The Royal Watercolour Society (RWS) was founded in 1804 and is the oldest and most prestigious watercolour society in the world. Past Members include Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, E.R. Hughes, William Hunt, Henry Moore and John Singer Sargent.
The RWS is an artist-led society made up of an elected Membership who are amongst the finest practitioners in contemporary water-based painting. Our artists work in a variety of media including gouache, acrylic, pen & ink, pigment, collage, mixed media as well as traditional watercolour. The aim of the Society is to promote, by example and education, the understanding, appreciation and enjoyment of these exciting media.
The Royal Society of Painters in Water Colours is a registered charity in England and Wales No. 258348
Bankside Gallery (Trading) Ltd. Registered in England and Wales No. 01986281
Artists of the RWS work in a variety of styles and in any water-based media. They are elected on merit by the existing membership and are given the opportunity to exhibit regularly with the society and take part in the programme.
Exhibitions featuring the works of the current membership are held twice annually at Bankside Gallery where all works are available to buy.
Events take place each spring and autumn. The programme comprises workshops, talks, family activities, demonstrations, social gatherings and interactive events.
Opportunities for artists to take part and exhibit their own work are available each year. The Contemporary Watercolour Competition happens annually and provides emerging and established artists a platform to show their work in a central London gallery.
Bankside Gallery has been the home of the RWS since it was opened by HM The Queen in 1980. The Society hold regular exhibitions there showing works by their members and external exhibitors. The RWS has also recently acquired an additional gallery space on Whitcomb Street, just off Traflagar Square. This is currently undergoing extensive renovation works and is expected to open in 2020.
Archive & Diploma Collection
Upon election to the Society, each artist donates one of their works to the RWS Diploma Collection. The Archive & Diploma Collection comprises works by almost every member of the RWS since 1804 along with archival documents such as letters, postcards and catalogues relating to members and their exhibitions.