In April 1805 the newly created Society of Painters in Water Colours, now known as the Royal Watercolour Society, held its first exhibition. After the Royal Academy, the RWS is the oldest artists' exhibiting society in Britain. Its early years saw the rise to prominence of watercolour painting, a golden age of British art and a medium in which Britain produced artists of remarkable genius. This book celebrates the Society's bicentenary by bringing together the work of its founders, Joshua Cristall, John Varley, W.S. Gilpin, W.H. Pyne and W.F. Wells. It also surveys the period from 1800 to 1851 in detail and illustrates the work of the major painters of the time--Thomas Girtin, J.M. Turner, Francis Towne, Peter de Wint, A.V. Copley Fielding, John Linnell, John Sell Cotman and many others.