Renaissance Watercolours: from Dürer to Van Dyck

A masterful exhibition

It is the 14th century, and Europe is in the midst of a political, social and cultural revolution. As the landscape begins to shift, artists turn to a fluid, versatile medium to document this era of unprecedented change: watercolour.

This year, the V&A brings together an extraordinary collection of watercolour paintings from across the Renaissance – and beyond – creating a seminal exhibition of over 200 masterpieces.

A show of true colours

Fragile and sensitive to the light, watercolours are rarely displayed, with great works often separated across collections. Drawing on its own extensive archive, and sourcing pieces from galleries around the world, this marks the first time the V&A has displayed such a large body of work in watercolour in one exhibition and it tells an extraordinary story.

From the ancient frescos that inspired the Renaissance classics, to the beautiful depictions of the natural world that came to define landscape painting as a genre, Renaissance Watercolours charts the rebirth of an artistic medium – in beautifully suspended colours.

From Europe, to the world

From portraits to plans, Renaissance Watercolours features an impressive array of works spanning several centuries. There is Leonardo da Vinci’s exquisitely detailed view of western Tuscany, on loan from Her Majesty the Queen and the Royal Collection Trust. Albrecht Dürer’s study of a stag beetle also appears in the UK for the first time in a quarter of a century, courtesy of the Getty Collection in Los Angeles. Just as the pieces on show explore a time of discovery and cultural exchange, so the exhibition brings together masterpieces from around the world in a uniquely cohesive display, in the heart of London.

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16 May - 21 September 2020


The V&A Museum
Cromwell Rd