The Prince of Wales is lending his support to a campaign to save priceless watercolour paintings that date back to the world pre-1900.
The Watercolour World officially launched yesterday and counts Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall as its royal patrons.
“Before the invention of the camera, people used watercolours to document the world,” reads The Watercolour World’s website.
“Over the centuries, painters—both professional and amateur—created hundreds of thousands of images recording life as they witnessed it. Every one of these paintings has a story to tell, but many are hidden away in archives, albums and store rooms, too fragile to display.”
Watercolour paintings are prone to fading in the daylight and are easily damaged by changes in temperature or humidity, so are frequently put away to preserve them.
The goal of The Watercolour World is to digitise and create a free database of such paintings where people can search against a world map to find watercolours that interest them.
“By making history visible to more people, we can deepen our understanding of the world.”
The Watercolour World will work with public collections, private collectors and open source collections around the world to compile and digitise the paintings, and notes that many of them will have never been photographed before.
The project is aiming to catalogue primarily “documentary images” that have “a clear connection to a real person, place or event that the artist could plausibly have known first-hand” and would not include battle images or historical events, as these were often painted from memory and not in the moment.
Prince Charles is an avid watercolour painter, frequently painting open-air scenes of Balmoral, Sandringham, and overseas locations while he’s on tours. His first public display was in 1977 when his painting was featured alongside artwork produced by Queen Victoria, the Duke of Edinburgh and the Duke of York.
Prince Charles has sold some of his artwork over the years, and all money goes back to The Prince of Wales’s Charitable Foundation.