American Watercolors, 1880-1990


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Into the Light

Edited by Joachim Homann, Margaret Morgan Grasselli, and Miriam Stewart; With contributions by Horace D. Ballard, Elisa German, Margaret Morgan Grasselli, Joachim Homann, Penley Knipe, Miriam Stewart, and Richard Tuttle

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A celebration of the diverse world of American watercolors from the late nineteenth through the twentieth century, featuring works from the Harvard Art Museums’ collection

Watercolor holds a special place in the history of American art. For generations of artists, the medium has provided a space for innovation and experimentation, allowing practitioners to let their imagination loose and to reflect on process and perception. Its rise to the status of fine art in the decades following the Civil War is well documented, yet its continued role as a testing ground and means of generating new ideas throughout the twentieth century has received comparatively less attention.

This volume considers continuity and change in the American watercolor tradition over a century of production through the lens of the Harvard Art Museums’ collection. Works by well-known watercolorists such as Winslow Homer, John Singer Sargent, and James Abbott McNeill Whistler are included, as well as surprising additions from Zelda Fitzgerald, Alexander Calder, Claes Oldenburg, and many others. In the spirit of the medium, the authors take a fluid and open-ended approach to the topic, offering both personal and scholarly reflections that invite readers to ponder the influence of these works on their own experience of the world. In addition to contextual essays, there are close readings of singular works and examinations of the unique material characteristics of the watercolor medium.

Distributed for the Harvard Art Museums

Exhibition Schedule:

Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, MA
(May 20–August 13, 2023)

Joachim Homann is the Maida and George Abrams Curator of Drawings, Margaret Morgan Grasselli is a visiting senior scholar for drawings, and Miriam Stewart is curator of the collection for the Division of European and American Art, all at the Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, MA.



Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, MA
(May 20–August 13, 2023)

ISBN: 9780300269703
Publication Date: June 27, 2023
Publishing Partner: Distributed for the Harvard Art Museums
176 pages, 9 1/2 x 11
105 color + b/w illus.