Challenging both the scope and nature of what we understand as watercolour, this Tate Britain exhibition looks beyond the delicate landscapes of Britain's so-called golden age, incorporating maps, manuscripts and modern art into a provocative dialogue about the development of the genre.

Some 200 works chart the development of the medium, from the earliest examples of draughtsmanship or 'tinted drawings' from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries to the contemporary works of Anish Kapoor and Andy Goldsworthy.Cheap and quick-drying, the practical benefits of watercolour have materially shaped its history and usage. Watercolours, we are shown, shade the delicate figures in illuminated manuscripts, document the plant and animal life on Captain Cook's voyage, and allow official war artists such as Paul Nash to convey a sense of immediacy.At the heart of the exhibition are the nineteenth-century watercolours of Girtin and Turner (including the Art Funded landscape The Blue Rigi, acclaimed for its delicate play of light on water), works in which watercolour's convenience as visual record are secondary to its expressive possibilities.

Tate Britain

Millbank, London, SW1P 4RG

020 7887 8888

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Opening times

Daily, 10am – 6pm (last admission 5.15pm)
Closed 24 – 26 Dec

Free to all

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