly for coloring prints, drawings, sketches of paintings and frescoes (the applied value of A. partially preserved to this day in architectural drawings, etc.). Separate independent A. are known – landscapes of A. Durer, Dutch and Flemish artists of the 17th century. From the 2nd half of the 18th century
A. began to be widely used primarily in landscape painting, because A.’s speed of work allows direct observations to be recorded, and the airiness of its color facilitates the transmission of atmospheric phenomena. Professional watercolor painters appear (A. and J. R. Cozens, T. Goertin, and others in England).